Indoor Air Pollution and Health
Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later.
Immediate effects may show up after a single exposure or repeated exposures. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable.
Sometimes the treatment is simply eliminating the person's exposure to the source of the pollution, if it can be identified.
The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors. Age and pre-existing medical conditions are two important influences. In other cases, individual sensitivity determines whether a person reacts to a pollutant. Some people can become sensitised to biological pollutants and to chemical pollutants as well.
Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases. This can make it difficult to determine if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air pollution. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to the time and place symptoms occur.
If the symptoms fade when a person is away from home, an effort should be made to identify possible sources. Some effects may be made worse by an inadequate supply of fresh air. Fresh air can come from outside, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems within the home.
Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is so important to improve the indoor air quality in your home. This is the still the case even if symptoms are mild or barely noticeable.
While pollutants commonly found in indoor air are responsible for many harmful effects, there is considerable uncertainty about what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary to produce specific health problems. People also react very differently to exposure to indoor air pollutants.
This is where getting a professional in to assess the situation can be helpful. It is important to determine the cause and what actions can be taken to remedy the situation.
10 Steps You Can Take To Improve The Indoor Air Quality of Your Home
Clean the air in your home your goal by both keeping outdoor pollution out and also by increasing the ventilation within your home by ensuring a thorough exchange the air on a daily basis.
- Make your home a shoe-free zone
- Ensure your home is smoke-free
- If you have a leaks, drips or water damage, attend to it immediately. Anything that is wet must be completely dried out within 24 hours – if not, mould remediators may be required
- Keep food in sealed containers – jars, tins – whether they be in the pantry or the fridge
- Dispose of rubbish, recycling and compost every single day
- Do the laundry regularly
- Avoid idling your car in the driveway or garage
- Close the windows during peak-hour traffic
- Avoid using anything that is scented, particularly scented candles, reeds and air fresheners
- If you have gas appliances, be sure that they are flued and vented to the exterior. If you have a gas stove, use an externally vented extractor fan.