Air pollution isn’t limited to the outdoors. It can occur inside your home as well. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in fact, concentrations of airborne pollutants are often two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. By understanding what causes indoor air pollution, you can create a cleaner home that’s better for you and your family’s health.
What Is Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor air pollution refers to contaminants suspended in the air inside of a home or building. Contaminants can consist of particulate matter, gases or microorganisms. Regardless, all contaminants are unnatural substances that float around in the air. As levels of these contaminants increase, the air will become more polluted.
Common sources of indoor air pollution include:
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Health Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
Different people are affected by indoor air pollution in different ways. Some people are allergic to certain contaminants. When exposed to a common airborne contaminant, they experience an allergy attack.
Depending on the specific type of contaminant, indoor air pollution may cause respiratory irritation. The EPA notes that eye, nose and throat irritation are some of the most common health effects of indoor pollution. Respiratory irritation such as this often occurs from exposure to VOCs, cleaning chemicals or combustion gases.
Indoor air pollution can increase the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer. Radon, for example, is a radioactive gas that’s been linked to lung cancer. It can enter a home through the rocks or soil around the foundation. Being that radon is odorless and tasteless — as well as invisible — it’s not easy to detect.
How to Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
How can you reduce indoor air pollution exactly? Since combustion gases are a contaminant, you should be cautious when using gas-powered appliances or when using a wood-burning fireplace. Fires produce combustion gases that need to be vented outside. Otherwise, they’ll cause indoor air pollution.
Maintaining your heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system will reduce indoor air pollution. Whether you’re using the air conditioner or furnace, your HVAC system will circulate air through a filter. Air filters, of course, are designed specifically to remove contaminants. If there are contaminants in the air, the filter will remove them.