What is indoor air pollution and how can you fix it?
Dealing with increasing air pollution is getting difficult with each passing day. And, surprisingly, things have started affecting your indoor lifestyle now. With an increasing amount of allergens and toxic gases from everyday life devices, we need to start thinking of ways to handle indoor pollution in a whole new way. Smart home purifiers and robotic vacuums can be great options to begin with.
According to The New Yorker, while outdoor air pollution has been regulated for decades, indoor air pollution generated by our daily domestic activities can be just as dangerous and is subject to no controls. And from the time we wake up, trudge to the office and start our workday, we spend most of our time indoors. Therein lies the problem.
What is indoor air pollution?
Wait, now you have to worry about indoor air pollution too? Sadly yes. According to On Health, indoor air pollution can occur from the products, chemicals, pets, and building materials in our homes. Poor indoor air quality can result in allergies, sensitivities, and sometimes even serious health concerns. What, exactly, contributes to the poor air quality in our homes? Funny you should ask.
VOCs are everywhere
One of the main culprits of indoor air pollution is VOCs. According to Fatherly, VOCs stands for volatile organic compounds. They include around 13,000 toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, aldehyde, benzene, and toluene. They get produced by household products and building materials. Only things made entirely of glass, steel, concrete, or stone do not produce VOCs. These hazardous chemicals can cause dizziness, nausea, skin rashes, headache, and fatigue. They are also blamed for allergy-like symptoms and can worsen asthma. Long-term exposure can lead to organ problems and could even cause cancer.
While VOCs emitted outdoors can dissipate, those emitted indoors accumulate and become problematic. So, say you live in an area that experiences particularly cold winters. For three months a year, you rarely open the windows because it’s freezing. However, with minimal draft, the VOCs in your home will compound. Also, if you rely on air conditioning in the summer, it’s less likely that you open your house for some air. It’s another way that the VOC concentration in your home increases. Altogether, the air in your home could be more poisonous than it is outside.
Pet dander and dust mites aggravate allergies
As much as we love our furry companions, they are another cause of indoor air pollution. Pets with fur like dogs and cats leave their dander, or skin flakes, in the air. This dander is an allergen for many and can result in sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and wheezing.
Another allergen in our homes is dust mites. Dust mites feed off of human skin flakes and live in our mattresses, sofas, rugs, and clothes. Typically they are not a problem, but some people are severely allergic to them. For these people, dust mites can cause coughs, runny noses, and wheezing. Prolonged exposure can lead to asthma and breathing problems.
Are you breathing in mycotoxins from mold?
Black mold on your ceiling or your hardwood floors is rarely a good sign. Usually, it means you’ve got a leak or that the humidity in your home is too high. Trouble is, mold is a living organism too, and one that can give off nasty toxins called mycotoxins. Medical News Today says that mycotoxins are toxic substances that fungi produce. Inhaling a high concentration of them in contaminated buildings can lead to mycotoxicosis or mold poisoning. Also, fungi produce spores and, for those who are sensitive, breathing them in can trigger allergies.
Common household disinfectants can harm your health
How do you keep your home clean? We’re willing to bet that you, like us, have an arsenal of disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and cleaners to keep your kitchen counters and bathroom sinks bacteria and virus-free. But, when you release the chemicals from these products into the air, they can form complex VOCs that might cause various health problems. On Health says that sprays are particularly harmful and that a study had associated these with a 100% higher chance of asthma diagnoses and other health problems.
Gas stoves and ovens emit hazardous gases
Stoves outfitted with natural gas burners are a popular way to cook food in the U.S. However, On Health says that they can really contribute to indoor air pollution. Natural gas stoves give off carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and some formaldehyde. Homes with natural gas stoves had significantly higher levels of these gasses, especially during colder weather when people avoided opening their windows.
Often, air quality during that time was much higher than federal and state health standards.
How can you improve your home’s air quality?
Probably the best way to improve your home’s air quality and reduce indoor air pollution is to open your windows. Make a plan to air out your home once a day and create a draft with a few open windows. However, if you live in a cold climate, a tiny apartment with few windows, or have pets, you may want to look into buying an air purifier.
We’ve written a great round-up of smart air purifiers. There’s even one that boasts no filter changes. And, together with smart purifiers and robotic vacuums, you can actually handle your indoor pollution in a smarter way.