Nowadays, we stay approximately 90% of our time indoors. Therefore, it is obvious that Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has an impact on our health. Some effects are detected immediately, some possibly years later.
Well, we tell you more about it.*
There are different kinds of potential dangerous substances in the air.
Gases (Radon, VOCs, CO, NO2, etc.)
Particle pollution (inhalable particles)
There are many different gases which can affect many different aspects of your health:
VOCs. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can be caused by cleaning supplies, lacquers, paints, air-fresheners, furnishings, building materials etc.
VOCs can irritate eyes/nose/throat/skin, affect breathing, cause headaches or asthma and damage your lung, liver or kidney. Some may cause cancer (benzene can cause leukemia).
Radon. A colorless and odorless radioactive gas which is sourced by the earth's ground. It enters buildings through cracks and its concentration in air depends heavily where you live on the planet (e.g. if there is a higher uranium concentration in the ground). The Radon concentration in the basement and lower level floors is higher than above.
Radon is on second place (after smoking) of the substances which causes lung cancer. It causes about 10% of all lung cancer cases.
CO, NO2. Carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are colorless and odorless gases which can be caused by fireplaces, gas/wood stoves and burning fuel.
CO interferes with the delivery of oxygen throughout the body. CO could cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and even death.
NO2 could aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma.
O3. Ozone is a colorless and odorless gas. It can emitted e.g. by laser printers or in hot sunny days it enters our rooms from outside.
Ozone makes it difficult for us to breath, could cause coughing and even makes the lungs more susceptible to infections.
Pesticides. Pesticides for household use which are classed as semivolatile organic compounds include a variety of chemicals.
Pesticides may cause headache, dizziness and nausea.
Dust and particle pollution
Dust with particles smaller than 10 micrometers (also known as particulate matters PM10 or PM2.5) are inhalable and can enter your lung. These particles may be even toxic and will affect your health. We see the following pollutants under this category of dust and particles pollution:
Second hand smoke. It is caused by burning tobacco and can lead to lung cancer.
Combustion pollutants. Particles caused by burning materials from fireplaces. These kind of pollutants may lead to a respiratory impact.
Dust mites are present in pillows, blankets and stuffed animals of your kids. The metabolic products of dust mites can lead to allergic reactions like chronic coughing, irritated eyes/skin and may trigger asthma.
Hairs from cats or dogs could potentially trigger asthma and lead to allergic reactions (eyes, skin, etc.).
Mold produces spores. They float in the air and once landed, they may start growing and release spores itself. Mold is primarily present in kitchens and bathrooms.
Inhaling or touching molds can cause irritated eyes/throat/skin and may lead to chronic bronchitis or asthma.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber which was primarily used as insulation material in building construction. Here in Switzerland, asbestos was generally forbidden in 1990.
Already small amounts of asbestos can cause serious health issues and may lead to lung cancer.
How can you determine how healthy your indoor air is?
As the famous Paracelsus (form the very same village where I live: Einsiedeln, Switzerland ) already said in the 16th century: the quantity makes the poison. Therefore, it is essential to know how much of each dangerous substance is in the air of your home or your workplace. In other words: it is possible to measure how healthy your indoor air is.
Gases (Radon, VOCs, CO, NO2, etc.):
Measure and knowing the concentration of VOCs and CO2 helps you minimize the risk.
There is also the possibility to measure CO, NO2 and O3 in your home, at places where you expect higher values than normal (e.g. near fire places or printers).
Radon has to be measured with special equipment. It is worth testing it when you live below the 3rd floor.
Particle pollution (inhalable particles)
Clean your pillows, blankets and stuffed animals of your kids regularly.
Prevent dust mites in your home with a low indoor air humidity.
A low humidity prevents mold from growing (30-50% relative humidity).
There are possibilities to measure your indoor air quality and there are the plenty of different measures you can take to improve. But this is a topic of another blog episode.
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*Liability disclaimer: although we continuously research for the latest empirical data, we do not claim our list on hazardous substances as complete nor do we claim the mentioned affects and consequences on your health as concluded.
All of the information provided on this website is provided "AS-IS" and with no warranties.