How Good Is Your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) - Part 1

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We have been shared with facts and figures on how our world is polluted and how it's affects us in every facets of our life. Weather channel's flash pollution statistics with the visual of our city filled with smoke and fog. Startled by this and thinking hard how safe is the air outside?

Food for thought: Do you know how safe is the air inside your home? at your office? at shopping malls? at movie theaters? Or at your kids school? 

Lets alter our perception. Indoor air is more polluted than the air outside! Yes, you heard me right! Sometime up to two to five times higher than the air outside and occasionally more than 100 time higher than outdoor levels. That's a lot. US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) says that on average, Americans spend 90% of their time Indoor and it shouldn't be of much different to urban and semi-urban Indians. 

View of the city

Source of Indoor Pollutants

According to EPA, sources of Indoor air pollution may include: combustion sources; building materials and furnishings; household cleaning, maintenance and personal care or hobby products; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides; lead-based paints; tobacco smoke, log and wood smoke; asbestos and outdoor pollution. 

Is our indoor air polluted?

Health effects from these indoor pollutants can be experienced immediately after exposure or, possible, after few years. Certain health effects are similar to that of cold or viral disease and due to this it's often difficult to find out if it was caused by the indoor pollution. If the symptoms go away when a person is away from home and returns when the person come back to the home, that's the clue for you to find the cause of the indoor air pollution and rectify it.

3 strategy

Three Basic strategy

US EPA recommends three basic strategy for controlling the air pollution at our homes.

01. Source Control

The most effective way to improve the indoor air quality is finding the source of air pollution and eliminating the source or reducing the emission. This method is the most effective solution in controlling the air pollution at our homes.

02. Ventilation Improvement

Ventilation! Yes! you heard me. Open your windows and doors and increase the outdoor air coming to your home when the outdoor environment lets you . Bathroom and kitchen fans remove the odor and contaminants in that particular room and also increases the outdoor ventilation. So install them and use them. If your outdoor air quality is poor due to vehicle exhaust, ventilation cannot be effective unless it's accompanied by filtration and air cleaning.

03. Air Cleaners

There are many types of air-cleaners available in the market ranging from the table-top to whole-house systems. Table-top air cleaners are highly effective in reducing the particle in the air whereas can not effectively remove pollutants from strong nearby sources. A study conducted by NASA in 1989 suggest that indoor plants are helpful in removing the organic chemicals from our homes. The plant removes indoor air pollution either directly through their leaves or indirectly through the root/soil pathway. 

Air pollutants in our homes

Radon(Rn), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Organic Gases, Formaldehyde, Pesticides, Asbestos, Lead (Pb),  Benzene (C6H6), Trichloroethylene (C2HCl3) are the major pollutants that can be found in our homes.

We'll discuss the sources of the chemicals, their health effects and their acceptable levels in our home and how to safeguard your family from this pollution in our next post.