If you think about air pollution, your mind conjures up images of smog, fog and busy city streets. You don’t necessarily imagine that your home or workplace could be a major perpetrator of pollution, that could actually be one of the main factors contributing to conditions like asthma, COPD, and even skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. It is estimated that the indoor air we breathe could be between two and five times more toxic than the air we breathe outdoors. Given that productivity loss due to sick time off is a growing issue for workplaces, how did it get to be such a problem, and how can we address it?
Household items are part of the problem
While the main causes of indoor air pollution are combustion related, one only need to look deeper into the home or office to find more surprising causes of such issues. Items such as furniture, carpets and flooring, and personal care products – everything from shampoos and hairspray through to air fresheners and cleaning products. https://www.budgethomeservices.com/the-air-in-your-home-is-dirtier-than-outside-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/
They all have the potential to contribute to indoor air pollution. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3018511/
Air pollution explained
The USEPA rates outdoor air pollution using a scale on the Air Quality Index, or AQI. The levels are registered as follows:
Good = 0 to 50
Moderate = 51 to 100
Unhealthy for sensitive groups = 101 to 150
Unhealthy = 151 to 200
Very unhealthy = 201 to 300
Hazardous = 301 to 500
Outdoor air in most urban places in the U.S. falls in the 100-150 range.
At risk groups
Unsurprisingly, it is children and the elderly who are most at risk from indoor air pollution, as active children breathe in more (polluted) air per body weight than adults and seniors have weakened defenses. Conditions like asthma are the ones that are more likely to keep children out of school than any other. Mold and mildew in damp classrooms can also contribute to indoor air pollution and breathing difficulties.
Similarly, the elderly can also be troubled greatly by chronic breathing problems, that are contributed to by unclean air, particularly if they live in sheltered accommodation or are living in a care home where heating has to be on to a high level and at all times of the day.
But even working age adults are vulnerable to illnesses caused by indoor air pollutants and could lose significant time at work or suffer pre-mature death if not addressed.
How do we address these issues?
One of the key ways to help solve these issues is proper and adequate ventilation throughout the home or workplace. Keeping doors and windows open or on a vent facility to keep air circulating all the time can be of real benefit. While commercial buildings are designed for a constant ventilation flow, sometimes such systems do not work or are not optimal. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/improving-indoor-air-quality
However, that’s not the only thing you can do:
• Make sure any appliances that are flammable are adequately ventilated.
• If you have a clothes drier, make sure there is no blockage and it ventilates the dust outside rather than inside.
• Storage of chemicals, paints, inks, garden poisons, and kerosene or gasoline should be kept strictly away from where workers spend the most time or any living quarters, preferably locked in a safe space outside.
• Try not to overuse candles, smoke indoors or the grill on your oven
• After you’ve bathed or showered, open your windows and keep them like this for at least forty-five minutes, but preferably longer.
• Adding air filters to bedroom spaces can make a difference to people at both ends of the age spectrum who suffer from breathing problems, as can installing a professional HVAC system to your home.