Smog, power plants, and pollutants from vehicles and trucks are likely to come to mind when you think of air pollution. Those are examples of outdoor air pollution. In this chapter, we will discuss indoor pollution. Pollutants in the air are any harmful contaminants; consequently, indoor air pollution occurs when pollutants such as particles and gases pollute the air indoors. Interior air is significantly more polluted than outdoor air, so indoor air pollution is a severe and hazardous problem. Indoor air pollution is thought to be responsible for millions of fatalities each year. There are various indoor air pollution sources; however, they differ across developed and developing countries.
What is Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor Air Pollution means any air quality contamination within and around buildings and structures.
Some of the most common examples of indoor air pollutants are solvents, moulds, smoke, pesticides, gases, and pet dander. In most homes, there will be some level of indoor air pollution. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a measurement of how the air inside a structure influences the health and comfort of its residents. Due to the construction of increasingly energy-efficient homes in recent years, indoor air pollution has become a more significant matter. Because these structures are typically airtight, the air inside can quickly grow stagnant, causing pollution levels to rise rapidly.
Effects of indoor air pollution
There are several life-threatening effects of indoor air pollution. It is harmful to kids as well as old age persons. Some of the effects of indoor air pollution are:-
- If asbestos is detected in your home, it can lead to significant health issues like asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and cancers.
- Suppose impurities such as dust mites, animal dander, or other microorganisms get into the home. In that case, they can have catastrophic consequences such as Asthma symptoms, throat discomfort, the flu, and other infectious disorders.
- If lead is found in the house, it can be hazardous to your health. It can harm the brain and nerves, cause anaemia, kidney failure and a faulty cardiovascular system.
- The most frequent indoor air contaminant is formaldehyde, which can also be harmful to your health. You might face eye, throat and nasal irritation. The World Health Organisation has classified it as a recognised human carcinogen, and it has been linked to cancer in numerous cases.
- Individuals who smoke tobacco get severe pneumonia, respiratory irritation, bronchitis, heart disease, lung cancer and emphysema.
- Chemicals used in cleaning agents and paints, for example, can cause loss of coordination, brain, kidney damage, and liver disorders. It is also responsible for different types of cancer.
- The harmful carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide produced by gas/wood stoves and heaters in the home can cause respiratory problems.
- According to the US National Cancer Institute, radon in the home is the second greatest cause of lung cancer in the United States.
- Highly volatile & semi-volatile compounds in synthetic scents, perfumes, and deodorisers have been proven harmful, causing allergic reactions, central nervous system diseases, skin irritation, congenital disabilities, reproductive problems, and cancer.
Examples of Indoor pollutants
- Heaters and Cookstoves
- Lead (Pb)
- Carbon Monoxide
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Radon (Rn)
- Wood Smoke Indoor Particulate Matter Environmental Tobacco Smoke
- Volatile Organic Compounds
What are the indoor air pollution sources?
Asbestos: It can be found in rock and dirt. It has been used in a range of products, including insulation, construction materials, roofing shingles, fire retardant etc., due to its strength and heat resistance. It is also found in friction products for automobiles. Asbestos exposure can raise the risk of lung illness, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
Biological Pollutants: Contaminants created by living creatures are known as biological pollutants. As a result, they are frequently found in regions where there is an abundance of food or wetness. Bacteria, pet saliva, viruses, dust, pollen, and mites are examples of biological pollution. Excessive moisture, such as that found in humidifiers or an unvented bathroom, is a breeding environment for mould, mildew, and bacteria; hence these pollutants are usually found alongside it in buildings.
Carbon monoxide: When fossil fuels are burned, carbon monoxide (CO) is emitted as an odourless gas. Vehicles are the primary sources of CO outside, whereas gas heaters and kerosene lamps are the primary sources of CO indoors pollutants. If we inhale carbon mono-oxide in large amounts, it can cause an extremely harmful effect on the human body as it reduces the blood’s oxygen-carrying ability. It can result in dizziness, coma, and even premature death.
Formaldehyde: Many building materials & home goods contain formaldehyde. Resins for wood products, insulating materials, paints, glues, cosmetic preservatives, pesticides, etc., are popular uses. It is a chemical substance emitted from fuel-burning appliances because it is a combustion byproduct. Formaldehyde can cause cancer if exposed to it for long and at high doses. Shorter-term exposure has been linked to skin irritation, eyes, nose, and throat.
In the above topic, we have read about Indoor Air Pollution, effects of indoor air pollution, Indoor pollutants examples and indoor air pollution sources. When certain air pollutants, such as particles and gases, contaminate the air inside places, this is known as indoor air pollution. These contaminants in the air can cause respiratory illnesses and even cancer. The quality of your indoor air can be improved by removing air contaminants.