You may be harming your health and don't even know it!
Indoor air quality is something you may have heard talked about...and maybe
you haven’t. If you have, maybe you understand what that is all
about…and maybe you don't. The statistics of how much of modern diseases
and ill health are thought to be caused by indoor air pollution are
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So I am asking you, to ask yourself, "What am I breathing?" Chances are you don’t really know.
So what is meant by poor indoor air quality and what is acceptable? But the big question is: If most of our homes have indoor air pollution then how would we FEEL if it was not only acceptable but really clean?
Let's start by answering those questions and then we can perhaps craft some indoor air quality guidelines that we can implement in our homes and offices to really benefit our health.
Firstly, the most obvious one is that the air in our homes can become polluted if the outdoor air is polluted –- it just travels in through the doorways, windows, vents, and any gaps and cracks in the walls.
But what most people don’t know is that the indoor air can be polluted by the presence of hazardous building materials of the home and furniture, paints and adhesives, the use of chemical cleaning products, scents and sprays, toiletries, smoking, animal dander, dust mites, mold and fungi, dyes in carpets, synthetic fabrics, curtains in soft furnishings, chemicals in mattresses and bedding, dry-cleaning residues, faulty cooking equipment (gas), fireplaces and heaters burning wood, coal, gas or kerosene, car exhaust in attached garages, and homes and buildings that are too closed and sealed.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has defined indoor air as the air within a building which is occupied for at least one hour by people of varying states of health.
The CSIRO has estimated that the cost of poor indoor air quality in Australia alone could be as high as $12 billion per year (Brown, 1998). In recent years, indoor air pollution has been consistently ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health (US EPA, 1993), according to comparative risk studies performed by the US EPA and its Science Advisory Board.
Sealing a building too well prevents air exchange between indoor and outdoor, and insufficient air exchange can lead to the build-up of air pollutants, and also moisture which favors the development of dust mites and molds. (See Sick Building Syndrome)
What does poor indoor air quality do to me and my family?
Poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of respiratory diseases such as the exacerbation of asthma and irritations and infections of the respiratory tract. In addition, it can cause headaches, dry eyes, skin irritation, neurotoxic symptoms, nausea, hypersensitivity, and fatigue.
It is important to note that symptoms may vary tremendously from person to person and depends on individual sensitivity. Some effects are just like colds or other viral diseases so it is difficult to determine the cause. If you feel your symptoms may be caused from exposure to pollutants it is crucial to note the time and place the symptoms occurred and exactly what those symptoms were.
How do I know if my symptoms are caused by the air in my home?
If the symptoms fade or go away when a person is away from the home and return when the person returns, and if it gets worse during activities like dusting or cleaning, effort should be made to identify indoor air sources that may be possible causes.
Other health effects may show up either after long or repeated periods of exposure, or years after the exposure occurred. These effects, which include heart disease, some respiratory diseases, and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is important to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if you have no symptoms now.
Who is most likely to be affected?
Some people are more vulnerable to pollutants eg. children who already have respiratory diseases; the very young and the very old; those who are sensitized to a substance; and those who spend more time indoors than others, are at increased risk of suffering from the effects of indoor air pollution.to Find Out What We Can Do to avoid being affected by these indoor pollutants...