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How Poor Indoor Air Quality Can Affect Your Health

Last updated Oct. 05, 2018


The air you breathe sustains you: this is a well-known fact. Good quality air is among the most important things in life.

While many are conscious of the quality of the air they breathe outside, they normally care less when they get to their home.

This is generally due to a wrong assumption that the air is always better indoors than outdoors. Contrary to this notion, air pollution can be as much as five times worse indoors than outdoor.

This means that without the proper measures, the home can turn from a safe haven to a potentially harmful environment as far as breathing is concerned.

In this article, we are going to consider how indoor air quality can affect your health.


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Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality?

Before we delve right into the health implications of poor indoor air quality, it is important that we talk about the sources of indoor air pollution.

Strong cleaning products, strong chemical products like pesticides and paints, chemicals in furniture and finishes, tobacco products, personal care products like hairspray and perfume, second-hand smoke and smoke from furnace or stove, as well as harmful substances from building materials can all contribute to indoor air pollution.

To be honest, the list is actually not exhaustive. What we have mentioned above is just a handful of the common ways the indoor air quality can be compromised on a daily basis.

Some household appliances like the air conditioner and refrigerator can even release some gasses when they are being used. Excess moisture can also encourage mold growth that will contribute to air pollution and cause health challenges.


How Air Pollutants Affect Your Health?

The pollutants mentioned above affect your health in a number of different ways. While some health implications of these chemicals are immediate, some may take longer to manifest.

We will consider the negative impacts based on the immediate effects and the long-term effects.

There are instances where you can walk into a building and notice immediately that your nose will start feeling a little too stuffy.

It may become a little more difficult to breathe and you may experience coughing bouts. It is normally due to reduced air quality.

The way people react to pollutants in the air differs significantly. While some that are far more sensitive to the pollutants will react more quickly, some individuals are more tolerant and may take longer to react to the same concentration of pollutants that may trigger an immediate reaction in sensitive individuals.

If you have such health conditions as asthma or severe allergies, you will be more susceptible to the immediate health effects of poor indoor air quality.

Some of the symptoms of poor indoor air quality can also be easily mistaken for symptoms of other health problems like colds, allergies or influenza.

Some of the common symptoms you may feel immediately include irritation of eyes, nose, throat, and skin; a headache; coughing; sneezing; fatigue; dizziness; shortness of breath; hypersensitivity; and nasal congestion.

The symptoms mentioned above will easily disappear after you leave the environment and get some fresh air. They normally do not require treatment on most occasions unless you have an underlying condition like asthma.

If you experience these problems only when you are home or in any particular location, it can be a clear sign that your indoor air quality is really poor.


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Long-term Health Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality

As has been mentioned earlier, there are some health implications of poor indoor air quality that are not immediate but will affect you on the long run.

They may take years to surface but are often more dangerous than the ones that affect you immediately. This is the main reason you really need to be conscious of your indoor air quality.

Since the symptoms do not manifest early, you may feel there is no need to test and control your indoor air while it is actually exposing you too long-term health issues.

It also follows that when you are consistently exposed to indoor air pollutants, your body may get used to the immediate symptoms they cause and make you less sensitive to them.

This does not mean that you won’t suffer from the long-term damages they cause.

Some of the long-term problems are serious health conditions like heart problems and respiratory disease.

The particular problem you may encounter will depend on the particular pollutant you were consistently exposed to. There are certain air pollutants that can cause different types of cancers.

While certain individuals may be more susceptible to the long-term problems of indoor air pollution, everyone that is meaningfully exposed to pollutants stand a good chance of suffering these long-term consequences.

If you have pre-existing conditions like asthma, the consequences may be a little more serious.

Such problems as respiratory diseases and difficult or painful breathing; rapid heartbeat and heart disease; lethargy or malaise; anorexia; worsening asthma and lung cancer are notable consequences of poor indoor air quality.


Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Whether it is on the short-term or long-term level, the consequences of poor indoor air quality can be very severe. It is best when you take steps to improve your indoor air quality and prevent these potential health issues.

There are very simple things you can do to achieve this including testing for air quality.

When you ascertain your indoor air quality, you can implement such other measures as using air filters, choosing home cleaning products carefully, keeping chemicals and chemical products outside living areas, controlling moisture level in your indoor space, taking care of your pets, keeping your carpet clean, encouraging ventilation, as well as using indoor plants and air purifiers.

In the past, it was generally believed that the worst air quality conditions were outside due to such pollutants as car exhaust. With recent studies, it is clear that indoor air quality can be really terrible.

We have considered how your indoor air quality can cause immediate health challenges as well as long-term problems.

It is important that you also consider the few tips about improving indoor air quality given in the paragraph above. They will help you prevent several potential health problems.

If you have any further questions, contact us and we would be happy to help you.