One of the biggest threats to the environment is air pollution. It affects everyone – humans, animals, crops, forests, aquatic ecosystems, etc.
Air pollution is said to be the alteration of air quality characterized by measurements of chemical, biological or physical pollutants in the air.
Thus, air pollution means the undesired presence of impurities in the atmosphere. There are two types of air pollutants visible and invisible.
The rising levels of air pollution outside arising from factors like vehicle emissions, burning and industrial exhaust gases, fossil fuels, etc are worrying enough to force us to stay indoors as much as possible.
But surprisingly the quality of air indoors is also not as clean and healthy as we like to believe it should be. According to studies conducted in the U.S., there is two to five times more pollution in the indoor air when compared to outdoor air.
We tend to think that air pollution is something that occurs only inside but the truth is that the inside of our homes, offices and other buildings can be polluted as well.
The air inside can be polluted by lead coming from house dust, fire retardants, volatile chemicals coming from fragrances used for cleaning, our favorite ac which we would have bought with so much of a planned air conditioner financing, etc.
Some of the pollutants come indoors through new mattresses, new carpets new furniture, a coat of paint, etc. Indoor irritants and allergens have become more of a cause of worry as we are spending more time indoors these days. Modern homes are airtight and these irritants cannot easily escape because of this.
What causes air pollution indoors?
Indoor air pollution can be caused by contaminants brought in by your pets to dangerous gas leaks.
These air pollutants cause respiratory diseases and sometimes even cancer. There are various reasons for causing air pollution indoors. Some of them are:
- Ø Asbestos is one of the leading causes of indoor air pollution. They are mostly found in coatings, paints, building materials, ceilings, etc. Some new products do not contain asbestos. But old home constructions have asbestos and hence stand a greater risk than new homes.
- Ø Formaldehyde is another leader in causing air pollution indoors. It is a colorless gas that has a characteristic pungent smell. It is banned in many countries but is still found in paints, sealants, wood floors, etc. Formaldehyde is used as a permanent adhesive in upholstery and carpets.
- Ø Radon commonly found underneath your home in various types of bedrock and other building materials also causes indoor pollution. It gets into the walls of the house and can put both you and your family at risk.
- Ø Biological pollutants like mildew, mold, bacteria, viruses, dust mites, animal dander, pollen, etc are the other contaminants that can come inside your home from outdoor areas. These contaminants grow quickly in damp environments making you sick.
- Ø Woodstoves, air heaters, water heaters, or anything used for heating also causes indoor air pollution. All these poorly vented fuel-burning appliances emit carbon monoxide as well as nitrogen both hazardous for health.
- Ø Varnishes, paints, and certain household cleaning products also emit pollution into the air inside your homes.
- Ø Perfumes, synthetic fragrances, air fresheners, and deodorizers use largely unregulated substances. The highly volatile and semi-volatile chemicals used in these products cause indoor air pollution.
- Ø Pesticides that we used in and around our home to kill household pests contain semi-volatile organic compounds and include a variety of chemicals in different forms causing indoor pollution.
- Ø Minute particles and gases from stationary or electric appliances used in our home including the ac bought by our meticulously planned air conditioner financing, all release ultra-fine particles that can penetrate our lungs.
- Ø Glue, plywood, or any building and remodeling materials that we use in our home release volatile organic gases. These gases get emitted for as long as a few years after installation.
- Ø Tobacco smoke is one pollutant that can come from outdoor and indoors causing health hazards.
- Ø Living near a busy road can also cause indoor air pollution, The pollutants from vehicles can enter your home causing bad air quality inside.
Indoor plants for your home
Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
There are various effects of indoor air pollution that are life-threatening. Irrespective of age be it kids or old age people all are prone to the after-effects of indoor air pollution. Some of the effects of indoor pollution are:
- Asbestos if it is present in your house causes serious health problems like lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other types of cancer.
- Contaminants like animal dander, dust mites, and other bacteria cause asthma, throat irritation, flu, and other types of infectious diseases.
- Lead found in the air pollutants indoors can cause brain and nerve damage, anemia, defective cardio system, kidney failure, etc.
- Formaldehyde irritates the throat, eyes, and nose. It also causes other allergic reactions and studies by WHO say there have been several cases where it is said to have caused cancer as well.
- Tobacco a deadly old indoor air pollution causes respiratory irritation, bronchitis, pneumonia, heart diseases, and lung cancer.
- Gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide emitted from gas or wood stoves, heaters, etc irritate the lungs and other respiratory infections.
- According to studies conducted by the Cancer Institute radon is said to be the second leading cause of lung cancer.
- The highly volatile and semi-volatile chemicals used in perfumes and deodorizers, and synthetic fragrances are capable of causing skin irritation, disorders in the central nervous system, allergic reactions, etc.
- Pesticides if not used with care can irritate the nose, throat, and eyes, damage to the kidney and central nervous system, and risk cancer.
- There could be symptoms like dizziness, nausea, weakness, etc by continuous exposure to these air pollutants thus damaging our kidneys, endocrine and nervous system.
16 Tips to improve the air quality inside our home
On average we spend about 80% of our time indoors. It is thus important to keep the air indoors as clean as possible.
This is more needed during winters when we like to keep all our windows and doors shut tight to stop the cold from seeping in.
