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Student Blog

Indoor Pollution Can Improve Your Health

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Both outdoor and indoor environments harbor air pollutants. Since individuals spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, indoor air quality can significantly impact health. To mitigate potential health risks and promote well-being, you must understand the steps you can take to improve indoor air quality and ensure cleanliness. 

Indoor Pollution Sources

Biological agents[1] originating from living organisms can exacerbate asthma and allergy symptoms and even lead to respiratory infections. Factors such as moisture or high humidity levels indoors contribute to the presence of these biological contaminants. Examples include:

  • Cockroaches
  • House dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Mildew
  • Animal dander

Building materials can contain chemicals like formaldehyde, which is often found in pressed wood products. Asbestos[2], a mineral fiber used in insulation, poses risks when improperly handled, releasing harmful fibers into the air.

Exposure to formaldehyde and asbestos can lead to cancer. Examples include:

  • Asbestos can be seen in:
    • Floor materials
    • Textured paints and coating materials
    • Cement products such as pipes
    • Ceiling tiles
  • Formaldehyde found in:
    • Pressed wood furniture (e.g., cabinets, flooring, fabrics)
    • Adhesive

    Person-Sleeping-With-Dehumidifier

Combustion sources such as gas, fossil fuels, or wood can increase particulate matter and release carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide into the air.

Inhaling these pollutants can elevate the risk of lung and heart diseases and exacerbate respiratory symptoms. Examples of combustion sources include:

  • Stoves
  • Ovens
  • Fireplaces
  • Clothes dryers
  • Water heaters
  • Furnaces

Radon gases, formed from the breakdown of uranium in soils and rocks, can seep into indoor environments through cracks and holes in walls or floors, dirt floors, soil, and crawl spaces.

High levels of indoor radon exposure can contribute to lung cancer. Examples include:

  • Cracks in walls or floors
  • Dirt floors
  • Soil
  • Crawl spaces

Secondhand smoke, a result of smoking[3]indoors, exposes individuals to harmful chemicals that can linger on household surfaces and lead to thirdhand smoke exposure. Exposure to secondhand smoke can result in asthma, lung cancer, and respiratory infections. Examples of smoking sources include:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Pipes

Household cleaning products can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, leading to allergic reactions, asthma, headaches, and respiratory illnesses upon inhalation. Examples of household cleaning products include:

  • Air fresheners
  • Detergents
  • Aerosol sprays for beauty or cleaning
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Pesticides
  • Bug repellents
  • Disinfectants

Influence of Indoor Air Quality on Our Health

Household pollutants significantly impact respiratory health by reducing lung function and contributing to the development of chronic respiratory conditions. Exposure to indoor pollutants disrupts immune regulation, as particulates or gases can affect airways and hinder lung defense against infections such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or pneumonia[4] . Indoor air pollution contributes to 22% of adult pneumonia-related deaths.

Long-term exposure to household air pollution leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), characterized by a decline in lung function, with 23% of COPD deaths attributed to indoor pollutant exposure. Exposure to indoor pollutants like secondhand smoke can induce childhood asthma and increase the risk of asthma in adulthood, as particulates from pollution irritate the airways and exacerbate asthma symptoms.

Indoor air pollutants also influence lung development in fetuses and adolescents, leading to reduced lung function in children and an increased risk of respiratory diseases in adulthood. Long-term consequences may include the development of lung cancer, with indoor air pollution contributing to 11% of lung cancer deaths.

Person-Cleaning-in-Moldy-Kitchen

Strategies for Good Indoor Air Quality

Filtration:

Consider employing an air purification[5] system to enhance indoor air quality. This method effectively removes particulates but is not designed for gas pollutants. Various filter types are available, each with differing effectiveness based on factors like airflow capacity and pollutant collection capability. Look for filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) standard, aiming for at least a MERV-13 rating. Regularly replacing filters helps maintain optimal indoor air quality.

Source Control:

Reducing or eliminating indoor air pollutants at their source is key to preserving air quality. Opt for electric stoves over gas ones, avoid smoking indoors, and steer clear of products containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Minimizing pollutant sources results in cleaner air and reduces the need for extensive pollutant removal measures.

Ventilation:

Ventilating indoor spaces reduces the concentration of contaminants in the air. Introducing fresh air is particularly beneficial during activities that generate high pollutant levels, such as painting or cleaning. Proper ventilation, along with dehumidification, reduces moisture levels, preventing mold growth and decreasing dust mite populations—common triggers for allergies and asthma. Open doors and windows, utilize heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and install carbon monoxide detectors to ensure well-ventilated indoor air.

Benefits of Improving Air Quality

Improving indoor air quality offers a multitude of benefits that can significantly enhance your overall well-being. Clean air promotes better respiratory health by reducing symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness. Additionally, optimizing air quality can boost cognitive performance, including productivity and concentration, as exposure to air pollutants is linked to an increased risk of cognitive impairment.


Reducing your exposure to airborne irritants can have positive effects on your mental health, lowering the risk of depression and improving sleep quality. By prioritizing clean indoor air, you also reduce your susceptibility to developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, and cancer conditions.


Moreover, proactive measures to minimize long-term exposure to air pollutants can lead to significant financial savings on medical costs. Investing in indoor air quality improvements is beneficial not only for your health but also for your financial well-being in the long run.

 

Choosing a healthy plant-based and vegan diet is most beneficial when it comes to:

  • Higher levels of energy;

  • Improved sleep;

  • Trifecta-Healthy-Meal-Delivery-Banner-Ad-300-x-500Aids in energy and overall happiness;

  • Provides a sense of comfort and relief;

  • Could prevent major diseases such as obesity and diabetes;

  • Accomplish weight-loss and management; and

  • Improves mental and cognitive functioning.

There are really no excuses not to try healthier habits in your everyday life. If you are a man or woman looking for specific benefits of adopting healthier habits or just want to know about the general healing properties of herbs. Please remember to comment or post any health questions, or contact us directly!

 

 

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