Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Pollution not only refers to the air, water or land pollution but the contamination of indoor air in our home or office is also a kind of pollution. Indoor air pollution is the primary mode of pollution that we come in contact with primarily as we spent most of the time indoor, especially women and children.
This is the reason these days people have become more vulnerable to diseases due to weaker immune systems. There are various household activities, various materials and products used indoor that contribute to sources of indoor air pollution. Some of the sources that cause indoor air pollution are listed here –
What Causes Indoor Air Pollution Majorly?
- Environmental tobacco Smoking
- When we talk about the sources of indoor air pollution, the first thing that comes to our mind is tobacco smoking quite obviously. The chemicals released due to tobacco smoking stays for a long time in the air that can be inhaled long after it has been released.
- Environmental tobacco smoking (ETS) is equally harmful as the direct smoking of cigar and cigarette is. The harmful effects of smoking are well known by everyone that includes lung cancer, heart problems, irritation in eyes, nose & throat, asthma, etc.
- Carbon Monoxide
- You cannot make out the presence of carbon monoxide at your home as it is colorless, tasteless and odorless. There are various sources of indoor air pollution caused by carbon monoxide such as wood stoves, furnaces, environmental tobacco smoke, gas stoves & heaters, chimneys, etc.
- Carbon monoxide may affect the blood circulation and nervous system of our body. The high concentration of carbon monoxide may cause dizziness, lack of coordination, nausea, headache, etc.
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Nitrogen oxide appears reddish-brown in color with a sharp smell. As far as the sources of nitrogen oxide emission are concerned, these are very much similar to carbon monoxide. Nitrogen dioxide may also cause health issues more or less similar to carbon monoxide such as dizziness, nausea, headache, loss of concentration, etc.
- Asbestos is one of the major sources of indoor air pollution in developing countries. It is the main component of many home construction materials such as paints, floor tiles, ceiling, and in some other building materials. Asbestos is actually a kind of magnesium silicate and its fibers are quite small that can be inhaled quite easily without any notification.
- Asbestos is most harmful in the case of older homes as compared to the newer ones. As your home becomes old the risk involved with the harmful effects of asbestos becomes more such as abdominal cancer, lung cancer, mesothelioma, etc.
- Formaldehyde is basically an organic compound and comes under the leading types of indoor air pollution. It stays in gaseous form at room temperature as it is invisible. Tobacco smoke, textiles (like durable press drapes), pressed wood (like hardwood, plywood, fiberboard, etc.), glues, etc. play a vital role as formaldehyde sources.
- Higher concentrations of formaldehyde present at home can cause various health issues such as irritation in eyes, nose, skin & throat, cough, fatigue and in some cases, it may cause cancer like severe health issues.
- Radon is present in deep beneath your home in the bedrocks of the foundation. It is a colorless, tasteless & odorless gas. It is highly radioactive gas and the worst part is that radon does not show any immediate symptoms. You will be inhaling it completely be unaware of this fact.
- According to a study, the amount of radon present in homes is almost three times more active as compared to the outdoor presence of it. Continuous inhalation of radon for a long time may lead to lung cancer (especially smokers are much vulnerable to lung cancer-causing harmful effects of radon gas).
- Candles may give an elegant look to your home decor but are also one of the sources of indoor air pollution. The harmful gases and leftover sediments may cause various harms to you. Burning of candles (whether it is paraffin, vegetable oil, beeswax or soy candle) releases few soot carbon particles that may cause respiratory problems to you and your family members.
- Room Fresheners
- Room fresheners are a widely used product in our homes but you may not aware of its impacts on our health. Prolonged exposure to air fresheners may lead to health problems.
- Some room fresheners contain ethylene-based glycol ethers which may cause neurological & blood effects to our body along with nausea, anemia, fatigue, etc. Some other room fresheners contain phthalates that are highly harmful to endocrine systems, especially for children.
- Pesticides and other cleaning agents
- The basic reason for using pesticides is to kill pests so you can imagine the harmful effects of them. It releases various chemicals in the air. When we inhale these chemicals, it may cause serious health implications (like irritation in eyes, nose, throat, etc.). Higher concentrations of these chemicals may also harm your nervous system & kidney.
- Dusting activities
- Dusting activities are quite common sources of indoor air pollution. While dusting we release many micro dust particles in indoor air. When these dust particles enter into our body through inhaling it may cause breathing problems.
- Heaters, Wood-stoves, and Gas stoves, etc.
- Cooking activities in the kitchen releases some harmful gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, radon, etc. Long-time exposure to these gases may cause frequent headaches, continuous fatigue, irritation in eyes & nose, rashes in skin, respiratory problems, etc.
- Biological factors
- There could be various biological factors that cause indoor air pollution such as molds, bugs, insects, mildews, etc. These biological factors can cause asthma, fevers, lungs problem, irritation in the skin, etc. It is quite tough to get rid of these biological factors completely. However, if you can minimize the level of moisture in your home then you can manage the problem of mold somehow.
- You should maintain the cleanliness to handle the problem of bugs & insects. You can also try pest control to tackle the problem of bugs & insects.
- Organic gases
- Organic gases also known as VOC (Volatile Organic Gases) contribute to sources of indoor air pollution. There are many sources in our home that are responsible for VOC emission and some of these are- pesticides, printers, permanent markers, some building materials, paints, glue, cleaning supplies, photocopies, etc.
- The lower concentration of VOC may cause irritation in skin, nose, eyes, dizziness, nausea, etc. There are some VOCs that are even more toxic to our body and may cause severe health issues like cancer.
- Carpets are commonly used home furnishing products in everyone’s home. It is an easily available place for dust and in moist conditions, it invites various bacteria and fungus to grow in it. When you come in contact with these bacteria and fungus, it may cause headache, nausea, fever, etc.
- Paints give beautiful finishing to your rooms but these paints also include some health risks. There are certain paints available that releases VOCs while drying, especially enamels. People (especially kids) coming in contact with these VOCs may have a feeling of headache, nausea, fatigue, etc.
- The adhesives used in the making of furniture sometimes contain formaldehyde like a carcinogen. This formaldehyde does not have any immediate reaction but it may release formaldehyde fumes over time passes. It may cause allergic reactions in people staying at home or office.
- Household cleaning products
- We mostly use different cleaning products to maintain the cleanliness of our home. Most of the cleaning products contain toxic chemicals like alcohol, ammonia, chlorine, etc. The use of these cleaning products may cause irritation in your skin, headaches, respiratory problems, etc.
- Damaged CFL
- Compact Fluorescent Lights commonly known as CFLs are widely used in homes, offices, apartments, etc. The use of CFL is an ideal way to save energy but if it breaks even accidentally releases mercury. Mercury emission may lead to some health issues.
Health effects of poor air quality can lead to various health issues, especially for kids. We should use an air purifier, keep and maintain our garden and grow more plants to get fresh new air as plants can really help us to fight air pollution.