There are so many ways to improve the air quality inside your homes. Some of the tips given below should ensure that you can live a pollution-free indoor life:
16 Clean your home
Most of us clean our homes on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This helps in preventing germs and other pollutants from entering our homes. If you find any place in your through which air could be leaking seal them immediately.
15 Cooking vents
Many of the indoor air pollution starts from the kitchen. Even our electric burner emits some small amount of air pollution. So while cooking, ensure that all your kitchen vents are turned on. Open the windows so that there is proper circulation of air so that the air does not remain in the kitchen.
14 Keep your carpets clean
Rugs and carpets act as a filter to trap dust and air particles. Clean your carpets and rugs regularly if possible every week as this will help in improving the air quality in your home.
13 Control humidity
Depending on your location summer months can bring in a lot of humid conditions. Reduce the moisture in the air as this will help in preventing the growth of mold, mildews, or other bacteria.
Use some well-placed air purifiers that can maintain consistent humidity levels creating a comfortable living condition in your home.
12 Use indoor plants
Plants are nature’s best air purifiers. Using a few indoor plants can do wonders in improving the air quality inside your home. At the same time, it will help in enhancing the decor of your home. Small plants like ferns and lilies that even bloom indoors and palm trees can help to pull the contaminants out of the air in your home.
11 Change AC filter
The AC that you have bought through air conditioner financing always helps to give your home the perfect temperature. But their filters are also constantly pulling in some of the air contaminants. These will fill up the air filters and prevent them from working properly. Get your AC filters cleaned regularly to prevent allergies or other pollution-prone diseases.
10 Check other air filters
Other than your AC you need to check the filters of your other household appliances like the vacuum cleaner, clothes dryer, and kitchen vents. They should be inspected and cleaned every few months.
9 Mop regularly
Mopping will always pick up the dust that even your vacuum cleaner leaves behind. Use just plain water to mop any lingering dust or allergens.
There are several new microfiber mops and dust clothes available that help to capture more dust and dirt than the traditional fibers. These new mops do not require any cleaning solutions as well for mopping. Use
8 No-smoking zone
Cigarettes are probably the single most important aspect of polluting air indoors. Try to quit smoking or find a nicotine replacement theory or other medications that will help to quit smoking. Focus on the reasons to quit smoking rather than on the cravings.
Make your home/office a no-smoking zone as this will make a huge difference.
Gases that comes from the natural decay of uranium found in the soils is a very radioactive gas. It generally moves through the ground and enters your home through cracks and holes in the foundation.
It is seen that even a granite countertop also emits radon. Seek the help of a professional and get your house checked to reduce the levels of this dangerous gas.
Use naturally scented laundry products. Check the labels of the deodorants, carpet cleaners, furniture polish, air fresheners, etc. Try and use only mild items that do not include any artificial fragrances.
Open windows so that fresh air comes in and do not let toxic air circulate inside your home. Use sliced lemon and baking soda to get a clean smell in the kitchen.
6 Keep your fabrics clean
Dust mites often linger more on the fabrics of your home such as bedding, cushions, curtains, etc. Wash them regularly in low allergic soap. Try and keep your pets away from your bed and sofa to minimize the build-up of animal dander.
5 Groom your pets
Pet dander is a common culprit of indoor air pollution. Regularly brush your pet’s coat and clean them properly. Vacuum all the carpets, floors, and furnishings also so that animal dander is not left behind.
4 Use beeswax candles
Beeswax candles are said to be the perfect air purifiers. Pollen, dust, and other pollutants carry a positive charge with them. By burning beeswax candles they release negative ions which destroy the positive charge in the pollutants.
Beeswax candles are 100% natural, smell good and create a wonderful ambiance at your home.
3 Salt lamps
This is said to be a great natural air purifier. Salt crystals reduce airborne irritants and other allergens by removing the water vapor from the air. The most iconic natural air purifier is Himalayan salt which helps to pull out the toxins from the environment and neutralize them.
Its orange glow also adds to the decor of your home and the most wonderful part is that it surprisingly works even when turned off.
2 Choose your furniture wisely
Your furniture is made with glues that release toxins even long after they have left the factory. Hence, choose your furniture wisely. Ask what production methods have been followed to manufacture your selected furniture. Avoid furniture that has been made from particleboard.
1 Use doormats
Keep a large floor mat at every door of the rooms in your home. People bring in all kinds of chemicals through the dirt of their shoes. A doormat will help to reduce the amount of dirt, allergens, and other pesticides entering your home.
If the mat is big then even those who do not wipe their shoes will automatically leave most of the pollutants on the mat while walking over it.
Your home is the most comfortable refuge that is away from so many of the challenges that you face during trying times. The good news is that with the recent coronavirus lockdown the carbon emission levels have dropped by about 17%.
We go for regular health check-ups, stress over allergies, or pop pills daily. But the most important thing we neglect is the basic thing – the quality of air inside our home that we breathe in 24×7.
There are many ways to check the quality of air inside your home. The quickest way to check the quality of your home’s air is by using a home air quality testing kit. It is relatively cheap and easy to obtain online or at your local hardware center.
Home air-testing kits have come into use dramatically in recent years and are said to be 80-90% effective just like any expensive professional test.
Whether you do a test or simply improve the air quality by following the tips given here adopt regular cleaning habits and make your home a healthy place for you and your family. This will have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being.