BY KHRYSTYNA KICH: Indoor Air Pollution Worse Than Outdoor

Air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting every one of us. When we think about air pollution, we usually think about smog, deforestation and emissions from industrial factories and cars. The fact is, the air in our homes can be five times more polluted than the air you breathe outdoors. According to recent findings, over 4 million people every single year die prematurely from illness attributable to indoor air pollution.

The effects of air pollution on our health are very complex as there are many different pollutants and their effects can vary from one to the other. Most common indoor air pollutants are:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Radon
  • Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Biological Contaminates (dust, pollen, pet dander, mold)
  • VOCs (e.g. Formaldehyde)
  • Lead particles (mainly coming from old lead-based paint in buildings built before 1980)
  • Ozone
  • Mold

There are some basic ways to remove and prevent indoor air pollution. The most effective way to improve air quality inside your home is to control individual sources of pollution. Some very harmful pollutants may come from faulty appliances emissions, such as a stove or furnace. It is important to maintain your equipment regularly to ensure that everything works in an efficient way. Smoking is bad in any way, but smoking indoors is even worse. If for some reason you can’t give up smoking, than you should definitely avoid smoking indoors and don’t allow anybody else to do that inside your home.

Keeping your house clean is an essential way to reduce the amount of pollutants. Vacuum cleaners are one of the most helpful tools to do this. The biggest issues that appear when using vacuum cleaners is dust circulation. Not all fine particulates end up in the vacuum filter, as a result they are blown to the air and can get directly to your lungs. So make sure your vacuum cleaner is equipped with good filter system, such as water filtration, HEPA filtration or what is better solution use a central vacuum system. Water filter or HEPA filter vacuum cleaner will not protect you from PM2.5 or smaller, but it can remove up to 90 percent of other harmful particles from the air, such as dust mites, pollen and pet dander. Don’t forget to vacuum walls and furniture, where dust also accumulates. The regular mopping of floors ensures that no dirt or fine dust is left behind vacuuming. There is a wide range of modern microfiber mops and dust cloths that reportedly capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers.

Ventilating your house when the weather permits or using air conditioner with appropriate filter systems is important to improve indoor air quality.  Use exhaust hoods or fans in the kitchen and bathroom while cooking, doing laundry or bathing, it will reduce the humidity level. To avoid mold growth keep the humidity at a good level, that is between 30 percent and 50%.

There are a lot of alternative indoor air cleaners you can use. First of all, houseplants help to clean and filter the air naturally and inexpensively. The most effective air-cleaning plants include English Ivy, Bamboo Palm, Snake Plant, Spider Plant and other. One more alternative is beeswax candles, which are not only safe, but have the added benefit of purifying indoor air by releasing negative ions into the air. These negative ions are then able to bind with the positively charged particles like toxins, dust or odors, creating much heavier molecules which are no longer able to float in the air and simply fall to the floor where they can be cleaned more easily. Salt lamps are another natural way to clean indoor air. They are made from salt crystals and work similar to beeswax candles, they release negative ions which help to clean air inside the room. Bamboo Charcoal has the ability to adsorb moisture and pollutant particles from air, that is why it is another air purifier alternative. Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifier Bags are effective in odor control and the removal of some harmful atmospheric gases.

We can also improve indoor air quality using air purifiers that come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. What is more important, different types of air cleaners employ different technologies for purifying the air. Currently, the following five types of air purifiers are the most popular.

  1. HEPA Technology Air Purifiers. HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air and it is one of the most commonly used technologies to filter fine particles. HEPA filters use couple separate components to trap the tiniest air pollutants, as a result almost 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns are removed from the air. This technology purifiers are considered to be the best option on the market, however they do not remove odors and gases. For this reason, most HEPA air cleaners have some level of activated carbon based material to absorb odors and chemicals not trapped by HEPA filter.
  2. Carbon Filtration Technology. This technology uses activated carbon filters which are comprised of many molecular sized pores that have high absorbent ability. These properties make them a very effective tool for capturing pollutants such as chemical emissions, gases, tobacco smoke and odors. Despite their high effectiveness, this type of air cleaners is best used in conjunction with HEPA units. When used together, they are extremely efficient at trapping and removing dust, mold spores, pet dander, smoke, VOCs and common household chemicals.
  3. UV Technology. UV Technology is often combined with HEPA and activated carbon air filtering systems as it does not remove  fine particulates, cigarette smoke or gases from the air. This technology uses UV light to destroy microorganisms that may be posing a risk to your health and it is an excellent method to kill a greater number of bacteria and viruses.
  4. Ionic Air Purifiers. These machines use an ion generator that works by sending out a steady source of negatively charged ions. They, in turn, attract allergen particles and airborne dust with a positive charge. However the particles do not always end up in the air cleaner and after being “charged”, they can attach on your carpet, furniture and other surfaces. As a result, the air in the room might fell better, but it will still affect badly those who are close to the floor, like pets and small children.
  5. Ozone Air Purifiers. Ozone air purifiers work essentially by pumping ozone into the home’s air.  There has been a lot of discussion about ozone air purifiers and whether or not having one is a good idea. Ozone Air purifiers have been marketed heavily as great devices to install in your home to “cleanse” your air, however, as we all know, advertisements can be deceptive. Generally, people think of ozone as beneficial to humans. It is true that the ozone layer protects us from the sun’s harmful rays. However, that occurs high up in the atmosphere. People are not naturally exposed to ozone down on the surface. When ozone is emitted where people can breathe it, it can be very detrimental to a person’s health. This is especially the case for people who have breathing problems such as asthma and emphysema. The FDA has even warned against using these devices near children.
3 replies
  1. sarah1987
    sarah1987 says:

    Did you know that air fresheners, perfumes, hair products (especially hair spray), nail polishes, fabric softeners and cleaning products are also bad for indoor air? And they can also contain VOCs, which are extremely dangerous to our health.

    Reply

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