5 COMMON MYTHS ABOUT INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Indoor Air Quality Importance
Breathing in quality air is critical to good health. When we think about pollutants, we often think about those found outside be it in the air, the ground or, wataerways. If you think outdoor air is the only thing that is polluted and makes you sick, think again! It may come to you as a surprise that your indoor air is equally contaminated if not more than the outdoor air. Indoor air quality is just as vital to our everyday lives and health, and the pollutants found inside should concern us just as much. We spend about 90% of our time indoors, either inside the four walls of our home or offices, and believe it or not, it is what makes us sick. We may be breathing in toxic, stale, unclear air for most of the day, thereby making us lethargic and fretful. This hidden culprit is all around us, making us sick and we don’t even know, let alone do something about it. Indoor air quality (IAQ) broadly refers to the indoor environmental characteristics inside that may affect human health, comfort, or work performance.
Unlike outdoor air, indoor air does not recycle continuously causing it to trap and build up pollutants. Health effects may show up shortly after a single exposure or repeated exposure to a pollutant. These may include irritation of eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable but if exposed for longer duration may even result in asthma or bronchitis. Additionally, the humidity levels at your home or offices may be harboring pathogens like bacteria or viruses. Air with excess moisture may lead to the growth of mold, bacteria, and other particulates. Thus there is a need to check the IAQ residing within and take suitable measures to support a healthy environment. Some common measures may include using air purifiers and dehumidifiers for the room, ensure suitable natural or forced ventilation methods, etc.
Now that we have looked at how the indoor air quality may be affecting your health, let’s look at some common myths about indoor air.
5 MYTHS ABOUT INDOOR AIR
1. Air Pollution Is Outside
Among all the myths about indoor air, this one is the most bogus. The truth is that the air you’re breathing indoors is sometimes most likely to be more polluted than the air outdoors. If you take a look around your building, you might notice dust mites, fresheners, fragrances, detergents, cleaning agents, and electronics. These are a few examples that cause poor IAQ in commercial buildings. If you consider the way your home or business is built, you will see that it is completely sealed off to prevent the indoor air from escaping. This seal helps provide you with rooms that are a comfortable temperature and ensures that the humidity of your home is balanced but when this air does not circulate properly and mix with outdoor air at the right percentage, the pollutants in your home build up slowly and can reach dangerous levels.
2. Breathing polluted air will make you immune to it
In continuation of the above myth about indoor air, no your constant exposure to the polluted indoor air does not make you immune to it. Pollutants are toxic substances emitted as a result of fuel burning. These toxins can severely impact your immune system, thus making your body lose its strengths to fight infections. So, just as smoking cigarettes will not make you immune to lung cancer or, consuming arsenic will not make you immune to poisoning, breathing in polluted air will only make your respiratory organs weaker. This in turn may lead to asthma, lung cancer, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and even become a cause for your death.
3. Candles and air fresheners do not affect the indoor air
When you smell something foul in your home, you may be tempted to light a candle. Additionally, you may also be tempted to light one for relaxation. However, most candles are made of paraffin, which is harmful and may be depleting your indoor air quality. Using them often can cause a significant decrease in indoor air quality. One good alternative to this may be the use of beeswax candle which doesn’t give off smoke when burning, thus keeping your indoor air quality at bay.
4. New buildings or fresh paint equals better IAQ
Paint fumes are high on volatile organic compounds (VOC) and so are new commercial buildings. VOC lowers the quality of indoor air and is unhealthy. Additionally, materials such as formaldehyde which are used to treat wood, new carpet, and paints are the reasons why the new commercial property may not make for good indoor air quality.
5. Only people with respiratory problems need to worry about air pollution
This is again a classic myth about indoor air, air pollution is caused due to toxic substances. These when inhaled enter the bloodstream and weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to respiratory and coronary diseases. So perfectly healthy bodies can develop respiratory problems when exposed to these air pollutants for an extended period. WHO in its report also highlighted that air pollution is responsible for causing an estimated one-quarter (24%) of all adult deaths from heart disease, 25% from stroke, 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 29% from lung cancer.
With each passing day our interaction with poor indoor air may take affect your health and the health of your loved ones. So, think about your indoor air. Think of good health. Take a step by monitoring your indoor air right from today!
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