Air pollution has been fast rising as an alarming problem with over 140 million people breathing air 10 times more than the safe limit set by WHO. It has now become a serious concern that is too large to ignore, especially for those dwelling in cities and metropolitans, causing over 2 million related deaths.
However, shockingly many of us aren’t aware of the scenario of air pollution indoors, which is where an average person spends 90 percent of their time. In fact, going by scientific studies, air within homes and buildings is far more polluted than air present outside in large industrial cities. And, being exposed for a prolonged and continuous period of time has caused quite a peril to the health of many, especially for growing children, elderly and the chronically ill.
While one may isolate cases of indoor pollution to poorly maintained homes and lack of facilities, even living at luxurious abodes, amidst huge technology flux can create conditions that are susceptible to indoor air pollution. In other words, Indoor air pollution is still an issue that haunts the state of health to this day.
Building our homes, we look into every aspect of planning; creating the perfect homes with beautiful lawns and furnishings. But in spite of all that, there are still our daily activities that add to the cause of duress.
Real estate’s haven’t remained untouched with the increasing swarm of technology, with many homeowners now wanting all smart and tech-savvy trends at their homes. With built-in automation systems for lighting, security, window shades, and other climate control systems being in full-fledged use, homes have become not just a place of dwelling but a place of comfort and luxury.
Though we are keen on investing in such amenities and facilities that align with our interests and comforts, one thing which we haven’t been able to perceive is the quality of air in our homes. While a leak or broken are all visible which effect change, indoor air pollution is a silent yet risky problem that may creep into our havens.
With rooms mostly air-conditioned, there isn’t much air drawn from outside, which subsequent to the same polluted air being re-circulated throughout the homes. Though filters work to an extent, gaseous and minute particles may evade it and bring down your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). It isn’t helped by the fact that there is now a general liking towards large glass fixtures instead of windows which can cut down on important air circulation. So how does one go about good IAQ in our homes?
Identifying the areas of concern
- • Beautifully Modular kitchens with well-docked shelves, appliance lined counter along with opulent cabinets may be a dream come true for many, but even with all the new rage of household stoves, gases and particles from combustion are still a source of indoor air pollution. From heaters to stoves, pollutants from combustion like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter, etc. can be released into the air. CO can cause quite a set of symptoms like headaches and fatigue etc. Fitting CO alarms near kitchens and bedrooms can help the levels on checks while facilitating proper vents and exhausts for kitchens can prevent products from combustion contaminating your indoor air.
- • It is often common to find game and theatre rooms in mansion styled villas, and it has become a definite fixture in affluent homes. But yet again, poor ventilation and building materials can create a case of indoor air pollution which may aggravate with the lack of ventilation. Installment of a proper HVAC system and air purifier systems can help in maintaining the IAQ, especially given the excess of furnishings such as seating and curtains which can lead to an increase of airborne particles
- • Gym/exercise rooms have become another must facility in our home with a plethora of equipment and sound systems to accompany. However, the humid conditions of the gym fueled by sweat and exertion can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, along with spurt of virus and bacterial spread. Added to the fact, lack of a proper ventilation system can create an imbalance in the composure of gases, with an increased amount of CO2 along with bad odor. But, a well-designed ventilation system can aid in setting the right balance while also providing you with a healthy environment to get fit.
Other contaminants at home
Contaminants at home normally range from one single entry to a combination of different things which reduce your IAQ. Having discussed combustion, the other causes of indoor pollution are tobacco smoke, Radon, Mold, and mildew, Dust and pet dander, VOC from Cleaning products, Rodent droppings, and Pesticides, etc.
Volatile organic compounds, as the name suggests have extremely low boiling points owing to which they vaporize even at room temperature. And VOCs are present in countless products from paints to perfumes, home furnishings, flooring, shampoos, cleaning agents and shower curtains, etc. The concentration of VOC is much higher indoors than compared to outdoors, almost two to five times higher according to EPA, and are susceptible to sudden increases with specific indoor activities such as paint stripping, etc. The short term effects of VOC can range from headaches, irritation, and nausea, with the long term effects being as devastating as brain damage and cancer.
Though it may seem that one can control the influx of VOC with preventing the usage of them, the alarming fact is that VOCs are often present in most of our personal care products, be it in deodorants, shampoos, nail polish, etc. Also, most of our home care products carry chemicals called terpenes to mimic the smell of nature and trees, and these terpenes are very reactive in nature, forming compounds with other chemicals present on the environment.
Even home furnishings and flooring aren’t free of this predicament, with most of them continuously releasing such compounds into the air. Vinyl flooring and even sofa cushions lined with flame retardants such as PBDEs can generate chemicals which are detrimental to one’s health. Air fresheners which are commonly employed inside our homes mostly contain phthalates that resemble hormones found naturally in our body and may disrupt our body systems.
Mold and mildew
Having a swanky spa-like bathroom with wooden panels and intricate interior workmanship only to have water leakage and mold growth can be detrimental to your health and aesthetics of your home. Fungi which develop on warm and humid conditions contaminate your indoor air triggering asthma attacks and other allergic reactions. Though your bathroom and basement may be most susceptible, even pool decks could fold to this predicament.
Dust and dander
Apart from mold, dust mites, cockroach droppings and pet dander are other major contributors to allergic reactions and asthma triggers. Being airborne, these particles on chronic exposure can lead to serious respiratory problems
Prevent poor indoor air quality
Controlling indoor air pollution starts with identifying the cause of it and limiting it. Here are some handy tips
- • Check for issues of leaks from roofs, walls or floors, where mold and other agents can act upon the IAQ. It can play a major difference in controlling pollution.
- • To prevent mold and mildew, the key is to keep away moisture and maintain humidity on the lower end, using dehumidifier or exhaust fans to circulate air. Small scale surfaces can be cleaned up using a solution of bleach or just soap and water, while on the large scale, air testing companies can come in handy.
- • Limit pesticide use
While pests and rodents can cause quite an issue, pesticides used to eliminate them can bring in a whole lot of risk and raise the pollutant level indoors with the addition of dangerous chemicals. Though tempting to use, pesticides are toxic in nature introducing organic compounds that elevate the level of VOC which on continuous exposure can culminate with headaches, nausea, and other serious health implications, etc. Utilizing non-chemical natured pest control methods is the safest way to go about it or at the least, ensure maximum ventilation while using one.
- • Similarly, prevent uses of known perpetrators like scented candles, aerosols, and cigarette within the confines of your homes and apply the same caution while buying personal care products, reading the ingredients and avoiding ones containing phthalates, formaldehyde and flame retardants, etc.
- • Having smart ventilation systems with operatable windows, especially in kitchens can keep your air rejuvenated and fresh.
- • Portable air purifiers and vacuums with HEPA filters can help in ridding off small airborne particles that settle on lungs.
Test your homes right away
With primary interests lying at creating a perfect bode for your family, there are varied investments you would make to intersperse it with all the comfort required. But air quality, though not a visible feature is a potent factor that decides on the wellness of your family and loved ones. To prevent poor IAQ, it is quintessential that you schedule regular air testing; not just one-off but on a regular period to ensure that your homes have safe IAQ levels. Indoor air testing also allows identifying the chief pollutant and ways of preventing or controlling it.
Incepbio, aimed at preventive wellness and validation, take utmost care and precision to test your indoor air at your homes for a variety of pollutants and allergens. From testing for radon to other volatile compounds, we carry the required certifications and equipment to check for any pollutants. There are myriad benefits to air testing – you are at an increased comfort level with productivity and energy also at a peak. You have access to clean and odor free air which is also augmentative to your good health.