Last edited 23 Jan 2018

A Guide to Improving Indoor Air Quality

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You cannot see, but sometimes you can smell the indoor air pollution, that occurs from a variety of products, chemicals or even pets. Many of us spend most of our time indoors. The air that we breathe in our homes, in school and in offices contain some air pollutants that can affect our health adversely.

By learning about pollutants, it will be easier to control some of the common pollutants found in indoor places such as homes or offices. It will also help to improve your indoor air and reduce the health risks related to indoor air quality (IAQ).

Common Pollutants That You Must Know About:

1. Radon- Radon is an odourless, colourless, tasteless radioactive gas that is formed in the soil and is the second prime cause of lung cancer. This gas enters your home through cracks and breaks or holes in floors and walls in contact with the ground.

Measures to Prevent:

2. Secondhand smoke- Secondhand smoke is also named as environmental tobacco smoke. It is made up of 2 forms of smoke first is Burning tobacco or mainstream smoke which is exhaled by a smoker and secondly sidestream smoke that arises from the lighted end of a cigarette, cigar, pipe or tobacco. Secondhand smoke can lead to cancer or can cause severe respiratory illness.

Measures to prevent

  • Children are more vulnerable to secondhand smoke, to protect children from secondhand smoke do not let anyone smoke inside your home or car.

3. Combustion Pollutants- Combustion Pollutants are emitted from the burning of fuels. In homes, the significant source of combustion pollutants are improperly vented or unvented fuel-burning appliances including fireplaces, wood stoves, space heaters, water heaters, gas stoves and dryers.

The types and amounts of pollutants emitted depend on the kind of appliance, how well the device or appliance is installed, maintained and vented and the type of fuel it uses. Common combustion pollutants are Carbon monoxide causes dizziness, headaches, nausea and fatigue and Nitrogen dioxide that causes nose, eyes and throat irritation and increases respiratory infections.

Measures to Prevent

  • Use well-ventilated rooms for fuel-burning appliances.
  • Make sure that all fuel-burning appliances are installed, adjusted, used and maintained well.

4. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)- Volatile organic compounds evaporate at room temperature and are released by a different range of products used in homes such as paints and lacquers, paint strippers, pesticides, dry-cleaned clothing, air fresheners, cleaning supplies and much more.

Volatile Organic Compounds are extremely hazardous and can cause nose, eye, and throat irritation, nausea, headaches, and can even damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.

Measures to Prevent:

  • Make sure to read and follow all directions and warnings carefully on common household products.
  • Ensure that there should be plenty of fresh air and ventilation while painting, renovating or using other products that may release VOCs.
  • Never mix products unless it is instructed to do so on the label.
  • VOCs , evaporate into the air easily when chemically contained products are used or when they are stored. So store the products according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Keep all the products in a safe place, away from children.

5. Asthma triggers- Asthma triggers are usually detected in schools, homes, and offices and include dust mites, mould, pet dander and secondhand smoke. A home may have mould growing on pillows, blankets or stuffed animals, secondhand smoke in the air or cat and dog hairs on the carpet and floors.

Asthma triggers cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and breathing problems. Asthma attacks are severe and life-threatening. However, asthma can be cured with the right medicines and by eliminating asthma triggers.

Measures to Prevent:

  • Do not let anyone smoking inside your home or car.
  • Do the dusting and cleaning of your home daily.
  • Water leaks develop moulds, make sure to fix water leaks and clean moulds.
  • Wash sheets, blankets or covers every week in hot water.
  • Use anti-allergy mattress and pillow covers.
  • Keep pets off from soft furniture and out of the bedroom.