published 24 April 2018
At the mention of 'air pollution', images of smog, power plants, and emissions from vehicles amid a bustling highway would probably come to your mind. However, the air indoors can be polluted too. These contaminants in the form of gases or particles are released into the air from a variety of sources, which decrease the quality of the indoor air.
We spend as much as 90 per cent of our time indoors, and an even greater amount of time for infants and the elderly, at home, schools and workplaces. As such, we are exposed to these hidden pollutants that can lead to a variety of health problems and can even be fatal at high levels.
A type of radioactive gas that is formed and emitted naturally by the soil. It can enter indoors through cracks and openings in floors and walls that are in contact with the ground.
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall, causing approximately 20,000 lung cancer deaths every year.
Purchase a DIY radon test kit and test for radon in your home. If the test result indicates you should fix, call a qualified radon mitigation specialist.
These are gases or particles that come from burning materials in fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves, water heaters, and dryers. Common combustion pollutants include carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Both are colourless and odourless gases. CO causes headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue, and high levels can be fatal. On the other hand, NO2 causes eyes, nose and throat irritation, impairs lung function, and increases respiratory infections.
Take the precaution to properly ventilate rooms where fuel-burning appliances are used. To be extra careful, be sure to use appliances that vent to the outside whenever possible.
Molds are living things that grow on wet or damp carpet and in spaces with high-humidity levels. They can grow anywhere that has moisture in a house, producing and disseminating spores that cause sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rashes, as well as triggering asthma attacks.
The key to control the growth of mold is moisture control. If mold is a problem in your home, be sure to clean up the mold often and promptly.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Causes: Eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, and nausea.
VOCs originate mainly from solvents and chemicals found in paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, repellents, air fresheners, perfumes, and many other products used in the house.
The main health effect is the irritation of the eye, nose and throat. In more severe cases there may be headaches, nausea and loss of coordination. In the long term, some of the pollutants are suspected to damage to the liver and other parts of the body.
Before using household products, read and follow all directions and warnings for poisonous substances. Ensure your home is properly ventilated with plenty of fresh air and ventilation by the opening of windows, and using extra fans and air-purifier.
Indoor allergens are biological pollutants that are carried in through the air and found on furniture, floors, and other home surfaces around the house. Some even live in your bed sheets and sofa.
These include pollen from plants, dust mites, pet dander, fungi, parasites, and some bacteria. They can cause asthma, hay fever, and trigger other allergic attacks.
To reduce indoor allergens, make sure to always wash your bed sheets and clean your home surfaces.