One would expect air in the home to be clean. However, it is reported that air inside the home is generally between two to five times more polluted that the air outside.
Symptoms of Polluted Air in the Home
Regrettably, indoor air pollutants may affect your health in some of the following ways.
- Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
- Getting headaches.
- Feeling dizzy.
- Feeling tired or fatigued.
- Coming down with respiratory diseases.
- Getting cardiovascular diseases like heart disease.
- Getting lung cancer.
- May be, even a stroke.
- Now, short term exposure to say ground-level ozone can lead to respiratory infections and reduce lung function or aggravate asthma.
- Meanwhile, exposure to sulphur dioxide may damage eyes, respiratory tract, as well as irritating skin.
- Finally, allergies are not only aggravated by airborne particles like dust, pollen, and dander, but also by airborne chemicals from cleaning products, flooring, and furniture.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
So, how does air in the home gets so polluted. Now, windows of homes, in general are shut tight. Indeed, this is especially true during the cold winter months when homes are heated, or the hot summer months when air-conditioners are in use. As a result, the air inside the home is trapped. Moreover, this trapped air can get polluted. Now, some of the causes of this indoor air pollution include the following.
- Many household cleaning products contain harmful chemicals like alcohol, chlorine, ammonia that can irritate your eyes, throat, or cause headaches. Also, some release dangerous volatile organic compounds that can contribute to chronic respiratory problems and aggravate allergies, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses.
- Air fresheners. Scientist at University of California at Berkeley reported that some top-selling air fresheners contain significant amounts of ethylene-based glycol ethers that are known to cause neurological issues such as fatigue, nausea, tremor, and anemia. Furthermore, many air fresheners contain phthalates that are harmful to infants and children whose endocrine systems has not yet fully developed.
- Use of pesticides for ants, mice, cockroaches, and others.
- Carpets, especially when new, emit hazardous Volatile Organic Compounds, also known as VOCs, like toluene, benzene, ethyl benzene, formaldehyde, bromine, styrene, and acetone. These VOCs are known to cause headaches, throat and eye irritation, allergies, confusion, and drowsiness. Meanwhile, long term exposure to these toxins can cause learning and memory impairment, birth defects, diseases of the liver, thyroid, kidneys, and blood.
- By the way, gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide which mixes with air to create nitric acid and toxic organic nitrates. These can irritate your lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections such as influenza. Moreover, frequent exposure to high concentrations of nitrates may cause acute respiratory illnesses in children.
- Newly applied paint contains VOCs that pollute the air for weeks or months. These fumes can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea, exacerbate asthma, fatigue, skin allergies, confusion, and impair memories.
- Personal care products
- Hobbies that use glue or paint.
- Excess moisture in the home.
- Use of humidifiers. A dirty humidifier can emit bacteria into the air, and that could be a problem for people with asthma or allergies and cause flu-like symptoms. Because they are constantly damp, humidifiers can become breeding grounds for mold and bacteria if they are not properly maintained. Moreover, any mold spores or bacteria that develop in the system will be spread around the house as the humidifier runs.
- Seepage of gases like carbon monoxide and radon.
- An improperly adjusted gas stove can emit significantly more carbon monoxide than one that is properly adjusted.
- Use of fuel-burning combustion appliances.
- Presence of building materials containing lead or asbestos.
- Deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation.
- Newly installed flooring, upholstery, or carpet.
- Cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products. Also, furniture contains chemical fire retardants that evaporate to contaminate house dust which can become airborne. These pollutants may cause children exposed in the womb to have lower IQs and attention problems. Studies have linked flame retardants to cancer, male infertility, male birth defects, and early puberty in girls.
- Tobacco products
- Dust is not only an irritant; it is also one of the main transmission medium for airborne chemicals as well as dust mites.
- Animal dander
- Even cockroaches
Home Air Cleaners
A home air cleaner helps to purify the air by preventing the accumulation of dust on surfaces by trapping dust in the air. Also, these cleaners can trap animal dander, airborne mold spores, bacteria, viruses and even pet odors. Meanwhile, these air cleaners can be complimented with cleaners for hard or carpeted floors which also collect dust, animal dander, hair, pollen, and other pollutants.