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Poor Indoor Air Quality – Causes, Health Effects and Prevention

On an average, we inhale approximately 14,200 litres of air and drink around 2 litres of water per day. We certainly understand the health benefits of drinking clean, pure water, yet, most people do not realise the importance of good air quality, and having clean and pure air to breathe.

With climate control at the forefront of conversation, we seem to talk a lot about air quality on a global scale, but we forget, that air quality indoors is just as important, and fortunately, can be easier to control.  Whether its at home, at school, or at the office, almost every setting of our daily lives, we spend such a large amount of our time indoors.  And, with working from home the new normal, for many, this time is even greater.  

With poor indoor air quality being associated with health issues like asthma, allergies, fatigue, dry eyes, and a host of others that impact our daily lives in such a direct way, it is important to start talking about ways to better improve the air quality in our homes, and the other indoor spaces we spend such a large amount of our days in.

Assess the indoor air quality of your home regularly

Causes of Bad Indoor Air Quality

The bad quality of indoor air can be caused by a myriad of factors. Combustion-related activities make up a large part of these factors, and include things like smoking, heating, and cooking, activities that release particles and gasses as a result of a chemical process, and are probably the more obvious of factors.  However, other things you may not have considered can also affect indoor air quality.

  • Smoking

Smoking releases a number of substances into the environment which can adversely affect human health due to their toxic composition. It’s an obvious contributor to poor air quality, but one we sometimes forget affects the air around us, not just the air we breathe in via a cigarette.

  • Heating

Heating, or burning materials to produce heat, also produces a wide range of substances which can negatively affect the quality of air.

  • Garage Activities

Garage activities usually involve activities related to vehicles, or the indoor use of machines and appliances, which can also emit pollutants and dangerous substances.

  • Cooking

Cooking also produces pollutants. Some cooking methods, such as frying, can emit more substances than others, and cooking using gas without a range hood can also contribute to deteriorating air quality.

  • Use of Household Items

Common household items can release pollutants and substances through a process called off-gassing. Things like carpets, furniture, candles, air fresheners and cleaning products can all contribute to poor indoor air quality. Upholsteries like carpets, pillows, and foams also attract mites and other insects which can release allergens into the environment.

  • Personal Care Products

Using products such as perfumes and cosmetics releases chemicals into the air, particularly if they are emitted via aerosols.

  • Building Materials

Materials used in construction can also be a source of pollutants. Among the usual suspects are insulation, wood products, floor panels, paints, solvents, and varnishes.

  • Dampness and Water Leaks

Areas where there is stagnant concentration of water can be a place for biological pollutants like bacteria and fungi to grow. Humidity can also contribute to the growth of these organisms

  • Poor Ventilation

Factors such as the amount of fresh air in the building and the rate which contaminated air is expelled contribute to indoor air quality. 

Poor ventilation can contribute to poor indoor air quality

Effects of Poor Air Quality

Bad indoor air quality can cause a myriad of adverse effects to those exposed to it. This can cause problems that, while may not be life threatening, can certainly contribute to our well being, and our ability to function in our daily lives. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • An increase in the levels of carbon dioxide coupled with a decrease in the levels of oxygen could cause fatigue. These conditions can also affect the ability of people to concentrate.
  • A build-up of chemical and biological contaminants and pollutants can cause a number of problems like nausea, allergies, dizziness, and hypersensitivity.
  • Changing levels of humidity can cause a number of problems. Low levels of humidity may result in a feeling of dryness in the throat and the eyes, and itchiness. High levels, on the other hand, are ideal conditions for bacteria and moulds to grow. If left unchecked, these biological pollutants can cause sickness.  Low levels of ventilation are one of the most common

Maintaining Good Indoor Air Quality

While we can’t stop many of the factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality, particularly at home, we can do some things to help counteract the effects of these.

  • Temperature Control

Fluctuating temperatures can cause the growth of several biological pollutants. Keeping your temperatures constant and at appropriate levels can keep the levels of these pollutants checked.

  • Avoiding Harmful Activities and Substances

It is impossible to cease all activities we outlined above, but completing some of these outdoors wherever possible will help to reduce the accumulation of pollutants and particles indoors.

  • Cleaning

Regular cleaning of surfaces in areas where contaminants can settle can help reduce build up of pollutants in the air.  You may have heard of wiping down surfaces when using a gas heater or cooking appliance, for instance.  This can be applied to any areas where contaminants can settle.

  • Proper Ventilation

Low levels of ventilation is one of the most common contributors to inadequate levels of humidity and dampness.  It is important to keep your place properly ventilated. This ensures that contaminated air is taken out and regularly replaced with clean and fresh air.

Tools to ensure your home, or indoor space, is properly ventilated might include things like vents, exhaust systems, or dehumidifiers.  This might be on a larger scale when it comes to your home’s structural ventilation system, or it might be on a much simpler scale, such as adding a 3in1 light, heater and exhaust to your bathroom.

Add a 3in1 bathroom solution to improve indoor air quality

Check out the Tastic Vivid 3 in 1 Bathroom heater fan and light. With its improved airflow, the Tastic Vivid’s exhaust fan effortlessly removes steam from your bathroom environment, while the two 275W powerful heat lamps warm you when the chill sets in.

Don’t let poor indoor air quality affect your health, or affect you in ways that will directly impact your well being.  Call the experts at Rovert Lighting & Electrical to discuss adding ventilation systems to your home this season.

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