For many people, air pollution is an outside thing—think exhaust spewing from cars or factory chimneys belching smoke—not something that happens inside our ordered, cozy homes. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the surprising truth is the air inside our homes might be up to five times more polluted than the air outside.
Combine that with research that suggests people spend roughly 90 percent of their time indoors and you have a perfect storm of why air pollution can lead to significant health conditions. In 2014, a World Health Organization (WHO) report stated air pollution had become the world’s single biggest environmental health risk, linked to around 7 million deaths in 2012.
Indoor air pollution
The issue is even more insidious because you can’t see air pollution with the naked eye—a lack of smog is no indication of purity. And despite all our attempts to keep our indoor spaces tidy, ultimately it takes more than cleanliness to improve indoor air quality.
In the last decade, a growing body of research confirms that even in the largest and most industrialized cities, the pollution in the home can far exceed what’s outside it.
Curious about the main causes of indoor air pollution?
Carcinogens such as radon and formaldehyde, as well as impurities such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, plus a variety of particulate matter, created when we burn candles or cook are all major contributing factors.
The changing seasons can be a contributing influence as well. In winter and colder months, when windows stay closed, hampering ventilation, indoor air pollution levels can soar. The lack of ventilation increases indoor pollutant levels because there’s no outdoor air to dilute indoor emissions, nor do indoor air pollutants have the chance to be carried out of the home.
Tomorrow I will share about some of the most common indoor air quality pollutants.
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