Indoor Pollution And Its Impact On Health
How To Fight Indoor Pollution?
How important is indoor pollution to our health? Well, much more than many people think. Right now, that we have become aware of the dangers posed by outdoor pollution and that every day there are more restrictions on the use of cars or fossil fuels, people have realized the real problem of pollution. However, it is not so common that it is known that, in cities, buildings are the main emitters of pollutants into the air.
If what we produce in our homes and workplaces means the greatest number of pollutants we throw into the air in our cities, wouldn’t closed places also be a source of pollution? Without a doubt. It is very common to ignore the quality of the air we breathe indoors, but most respiratory problems occur from letting our interiors become polluted.
Cooking without opening the windows, using chemicals in cleaning without taking into account whether you are ventilating, using sprays or simply leaving a build-up of dust are phenomena that can cause us to end up breathing stale air, and that is a major problem for our health.
Some data to consider in order to understand the dangerousness of indoor pollution are the following:
- More than 3 billion people worldwide heat their homes and cook indoors with combustion solutions. For example, these are wood stoves or coal stoves, among other solutions.
- More than four million people die prematurely each year due to illnesses that are attributed to indoor pollution and stale air, which appears due to the use of fuels for cooking.
- Of all children under five years of age who die from pneumonia, more than half do so because they have inhaled particles of contaminated air at home.
These serious consequences are usually caused by small particles – which today we call PM2.5 – and other pollutants that also inflame the airways and lungs. Continued exposure to this smoke reduces our body’s ability to oxygenate our blood, and also greatly weakens our immune system.
Breathing poor quality indoor air, coupled with a poor diet, smoking or lack of physical exercise, can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory problems. The World Health Organization itself strongly recommends that in homes around the world the use of cooking fuels or air conditioning should be avoided, but also that energy consumption should be curbed. In any house, even if fuel is not used, it is possible that a mass of stale air or high humidity is generated that ends up affecting people’s health.
The health risks derived from indoor pollution are notable and we have already discussed them. Therefore, it is important to fight them at home to avoid health problems. How can we do it?
The most efficient way is to ventilate the rooms. And, to achieve the best results, it is best to use mechanical ventilation systems. But in those homes where there is no ventilation mechanism available -more than two thirds of the buildings in Spain are more than 30 years- we can also opt for the following:
- Opening the windows. It is considered that in order to air a room it is not necessary to do so for more than ten to 15 minutes, but it is important that the air runs for as long as possible.
- Use bathroom extractors in the toilets, at least during the times when the light is on. They are economical and very easy to install.
- When cooking, use the extractor hood ten minutes before cooking and another ten minutes after, as well as during the whole process.
- Every time we clean the house or cook, it is ideal to open the windows a quarter of an hour before and leave them until at least ten minutes after finishing.
- We can get a dehumidifier to eliminate the excesses if we live in coastal areas.
- The use of fans can also help us, especially if they are pointed at the windows to extract air.
- Be aware of bad smells, they are an indication that something is not working in the air of the house.
The best solution will always be the installation of a mechanical ventilation system, among which those with double flow stand out. These are capable of extracting the air automatically The best solution will always be the installation of a mechanical ventilation system, among which we highlight the double flow. These are capable of extracting the air automatically and pushing renewed and previously filtered air.