Rachel Nedialkov - 03 June 2021

The Major Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

Air pollution has long been a known health concern, with its importance being amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Poor air quality aggravates and causes many illnesses that predispose many individuals to a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, such as lung cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Recent research by Harvard has determined that air pollution also significantly elevates the risks of any individual falling susceptible to deadly effects of COVID-19, regardless of pre-existing conditions, presenting an even more pressing need for increased measures to combat air pollution.

Besides the pandemic, air pollution is a concern for an individual’s overall wellbeing and health. In the short term, poor air quality can lead to side effects such as headaches, nausea, irritation to the throat and eyes, and illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the long-term, the harmful side-effects compound to develop severe complications that can even lead to premature death. For example, the World Health Organization reports that indoor air pollution causes 36% of deaths from lung cancer and other non-respiratory diseases, such as 34% of deaths from stroke and 27% of deaths from heart disease. In addition, long-term exposure to air pollution can cause other long-term damage to one’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.

Due to the nature of its invisible presence, individuals are often unaware of the risks and causation of poor air quality. The WHO reports that an estimated 7 million people die worldwide each year from the effects of air pollution, representing the sheer scale of this under-addressed issue. In a more positive light, this presents the possibility to mitigate and reduce these cases if given adequate efforts to implement preventative measures.Indoor air quality in the workplace and household is more toxic indoors than outdoors due to the greater concentration and lack of air circulation. Toxins such as mold, volatile organic compounds, asbestos, and formaldehyde are often overlooked and remain stagnant in spaces where one is susceptible to continuous exposure to these significant pollutants and culprits of health implications. 

To reduce such toxins and improve air quality, the following major causes of air pollution must be addressed:

1. Artificial Cleaning Products

Any household or office cleaning products composed of chemicals and fragrances contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can react with already present compounds and form new chemicals, creating harmful toxins being regularly inhaled.

2. Fuel Burning Machines

These appliances include unassuming space heaters, water heaters, and even gas or electric cooking appliances that can emit hazardous particles of formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and other VOCs.

3. Office Machines

Whether in a home office or within the workplace, office machinery such as copiers, laser printers, and even stationery can release ultra-fine pollutant particles and VOCs when in use. Although most printers and copiers produce particulates at levels that are at or under recommended exposure levels, contact over a prolonged period of time can inflict long-term health effects.

4. Furnishings & Decor

Furniture and decorative pieces composed of hard-pressed wood or plastics, and floorings such as vinyl, laminate, or carpets. These ever-present instalments may not be cleaned or replaced often and can be constructed with hazardous materials that emit benzene, ethylene glycol, and other gaseous chemicals.

5. Inadequate Ventilation Systems

HVAC and unit ventilation systems that are not routinely serviced and cleaned. In addition, many HVAC systems do not meet ASHRAE guidelines of air circulation rates, control methods, and capacities to capture large contaminants, leading to the recirculation of irritants and pollutants.

To address these and many more causes of air pollution, air technologies such as Blade Air’s offerings of UV-C in-duct solutions and HEPA filters capture contaminants and harmful emissions. With the implementation of simple air quality controls, significant reductions in severe health complications will contribute towards a safer and healthier future for all. To learn more about how to take action against air pollution and its severe implications, visit Blade Air - Our Filters.