According to the Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA), Americans spend 93% of their life indoors, with 87% being actually inside a residential or commercial building and 7% of their life being inside a car.
While this isn’t surprising, as, for many of us, particularly in Florida, the weather can be hard to handle, this amount of time spent indoors does raise a pressing concern about air quality. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) concerns the health and air quality of the interior of buildings, as well as the effects of indoor air quality on our physical health.
Here are some concerning statistics on IAQ:
Since the 1970s, homes have been built differently. They’ve been constructed to be tighter and more energy efficient, and, while that saves your wallet from taking a hit, that does mean that the air indoors is more confined and cloistered; thus, making it more susceptible to pollutants.
When we think of pollution, we probably envision of a picture of smog-covered cities such as Beijing or Mexico City. However, indoor pollution can be up to two to five times worse than outdoor air. In some cases, that rating can go up to one-hundred times, depending on the building in question.
There has been a lot of litigation on the topic. Pollutants such as asbestos have been among the most common toxic chemicals. Asbestos, which consists of microscopic fibrous materials that damage the lungs and can cause cancer, gave rise to some of the largest class action lawsuits in American history. But, indoor pollutants aren’t just relegated to the ones that grab our attention in the headlines.
Here are some of the most common indoor air pollutants:
- Biological Pollutants
Bacteria, cat and dog dander, pollens, and mold are just some of the many examples of biological pollutants that contaminate our air and seriously damage our health. Dirty central air vents can also transmit these pollutants into our home, causing allergic symptoms and asthma.
- Indoor Cleaning Supplies
We all love a clean house, but that can lead to the spread of formaldehyde throughout our home. Formaldehyde is a chemical present in a lot of our cleaning supplies and can cause irritation of nose, eyes, and skin. In some extreme cases, it can even lead to cancer.
- Secondhand smoke
Smoking, obviously, is bad for the person doing it. But it’s also dangerous for people who are exposed to the secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes over 7,300 deaths per year due to lung cancer and nearly 34,000 deaths each year due to heart disease. Data collected by cancer research organization shows that 2.5 million people have died from secondhand smoke between 1964 and 2014.
- Nitrogen Dioxide
Out of all the pollutants on this list, Nitrogen Dioxide might be the least-recognized one. Nitrogen Dioxide is generated by unvented appliances such as gas stoves or appliances that are installed incorrectly. Nitrogen Dioxide also comes from tobacco smoke and kerosene heaters. It irritates the nose, eyes, and respiratory tracts and is a very unstable chemical compound.
- Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is among the deadliest of all of the pollutants. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. Unvented kerosene and gas heaters can cause it to flow through your home. Other causes include back drafts from heaters or other gas powered equipment. If left unchecked this carbon monoxide leak can cause death.
These pollutants are just some of the many ways that your air can become contaminated. Having a clean air system that ventilates your home properly and provides clean air can help reduce your risk of coming into contact with these dangerous irritants.