Indoor Air Quality
Written by: Amy Keller, RN / Edited by: Kim Borwick
For complete article: https://consumernotice.org/environmental/indoor-air-quality/.
Indoor air pollutants can cause health problems ranging from allergies to asthma, and many pollutants are hard to detect. Fortunately, you can take several steps to eliminate sources of indoor air pollution or reduce their effects.
When you think about air pollution, you probably think about the air you breathe when you’re outside. But because we spend 90 percent of our time indoors — and indoor contaminants are usually more highly concentrated — it’s actually indoor air quality that more often affects us.
In fact, a growing body of research indicates that the air inside homes and office buildings is often dirtier than the air in some of the largest and most industrialized cities in the world, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In other words, indoor air quality is an important environmental health issue.
Indoor air pollution can cause an array of unpleasant symptoms, including headaches, coughs, dizziness, fatigue, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Usually these symptoms will resolve when the source of pollution is eliminated. In some cases, though, repeated exposure to air pollution can lead to long-term health problems, such as lung disease, heart disease and cancer.
Indoor air pollution has a variety of causes, including outdoor sources. Outdoor air pollution generated by burning fossil fuels, for instance, can flow inside buildings through cracks, gaps and ventilation systems and become indoor pollution.
Most of this pollution is particulate matter, or tiny particles of matter and droplets of liquid that can become suspended in the air and easily inhaled. Appliances that burn fuels for heating and cooking can also generate indoor particulate matter, as can tobacco smoke.
Other common indoor air pollutants include:
A lack of adequate ventilation can contribute to the buildup of contaminants and make indoor air pollution worse. Inadequate ventilation is the primary cause of half the workplace indoor air investigations conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
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I'm a Certified Professional Home Inspector and I would like to share some common home inspection practices as well as some unseen hazards, safety concerns and general red flags that I find on some of my daily home inspections.