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Healthy Homes: What is Indoor Air Pollution?

By JDFerris | Homeowner Safety

May 29

Health Effects of Poor Air Quality; Symptoms of Heart Disease and Respiratory Diseases

Where indoor air quality is concerned, it is greatly important you come to an understanding of the different causes of indoor air pollution, what bad air quality symptoms to look for, the sources of indoor air pollution, as well as how to prevent or how to reduce indoor air pollution and other volatile organic compounds.

Indoor air quality problems can lead to a host of adverse health effects
Woman taking pills for her health

Common Symptoms of Respiratory Diseases

  • Sinus or lung congestion,
  • Chronic excessive mucus,
  • Persistent cough,
  • Wheezing and/or difficulty breathing,
  • Lingering chest pain,
  • Coughing blood

Common Symptoms of Heart Disease

  • Lingering chest pain
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Pressure or discomfort in your chest (also known as angina)
  • Pain in the throat, neck, or jaw
  • numbness, coldness, weakness or pain in the arms or legs
  • Shortness of breath or breathing problems

Health professionals are specifically worried about people with asthma. The number of individuals who have asthma has considerably increased in recent years. Whether this is due to increases in ambient outdoor and indoor air quality and pollution, specifically greenhouse gas types of outdoor air emissions, such as Co2 or carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or others over the years or not, it is definitely a situation you want to pay close attention to, especially if you are one of the millions of people affected by chronic asthma.

These harmful contaminants can travel through the air and are often impossible to see. Even a clean house might allow the development of toxic substances which could lead to trouble breathing or even lung disease in time. A lot of information about sources of indoor air pollution and the long term health problems it can cause is based on research studies of large workplace buildings and studies of houses in the northern U.S. and Canada.

What is Air Pollution; an Indoor Air Pollution Definition

Indoor air pollution refers to the chemical, organic, and also physical contamination of a home’s indoor air quality. Undeterred, it is also likely to cause adverse health problems and health effects. In developing countries, the primary source of indoor air pollution is biomass smoke, which contains suspended particulate matter (5 PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (Co), formaldehyde and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

an excess of carbon monoxide gas in your home is incredibly dangerous
Woman and man running out of a building, suffocating. Carbon monoxide poisonous gas cloud.

In addition to NO2, CO (Carbon Monoxide), and formaldehyde In industrialized countries, radon gas, asbestos, mercury, human-made mineral fibers, volatile organic compounds, allergens, tobacco smoke, bacteria, and viruses are the main contributors to indoor air pollution.

Studies show some individuals do not experience adverse health effects or breathing difficulty from certain indoor air pollutants, while others might experience one or more types of reactions. When this happens, it is important to remember to try to take deep breaths and stay as calm as you can.

Indoor Air Quality Testing and Air Quality Test Kits

If you are someone who has a lung condition such as lung cancer, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD as its called, or tend to experience more severe reactions to allergens present in household products, cleaning products, and other harmful substances that may be found inside a home, purchasing a home air quality test to get your air tested should be your first step in identifying whatever harmful chemicals might be present.

You can find all types of air quality testing kits, like air quality tests for mold, home air quality tests, as well as different volatile organic compound identification type tests, and tests that measure the level of indoor pollution in your home.

Causes of Indoor Air Pollution – the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

The burning of wood creates carbon monoxide as an exhaust gas
The burning of wood puts off lots of carbon monoxide into the surrounding environment, which, if in an enclosed area with no way to vent to the outside, can lead to death.

Carbon monoxide gas, or CO, is a toxic gas that you can not see or smell. CO is given off whenever fuel or other carbon-based products are burned. CO typically comes from sources in or near your house that are not appropriately preserved or vented.

You may be at increased risk of exposure to hazardous levels of Carbon Monoxide by:

  • utilizing inadequately preserved or unvented heating devices;
  • incorrectly vented gas home appliances like ranges or water heaters;
  • running vehicles in garages or other enclosed areas;
  • using a gas oven, grill, or stove to warm the house;
  • house or structure fires;
  • clogged up chimneys or obstructed gas stove exhaust vents;
  • cooking with a grill inside the home or other enclosure, whether charcoal or gas;
  • using a gas stove, heater, or light inside a tent or house; and
  • being near exhaust outlets.
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