With most people spending the vast majority of their time indoors, it is important consider the environment of these indoor places and the impact that they may have on our health. One of the chief concerns when it comes to these environments is the indoor air quality. The air that we breathe is vital for the maintenance of life, but air that is full of pollutants can have a negative impact. Since most of our lives are spent indoors, it is important to learn about the impact of indoor air pollution and possible ways that it can be addressed.
Why indoor air can be bad for your health
A major factor that affects the quality of indoor air stems from the way that we construct the buildings that we spend our time in. Construction design tends to be geared toward keeping air on the inside in order to efficiently heat and cool the structure. While this is effective for the heating and cooling process, this can have a negative effect on the air quality. Things like caulk and insulation are not only effective at keeping the warm and cool air in the building, but they also work to trap the pollutants that may be present. A structure with inadequate airflow will often have an unhealthy concentration of indoor air pollutants.
Sources of indoor air pollution
Pollutants can be released into the indoor air from a variety of sources. Chemicals that are used to clean or kill insects may build-up in the environment. Fumes can be emitted from cooking and heating and certain building materials that the structure or objects within the building are constructed from can also release air pollution. This can include certain types of insulations and paints, different types of glues and adhesives that might be used in cabinetry or furniture and different products that might be used to preserve or strengthen a material that is used in the manufacture process. With all of these potential sources of indoor air pollution, homes and businesses can have a startlingly poor air quality.
Indoor air quality and the impact on health
When it comes to how indoor air quality will affect the health of an individual, there are many different factors that will come into play. Factors like the age of the person or if they have any existing medical conditions will play a role in regard to how indoor air pollution impacts their health. Along with physical factors, the amount of exposure and the type of pollutant will also be significant in how the individual will be impacted.
As with most health concerns, the individuals that will be most at risk for health problems that are the result of poor air quality are children and the elderly. Add in a preexisting health condition like asthma and it can make for some serious problems.
Poor indoor air quality can also cause short term problems for even the healthiest of individuals. Depending on the level of exposure and the type of pollutant, individuals can suffer from effects such as headaches, sore throats, dizziness, nasal and chest congestion, irritation to the eyes and fatigue. These effects can be even more dramatic if the individual is in one of the high-risk groups like those that have a health condition or the very old and very young.
Improving indoor air quality
With there being so many potential causes of poor air quality and it being a major health concern, it is important for people to try to take steps to improve the air quality in places where they spend a lot of time. Taking these steps will not only have a positive impact on your health, but it will also be beneficial to other individuals that you share the space with.
Ventilation is one of the most important keys to managing indoor air pollutants. Allowing more outdoor air to enter the structure and expelling some of the polluted indoor air, will be one of the most effective methods for keeping the air healthy. This can be achieved by using fans throughout the home or business while opening some windows to let some of the indoor air escape. Some buildings will even be equipped with a mechanical ventilation system that is designed to introduce fresh air from the outside into the structure.
Regular cleaning will also be a necessary step to keep the air pollution down. Cleaning can be a great way to remove potential air pollutants from an environment, but it can also be a means to introduce air pollutants. If you are cleaning with any chemical cleansers, it is recommended that you allow for adequate ventilation during the process. This will help you to remove potential air pollutants from the indoor environment while reducing the impact of any that may be released by the cleaning agent.
Using different types of air cleaners and air purifiers can also be an effective method to help improve indoor air quality. Consumers have a great selection of products to choose from ranging from single room units to larger machines that work to clean the air throughout the entire structure.
Upgrading the filter in your furnace can also help to remove some of the pollutants from the air. The standard furnace filter is really designed to protect the machine from dirt, dust and debris, rather than actually filtering pollutants out of the air. However, some manufacturers do make filters that are designed to reduce the presence of air pollutants in the indoor air.
The indoor air quality of the environments in which you spend your time will have an impact on your health. Understanding the sources of air pollutants and trying to take steps to manage them should be an important concern for any individual. Along with finding ways to reduce the potential sources for air pollution, it is also important to take steps to clean and remove them from the air. Most of the measures that can be taken to improve indoor air quality are inexpensive and they require little effort to achieve, while providing substantial benefits to you and the other occupants of the indoor environment.