Indoor Air Pollution: Why Your Home Has More Air Pollutants Than the Outdoors

When we hear the word “pollution” most of us will immediately think of outside elements, such as smoke, smog, haze, and ozone. In reality, the air inside our homes is more polluted than the air outside. According to a study by the U S. Environmental Protection Agency, the level of pollutants at home is two to five times higher than the outdoors.

There are plenty of ways how pollutants get into your home. This can be in the form of carpet cleaner, perfume, disinfectants, paint coat, mattress or furniture, and more. Along with these sources, there are also microscopic contaminants, such as dust mites, molds, and other allergens. If you have children or the elderly at home, exposing them to these contaminants means putting them at risk of acquiring respiratory issues and other effects on health.

Aside from air duct cleaning and air purification systems, there are more ways to ensure better air quality at home. This article will discuss the causes of indoor air pollution, its health effects, and ways to prevent it. Use this information to protect you and your family’s health from harmful air pollutants.

Causes of indoor air pollution

Some of the typical sources of indoor pollutants include cigarette smoke, mold, asbestos, and carbon monoxide emissions from heating appliances such as gas stoves. Even volatile organic compounds (VOC) can also fill your home with harmful chemicals, such as pesticides, carpeting, paint, air fresheners, and other cleaning disinfectants.

Insufficient ventilation can also expose your home to air pollution by keeping the windows closed and trapping pollutants and allergens. Instead of replacing the indoor air with those coming from outside, indoor air pollutants continue to circulate your home. As a result, increased levels of air pollutants can lead to high humidity and temperature levels.

This is especially true in residences near highways and roads. Pollutants will greatly affect their indoor air quality as smoke coming from vehicles reaches their home. What’s worse, it is difficult to identify if the symptoms you will acquire resulted from exposure to indoor air pollution.

Health effects

Constant exposure to indoor air population leads to short- and long-term health effects. Short-term symptoms include irritation and dryness of the skin, throat, nose, and eyes. Other signs may also include hypersensitivity, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, and allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, coughing, and sinus problems.

The extent of acquiring the above symptoms depends on plenty of aspects, such as existing diseases or illnesses and old age. For example, asthma and allergy patients tend to be more sensitive to pollutants, resulting in mild to acute symptoms than those with no allergies.

Constant exposure to air pollutants may also lead to long-term health problems. These include respiratory problems, lung cancer, heart disease, lower birth weight, and death.

woman air-conditioning unit

Improving air quality at home

While indoor air pollution can seriously put your family at risk, there are ways to manage air quality at home by using the correct equipment and cleaning techniques. Here are some ways to improve indoor air quality:

Maintain good ventilation — Allowing continuous ventilation will release harmful contaminants outside, resulting in limited exposure to pollutants. During winter, keep the windows open once in a while and turn on electric fans to let outside airflow inside the house. For those living on main roads, never open the windows in the morning and rush hours.

Invest in air purification systems — Using air cleaning appliances is a great technique to reduce air pollutants hanging in the air. Position them in areas where your family frequently hangs out, such as bedrooms and living room to ensure that fresh air will circulate in these areas.

When getting an air purification system, make it a habit to change the filter regularly. Ideally, a high-performance air filter can trap tiny allergens and pollutants, such as viruses, dust, smoke, and pet hair. You can have it checked by a maintenance service to ensure the smooth operation and long life of the appliance.

Aside from air purifiers, you can also add plants to clean indoor air by reducing the harmful effects of chemical contaminants, such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. When picking a plant, make sure that they have air-purifying qualities, such as rubber plants, peace lilies, English ivy, Chinese evergreen, and snake plants.

Eliminate primary sources of air pollutants — The best way to start is to reduce emissions and remove all sources of air pollution at home. You can do this by having minimal floor carpeting, using non-toxic products to eliminate pests, cleaning carpets and rugs using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, washing clothes in warm water, and buying eco-friendly disinfectants.

There are many other ways to ensure good air quality at home, but you can start by following the techniques mentioned above. Using these techniques can help ensure quality and breathable air in your home. Although these strategies may require diligence and continuous maintenance, your efforts can go a long way in making contributions to reducing air pollution.

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