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 preexisting medical conditions are two important influences. In other cases, whether a person reacts to a pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies tremendously from person to person. 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, so it is often 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 or go away when a person is away from home, for example, an effort should be made to identify indoor air sources that may be possible causes. Some effects may be made worse by an inadequate supply of outdoor air or from the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems within the home.
Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are mild or barely noticeable.
Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases, so it is often difficult to determine if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air pollution. 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 check what is going on can be helpful in determining 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
Make clean air in your home your goal by simply 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 and ensure anything that is wet is completely dried out within 24 hours – 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 externally (in the case of gas stoves, use the extractor fan, and make sure that this is flued externally)
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