Last edited 31 May 2019

How to to improve indoor air quality

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Contents

[edit] Introduction

You cannot see, but sometimes you can smell the indoor air pollution that is emitted by a variety of products, chemicals, cooking and even pets. Many of us spend most of our time indoors, and the air that we breathe in our homes, in school and at work can contain pollutants that affect our health.

For more information see: Indoor air quality.

[edit] Common pollutants

[edit] Radon

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

Measures to prevent:

For more information see: Radon.

[edit] Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke is environmental tobacco smoke which can lead to cancer or respiratory illness. It is made up of two forms of smoke:

  • Burning tobacco or mainstream smoke which is exhaled by a smoker.
  • Sidestream smoke that arises from the lighted end of a cigarette, cigar, pipe or tobacco.

Measures to prevent:

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

[edit] 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-burning stoves, space heaters, water heaters, gas stoves and so on.

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, which causes dizziness, headaches, nausea and fatigue, and nitrogen dioxide, which causes nose, eyes and throat irritation and can exacerbate respiratory problems.

Measures to prevent:

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

For more information see: Carbon monoxide.

[edit] Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds evaporate at room temperature and are released by a range of products such as paints and lacquers, paint strippers, pesticides, dry-cleaned clothing, air fresheners and cleaning supplies. They are potentially 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:

For more information see: Volatile organic compounds.

[edit] Asthma triggers

Asthma triggers can be detected in schools, homes, and offices and include dust mites, mould, pet dander and secondhand smoke.

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

Measures to prevent:

  • Do not let anyone smoke inside your home or car.
  • Dust and clean daily.
  • Fix water leaks and clean moulds.
  • Wash sheets, blankets or covers every week in hot water.
  • Use anti-allergy mattresses and pillow covers.
  • Keep pets off soft furniture and out of the bedroom.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.