If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t given any thought to the quality of the air inside your home or office. If anything, most people just assume that the air inside is cleaner than what is outside.
While this might be true in certain areas, the real questions are how clean is the air indoors compared to that outside; considering that air circulates through the inside of the house and the outside? And are there some associated health risks associated with poor indoor air quality (IAQ)? Should you even care about the quality of the air in your home?
Well, according a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) this year, about 7 million people died from air pollution exposure in 2012 alone. To put that in perspective, that’s 1 out of every 8 deaths in 2012. Of the 7 million, over 4 million deaths were linked to poor indoor air quality compared to over 2 million linked to poor outdoor air quality.
The study demonstrates that air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in the globe and has been linked to an increase in respiratory ailments, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Poor indoor air quality in particular has been linked to ailments such as stroke, ischemic heart disease, acute lower respiratory diseases in children, and lung cancer. Bottom line, the air you breathe in your own home can kill you! As such, if you want to live long, you need to eliminate all indoor air pollution in your home and office. But in case you want specifics, the following health conditions should satisfy your curiosity.
1. Asthma and Pneumonia
Poor indoor air quality has a tendency to worsen existing lung disease. People with asthma tend to have more frequent attacks if the air is filled with dangerous particles such as mold, pollen, cockroach debris, animal hair and dust mites. People who stay in homes with mold tend to contract infections which in turn weaken their immune system, making them susceptible to respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.
2. Cancer and Heart Disease
People who frequent bars and clubs are exposing themselves to second-hand smoke, which can result in lung cancer. Of course it doesn’t happen to everyone, but the numbers do bring cause for alarm with about 50,000 people dying every year from cancers and heart disease that result from second-hand smoke.
This is not surprising considering that cigarettes typically contain about 60 known carcinogens and over 180 toxins including carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Another indoor air pollutant culprit is Radon. This naturally occurring radioactive gas can seep in through the various drains in the home, and exposure to it can result in lung cancer. In fact, studies show that is responsible for about 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the US annually.
3. Scarring of the Lung Tissue
Asbestos typically have fibers that scar and injure the lungs when inhaled. People whose homes have asbestos are more likely to get their lungs scarred. And in extreme cases, they could get mesothelioma or even lung cancer.
4. Allergies and Hypersensitivity
Poor indoor air can result in increased allergies and crisis periods, hypersensitivity, nausea, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, sinus congestion, coughs, sneezing, nose bleeds, rashes, fever, chills, painful breathing, hearing loss, headaches, and shortness of breath. Usually, leaving the area where you noticed these symptoms will make you feel better. If you notice this happening frequently, chances are the air quality in your home is poor.
Precautionary Steps You Should Take
Since these things tend to trigger allergies and infections, you need to be careful about your home. Get your home tested for radon, molds and other possibly dangerous pollutants. Clean the beddings frequently to eliminate the dust mites, vacuum frequently, use air purifiers, check for cracked foundations, floorboards, ceilings, walls and anywhere some of the toxic gases like radon can enter the house. Control or eliminate the growth of mold by aerating specified areas, clean the house and under the sink frequently, and ventilate frequently.
Oscar King is a student of environmental sciences at Florida Atlantic University who has returned to his home in Sanford for the summer. Thanks to his studies he is aware of the importance of clean air in the home, and fully recommends Facemyer Air Conditioning and Heating in Orlando to maintain the best indoor air quality.