When we discuss air pollution, not many of us think twice about the pollutants present in our indoor environment. The absence of automobiles, vehicles, and industries, doesn't mean that there is no pollution indoors. In fact, air present in homes or offices is always contaminated to some degree. Fortunately, there are ways to stop such pollution, which can increase the quality of air for better health.
The reduction of indoor air quality due to physical, chemical, and biological factors is referred to as indoor air pollution. Categorized under the types of air pollution, it negatively affects the health of people in several ways. Chronic medical problems may be manifested, when exposed to pollutants for an extended time.
According to reports published on environmental issues, it is listed in the top five risk factors for public health. Considering the fact that we spend maximum time at home, the indoor air pollutants are responsible for causing, or exacerbating 50 percent of medical problems. Also, 10 percent cases of common cold are contracted outdoors, while the remaining 90 percent are contracted indoors.
While combustion of fossil fuels is the major reason for outdoor air pollution; the sources for the indoor type are biomass fuels, coal, household products, biological pollutants, and materials used for construction purposes. The major sources include cigarette smoke, body sprays, mold growth, pollens, aerosols, cleaning products, polishes, paints, dust, and asbestos usage in buildings.
Cosmetics, paints, cleaning products, solid fuels, formaldehyde, lead, etc., are the main causes or factors for this type of pollution. Can you believe that about 3 billion people still rely on biomass fuels (for example, cow dung and wood) for generating energy inside homes? Burning these energy sources for cooking or heating is also a major cause.
They are mainly attributed to respiratory health problems. Some medical conditions arising are: fatigue, headache, runny nose, irritation of eyes, and allergic responses. Poor indoor air quality is the number one leading cause for childhood asthma, and in the United States, one out of every 10 children is diagnosed with this disorder.
Several studies and clinical researches have been conducted for prevention of air pollution. Simple solutions to improve indoor air quality are maintaining proper ventilation in homes, growing houseplants, using air purifiers, and reducing the sources that release contaminants. The logic is to limit use of smoke, fumes, chemical carcinogens, etc., that make their way inside homes.
The immediate environment where we spend 90 percent of our time is indoors, which is contaminated with pollutants. So, you can expect their detrimental effects on the respiratory system. The concentration of air pollutants indoors is 25 - 100 times higher than those present outdoors. Pollutants present outside get diffused and diluted with time. To be more precise, homes and offices are enclosed structures that retain contaminants for a longer period.
On a concluding note, short-term exposure to indoor pollutants is not a medical concern, and discomfort symptoms will subside as soon as the source is removed. However, those exposed for a prolonged time may develop chronic respiratory diseases and cancers. Implement the effectual ways to prevent air pollution and surely, you can increase indoor air quality.