Page 11 - Fall 2011

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“Indoor Air Pollution: What’s in the air you breathe and how it
can affect your health”
by Sara Lewis
Many are surprised to discover that indoor air pollution is actually a greater threat
to our lungs and overall health than outdoor air pollution. But it is indeed fact. We
spend approximately 90% of our time indoors, and factors such as poor
ventilation, household cleaning and beauty products, as well as radon,
pesticides, and furnishings can all be
contributors in polluting the air we
breathe indoors.
Indoor air has a higher concentration
of gases and particles in comparison
to outdoor air, mainly due to
inadequate ventilation and higher
temperature and humidity levels.
Unfortunately, homes that are built to
be “greener” (i.e. with the intent of
minimizing air leakage), will therefore
have especially poor ventilation.
Some of the pollutants that affect us
indoors include tobacco smoke,
household chemicals, pesticides,
biological contaminants such as
and pollen, gases such as radon
carbon monoxide, and building
materials such as asbestos,
formaldehyde and lead.
re to
ersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier
If not enough outdoor air enters a
home, these pollutants can build to
levels that pose a threat to inhabitants’ health and comfort. Immediate effects
may result from a single exposure or multiple exposures. These can include
irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. These
types of effects are usually temporary and treatable. Sometimes the treatment is
simply to remove the pollutant from the home, if the pollutant can be identified.
Otherwise, other types of diseases may show up after a longer-term exposu
the pollutants, including asthma, hyp