Indoor Air Pollution – Indoor Air Pollution May Be More Dangerous than Outdoor Pollution
Feng shui means wind-water, two most important elements for sustaining life. You can live without water for a few days but not without air. Indoor pollution is sometimes worse than outdoor pollution.
Watch this video about indoor air pollution from Mercola.com
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air pollution may be two to five times higher indoors than you experience outside, as I explain in this short video. In fact, some pollutants may be as much as 100 times greater indoors.17 Poor indoor air quality is one of the top risks to public health, as it contributes to the development of dangerous health conditions. As newer homes are more airtight to reduce energy leaks, they also reduce the amount of air exchange.
In fact, some newer homes come with instructions teaching homeowners to properly ventilate the home in order to reduce indoor pollution.18 The problem affects not only residential homes but also office buildings and schools.
After the installation of a cell tower on the top of a school building outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, students were exposed to diesel fumes as exhaust from a generator was sucked into the building’s ventilation system. In a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers found a link between exposure to indoor pollution and cognitive function after measuring the mental performance of office workers exposed to controlled amounts of indoor pollution.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants
Many times, your exposure to indoor pollution is not unusual, as in the example above, but rather commonplace, courtesy of everyday items. Some of the more common toxic exposures include:
Protect Your Health Against Air Pollution
Although the number of potential pollutants is large, there are several strategies you may use to reduce your exposure:
Open your windows
One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce air pollution in your home is to open the windows and let fresh air in. Since most homes are tightly sealed these days, opening the windows for as little as 15 minutes every day can improve the quality of the air you’re breathing.
An attic fan may increase your fresh air and reduce your air conditioning costs. Kitchen and bathroom fans that vent to the outside can help remove contaminants from these rooms.
Consider a heat recovery ventilator (HRV)
Since most newer homes are more air-tight, making air exchange with outdoor air more difficult, some builders are now installing HRV systems to help prevent condensation and mold growth and improve indoor air quality.
If you can’t afford to install an HRV, open your windows and run the bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to vent your indoor air to the outside for approximately 15 minutes daily, summer and winter. You might lose a little in electricity costs, but the improvement to your health is worth it.
Decorate with plants
Houseplants are functional decorations that brighten your space and purify the air. Greenery improves your mental and emotional health as well. Try adding an aloe, English ivy, rubber tree, peace lily or snake plant in your home or apartment to improve your air quality and reduce your stress levels.
More on indoor air purifying plants
Service your fuel-burning appliances
Poorly maintained natural gas heaters and stoves, furnaces, hot water heaters, space heaters, water softeners and other fuel-burning appliances can leak carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Keep the humidity below 50 percent indoors
Mold grows in damp and humid environments. Use a dehumidifier and air conditioner to keep your humidity under 50 percent. Keep the units cleaned so they don’t become another source of pollution.
Avoid smoking indoors
Ask smokers to go outside. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, pipes and cigars contains over 200 known carcinogenic chemicals.
Avoid scented candles, air fresheners and hazardous cleaning supplies
Candles and air fresheners release VOCs into your home. You might enjoy the scent, but it’s not worth the risk to your health. Instead, remove garbage from your home as often as necessary and keep soiled laundry away from the living areas. Clean with less hazardous supplies, such as white vinegar and baking soda.
Clean air ducts and regularly change air filters
The air ducts from your forced air heating and air conditioning units can be a source of pollution in your home. If there is mold growth, a buildup of dust and debris, or if the ducts have become home to vermin, it’s time to call a professional and have them cleaned. Change your furnace and air filters every three months or earlier if they appear to be dirty.
Roll up your car windows and recirculate the air
Rolling up your car windows and using the recirculation setting when you are in heavy traffic, or stopping frequently at red lights, will reduce your exposure to air pollution from diesel and car exhaust.
Research shows exposure when the windows are open is more than six times greater than for pedestrians at a three- or four-way intersection. While shutting the windows in your car is important to reduce air pollution, in newer and more air-tight cars you may experience a buildup of carbon dioxide.
Too much carbon dioxide in the car may increase your experience of drowsiness, fatigue, confusion, headache and sleepiness.34 These are dangerous symptoms to experience while driving a car. To prevent this from happening, researchers recommend you pull in outside air for one to two minutes every 10 to 15 minutes to facilitate air exchange, while still minimizing over exposure to air pollution.