Even though people spend 90 percent of their time indoors on an average, not many of them are aware of the fact that the air which they breathe indoors is 2-5 times polluted as compared to air outdoors. It may come as a surprise for many, but several sources of air pollution exist within your home itself. These range from construction material used to build your house to harmful emissions from burning of fuels.
Indoor air pollution refers to degradation of indoor air quality (IAQ) - i.e. the quality of air within and around a building, as a result of introduction of contaminants in the air. With 2.7 percent of the diseases in the world attributed to it, indoor air pollution is not something that is to be taken lightly. More importantly, these health issues range from minor allergies and infections to life-threatening conditions such as lung cancer which are known to cause millions of death across the world every year. Ignorance about the causes of indoor air pollution has blown the issue out of proportion, and that's something which is not quite a good news for us.
Indoor Air Pollution Sources
As we mentioned earlier, the pollutants found indoors range from building material to harmful emissions from burning of fuels. While the inclusion of dust as a pollutant both indoors and outdoors is obvious, the fact that this list of indoor pollutants includes household supplies - such as paints and cosmetics, and office supplies - such as printers and permanent markers, is bound to come as a surprise for most of the people out there. Given below are the details of primary sources of air pollution in your house that you need to be aware of.
- Tobacco products - such as cigarettes and cigars, which give out environmental tobacco smoke.
- Plant pollen attributed to flowering plants in the vicinity which is brought inside by wind.
- Animal dander attributed to pet animals in your home as well as animals outside.
- Mold colonies which thrive in humid corners of your house.
- Building material which is rich in radon - a radioactive gas that is considered carcinogenic to humans.
- Lead paint which is rich source of lead - a heavy toxic metallic element known to trigger a toxic health condition referred to as lead poisoning.
- Traditional methods of cooking that rely on fossil fuels which emit carbon monoxide.
- Defective central heating furnaces which are also known to emit carbon monoxide.
- Sulfur containing fuels - such as kerosene, which emit sulfur dioxide.
- Asbestos-containing material which was widely used in construction of homes earlier.
- Household supplies such as paint, pesticides, varnishes, cosmetic, cleaning supplies etc., which are rich in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Office supplies such as copiers, printers, correction ink, permanent markers, etc., which are rich in VOCs.
- Air ionizers and other such electronic devices which are known to produce ozone along with ultraviolet rays coming from the Sun.
- Automobile exhaust emissions, which are brought inside the house by wind.
- And lastly, humans which give out carbon dioxide as a by-product of the metabolic activity.
While all these sources are known to pollute your home, one has to also take into consideration the role that inadequate ventilation has to play in intensifying this pollution. In fact, inadequate ventilation is the major culprit when it comes to indoor air pollution as it doesn't allow the polluted air within the house to go outdoors, or the fresh air outside to come indoors, so that the pollutants inside are diluted.
If you are to keep indoor air pollution, and the numerous health hazards associated with it, at bay, these are the sources that you need to do away with. Some simple measures of preventing air pollution include keeping your home free of dust using vacuum cleaner, reducing the use of aerosol sprays, replacing traditional cooking methods with modern ones, etc. Even though they are simple, these preventive measures can make sure that you are not threatened by various health problems attributed to indoor air pollution, and hence, it's worth taking these efforts.