When people hear the term air pollution, they mostly envision industrial complexes and toxic fumes rising into the atmosphere. These troublesome images aren’t really off the mark, but what we often overlook is our own living environments, in which we spend a large portion of our life, are plagued by various pollutants. Toxic clouds float around our homes, not just urban jungles and distant horizons, and that calls for a proactive approach. Maintaining an optimal indoor climate is thus paramount for the health and well-being of all inhabitants.
Clear The Air
The quality of air is the mainstay of health and encompasses much more than we assume: Our homes, offices, institutions, and even vehicles. Alas, according to the EPA, indoor air quality is one of the top five environmental risks when it comes to public health. It’s quite shocking that this institution also found the number of pollutants that afflict indoor spaces can be 2 to 5 times higher than those that occur outside. Schools are among the worst places when it comes to this criterion, but nearly all homes (96%) have at least one indoor air quality problem.
Many of them are caused by toxic candles (due to carcinogens benzene and toluene), use of various household cleaners, and even air fresheners, at least those that utilize noxious phthalates. Furthermore, older furniture also contains toxic PBDEs, chemicals that served as flame retardants, although newer products can also conceal the same dangers. Technology brings harmful chemicals into our living space as well. Take, for instance, inkjet printers that contain glymes, industrial substances that impede development and reproductive function.
Apart from that, there are some other air pollutants that need to be on our radar: Pet dander, wood smoke, carbon monoxide, radon (a leading cause of cancer besides smoking), mold, pollen, and voltaic organic compounds (VOCs). Now, these dangers do not affect only our respiratory system. When inhaled, they easily pass into the bloodstream, and some of them are even capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. Among the most common symptoms are fatigue, nasal congestion, nausea, headaches, dry eyes, etc.
An Ultimate Price
Even worse, according to the WHO, 4.3 million people die annually from consequences of exposure to indoor pollutants, with stroke being the number one killer. Namely, scientists have identified some other related conditions like lung infection and cancer. Pollutants that end up in the bloodstream can induce conditions like depression, while children are prone to neural distress, inflammation, and immune system dysfunction. Since the early 1980s, asthma is on the rise for all social groups, albeit elderly, and people with existing health conditions and disabilities tend to suffer the most.
So, what can we do to combat this predicament? First off, strive to remove the aforementioned sources of pollution. Note that stagnant air and poor ventilation add fuel to the fire, as they allow pollutants to build up. So, do not forget to get your daily dosage of fresh air and sunlight, and cross-ventilate the home, even more so in winter when most homes are sealed tightly. Some gasses like radon can be tested with inexpensive kits that can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores.
A Positive Change
Feel free to take advantage of advanced solutions such as HEPA air filters that have been scientifically proven to bring results. You can also employ indoor air quality monitors to gain a realistic picture. Finally, always pay attention to your habits: Activities like cleaning can inhibit your efforts, so dust with a damp cloth and steer away from toxic cleaners. Adopt a strict no-smoking policy in your home. Inspect the furnace, chimney, or any gas and fuel burning appliances you possess. Remember that the lifestyle adjustments go a long way in preserving a healthy ambiance for humans to live and thrive.
Clean Bill of Health
Air quality plays a crucial role, as it acts as a warden of the healthy environment. A growing body of research suggests that it can have devastating effects on the quality of life. Associated symptoms range from feeling dizziness to severe health issues. There are indeed many problems that raise eyebrows and demand a proper response. I have managed to turn the situation around with new habits and products such as air purifiers. Be ever vigilant if you mean to keep the elusive menaces at bay, and protect yourself and your family from hazards.
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