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Indoor Air Pollution

August 26, 2010

Indoor air pollution is also dangerous like outdoor air pollution, cause we keep ourselves indoor most of the time whether it may be in office or home. So, we need to take steps to avoid indoor air pollution more effectively.

One of the top five threats to human health is poor indoor air quality. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that indoor air is typically between two and five times as polluted as outdoor air. In some cases, indoor air can be as much as 100 times more contaminated.

Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of poor indoor air quality. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and not carrying indoor air pollutants outside the building. A condition known as “low exchange rate” where the the indoor air is not exchanged for outdoor air quickly enough is responsible for this
condition.

Indoor tobacco use High temperatures and humidity can increase concentrations of some pollutants. Combustion sources are common indoor air pollutants and include oil heating and lighting, gas stoves, kerosene lighting, coal heating, wood heating and tobacco use. Indoor combustion gas pollution can be prevented by installing sealed-combustion furnaces and power-vented gas burning water heaters.

Other sources of pollutants are building materials and furnishings (off-gassing), insulation containing asbestos, wet or damp carpet (see mold), pressed wood products, household cleaning and maintenance products, humidification devices, and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides and outdoor air pollution from industrial sources. Indoor pollutants can be reduced by choosing building materials wisely. Use of low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, carpets, cabinets and substitute wood products can help reduce the concentration of these pollutants.Indoor Air Pollution sources

The health effects of indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure to these conditions. Symptoms may include irritation of the eyes, nose or throat, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Long term effects may include respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer.

The Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos fibers is a mineral fiber that was added to various to a variety of products to provide insulation and fire protection. Until the 1970’s, many types of building products and insulation contained asbestos. Common products in buildings that may contain asbestos (if manufactured before 1970) and may release fibers include: steam pipes, boilers and furnace ducting; certain floor tiling containing vinyl, asbestos, rubber and asphalt; soundproofing or decorative material; door gaskets in furnaces, wood and coal burning stoves; patching and joint compounds; cement roofing, shingles and siding; and artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas fireplaces.

Evidence of the health effects of asbestos use can be seen in the health problems being experienced by the rescue and cleanup workers who were present for the cleanup effort at the World Trade Center site after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Many workers experienced upper and lower bronchial tract problems, lung ailments and in some cases death.

Most household and/or building products today do not contain asbestos. Today, products that are made with asbestos that may be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. We are all exposed to small amounts of asbestos in our daily lives but most people do not develop associated health problems. Breathing in
high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavity), and asbestosis (scarring of the lungs with fibrous tissue.)

Asbestos fibers, of which there are several types, can only be positively identified by with a scanning electron microscope and should be left to qualified contractors to identify and remove them.Health effects of asbestos ingestion.

Houseplants: The Cure For Indoor Air Pollution

While there are numerous things you can do to significantly prevent  indoor air pollution (we’ll cover that in another post), adding houseplants is something you can do today to reduce the pollution that currently exists in your home or office.

When they were handing out green thumbs, I was too engrossed in my enjoyment of a fine, handcrafted ale to pay attention. For those of you that know me, that should come as no surprise. I regret that now. The green thumb, not the ale.  I never regret a really good handcrafted ale….

Growing green thumb as houseplants do more than add beauty to a space. Did you know they can filter out pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene and other VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) from the air? That’s a very good thing considering indoor air pollution can be up to 100 times worse than outdoor air.Given the rise in asthma and other chemical sensitivity illnesses, and the fact that most of us spend 90% of our day indoors, it’s time to take the quality of the air we breathe seriously.

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