Did you know that the air inside your home could be more polluted than the air outside? This is hard to imagine, since when we think about pollutants in the air, we don’t usually think about the air in our own homes. We think of smoke pollution from cars or breathing in secondhand smoke from strangers, rarely realizing how critical the quality of air indoors could be for our health.
Since many of us spend the majority of our time indoors, usually at home or in an office, we’re exposed to the air indoors more than the air outdoors. Prolonged exposure to poor indoor air quality could have adverse effects on our health, especially for those with allergies or asthma. This is especially true for children or the elderly, who spend the most time indoors and have weaker immune systems.
Risks of Poor Indoor Air Quality
The symptoms of poor air quality are usually mistaken for allergies, colds, or the flu. However, a telling sign that these symptoms are from indoor air contaminants is when these symptoms disappear when you’re away from the specific location that causes you distress. Symptoms usually include headaches, coughing, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and more. While these may seem like small nuisances, they can be bothersome over time, and build up to more severe symptoms. Prolonged exposure to pollutants—especially those such as lead or carbon monoxide—can even result in death.
Common Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
Recognizing the root causes of indoor air pollutants will be effective in raising the indoor air quality of your home or office. Here are some of the worst culprits:
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that contaminates the air through drains and cracks in your building’s foundation. When breathed in constantly, it can cause cancer and other serious health problems. Ozone, which comes from electric motors, photocopiers, and other devices, is another common pollutant that, when exposed to long-term, can have similarly dire effects on your body. Compounded with all the bacteria, viruses, dust mites, and pollen build-up that can gather in your home without your noticing, biological contaminants are definitely something to be wary of.
Appliances that burn fuel, such as stoves, furnaces, or fireplaces can release carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrous dioxide (NO2) when not properly ventilated or badly installed. Both CO and NO2 are poisonous gases that are extremely dangerous due to their difficulty to detect, as they are both colorless and odorless. NO2 exposure causes shortness of breath and frequent infections, while inhaling high levels of CO for long can have debilitating effects, such as long-term neurological disabilities, cardiorespiratory failure, and even death.
Insufficient inflow of fresh air into your home or office can affect indoor air quality greatly. Without fresh air, dust mites and allergens accumulate in the air, causing infections, allergic reactions, and asthma attacks.
How Do I Improve the Quality of Air in My Home?
The good news is, we have control over our indoor air environment—way more than we think. Thanks to technology, we now have innovative air quality sensors that allow you to check and monitor the air quality in your building. With a device like this installed in your home or office, you can take efficient and preventative measures to improve indoor air quality, avoiding serious health risks for you and your building’s occupants.
Another simple but effective solution is to improve the air circulation in your building. You can do this by regularly opening doors and windows to let in fresh air, but it also helps to use fans or an air conditioner to circulate and filter the air. If you purchase an indoor air quality sensor with smart home capabilities, you can integrate it with your devices to have it trigger the fans or AC unit once it senses a dip in the indoor air quality. A good air conditioner to circulate and filter the air can also help lower humidity.
Lastly, for preventing a CO or NO2 leak, you have to make sure your fuel burning appliances are properly installed and well maintained. If you’re particularly wary about these gases, then a sensor would prove to be a potentially life-saving investment, as it would alert you immediately when your appliances go awry and release CO and NO2 into the air.
Benefits of Great Indoor Air Quality
Most people, once in control of their indoor air environment, experience a number of benefits that directly affect their lifestyles. Improved indoor air quality not only decreases adverse effects on your health, but can grant you better sleep, higher energy levels, and improved productivity for day to day tasks! Ultimately long-term exposure to quality indoor air should lead to improvements in both your health and your overall lifestyle.
So whether it be for your family or for your employees, maintaining the quality of indoor air in your household or business space is extremely important, not just for the health and safety of the occupants, but also for their comfort and well-being.
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