Health Risk at Home: Indoor Air Pollution

Home tips and advice

When we think of air pollution, more often than not, only outdoor air pollution comes to mind — the smog, ozone, and haze in the air. But did you know that indoor air pollution is just as lethal or even more dangerous to health as outdoor air pollution? The World Health Organization even considers indoor air pollution as “the world’s largest single environmental health risk.”

work set up beside the window

With people spending more time indoors due to the pandemic, we are more exposed to indoor  pollutants. There may be no apparent reactions currently, but its effects on one’s health may appear later due to frequent exposure. The most known reactions to this are asthma and dust allergies.

There are various sources of household air pollutants. The most common ones are: indoor smoking, burning solid fuel sources for cooking and heating, use of artificial fragrances, and use of incense and other various forms of mosquito repellants. 

Indoor air quality is also affected by other factors apart from its air pollutant sources, and these are ventilation conditions, temperature, and indoor activities.These air pollutants can increase over time especially when there is not enough air circulation within the house. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase the concentration of air pollutants at home. 

We cannot dispel indoor air pollution entirely, but we can do something about it to lessen our exposure to hazardous substances in the air at home. Here are some ways to do just that.

  1. Avoid smoking indoors. Better yet, just quit smoking altogether! Not only does it sabotage your health but also the health of the people you live with at home. Tobacco gas residuals and particles tend to cling to carpets and fabrics and that can be harsh on the indoor air quality, which leads us to the next point;
  2. Clean or wash your carpets, rugs, and curtains frequently. Apart from cigarette particles, dust also clings onto fabrics which can make indoor air quality poor.
  3. Dust surfaces and mop your house frequently. You can skip the soaps and cleaners for this part. You can just use plain water to capture the lingering dust on walls and floors.
  4. Be sure to clean your fans and air conditioner filters. You wouldn’t want them to accumulate dust and have them spew it out directly at you.
  5. When doing arts and crafts, make sure to be in a well-ventilated area. Craft supplies have chemicals that create fumes. Use them in a well-ventilated place so that the fumes don’t linger inside the home.
  6. Also make sure that your gas stove is well-ventilated. Range hoods can help greatly in collecting steam, smoke, fumes, and airborne particles to avoid them accumulating indoors.
  7. Use a dehumidifier. Dust mites and mold love high levels of humidity. These are biologic indoor air pollutants that create allergens. Using a dehumidifier can help reduce moisture indoors and control these allergens.
  8. Keep your trash bins covered to avoid attracting pests. Segregate your kitchen waste and have them disposed outside instead of indoors since it attracts insects the most.
  9. Minimize the use of air fresheners and furniture sprays. We tend to associate nice fragrances with cleanliness, but these artificial scents can do more harm than good. Synthetic fragrances from air fresheners emit dozens of various chemicals in the air which can be considered toxic. If you haven’t known, most fragrances are derived from petroleum and they can be pretty harmful when inhaled.
  10. Let the air circulate inside your home. Open your windows from time to time. This allows indoor air to get released and not get concentrated inside which contributes to high levels of indoor air pollutants. 

Take these simple precautions and minimize indoor air pollution. This can improve health and indoor conditions in the long run. Your family and certainly your body will thank you for it.


Sources

17 simple ways to prevent air pollution in your home. (2020, March 9). Retrieved May 21, 2021, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/17-simple-ways-prevent-air-pollution-home/

Davis, J. (2008, January 8). 5 ways to improve indoor air quality and reduce air pollution. Retrieved May 21, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/lung/features/12-ways-to-improve-indoor-air-quality

Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2013, November 16). Indoor air pollution. Retrieved May 21, 2021, from https://ourworldindata.org/indoor-air-pollution

Senapati, M. (2020, December 23). Why indoor pollution is as deadly as its outdoor counterpart. Retrieved May 21, 2021, from https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/health/why-indoor-pollution-is-as-deadly-as-its-outdoor-counterpart-74771