Every person spends a substantial part of their lives indoors. Regardless of the weather outside or the climate control systems within, you will feel the effects of poor indoor air quality caused by the lack of fresh air and the presence of pollutants. Poor indoor air quality can seriously damage a person’s health, and is especially detrimental to the most vulnerable category of the population, namely, the sick, elderly, and children.
The effects of poor air quality
Poor indoor air quality can affect your health in different ways, and can range from short-term effects such as eye irritation and sore throat to long-term issues such as respiratory diseases and even cancer. Asthma and allergies are highly sensitive to air quality so having a poor quality environment indoors can heighten the risk of developing these issues or, aggravate the symptoms in those who already suffer from these conditions.
Coughing, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, dizziness, headaches, congestion, fatigue and asthma are some of the signs to look out for when one is exposed to poor indoor air quality for extended periods of time. If leaving the room alleviates these symptoms, you can be sure indoor air quality is the problem.
Exposure to air pollutants
Any home or office will be exposed to air pollutants; however, it is important to be aware of the presence of hazardous substances or allergens. Cleaning products, for instance can impact the quality of air indoors. Construction sites around the house or office will cause fine dust to permeate your environment, significantly affecting air quality. Once these pollutants enter your space, they will find a way to enter your system through your nose, mouth or skin.
How to control your indoor air quality
While it may be difficult to stop the accumulation of fumes and dust indoors, both of which largely impact the air quality, there are a few things one can do to improve the overall air quality.
Avoid smoking indoors – the smoke from cigarettes and cigars is absorbed into furniture, blinds, comforters and even the carpet and rugs. It also means proximity to these surfaces or physical contact can expose you to the pollutants.
Make dusting a regular part of your chores. Though a tedious task, dusting is a necessary component of keeping a clean house, and ensuring air quality is kept up to scratch. Dust also settles on furniture, in carpets, on ceiling fans, and even on skirting boards. People with allergies will be the first ones to tell you that dust has an enormous effect on the quality of the air. In fact, many people with allergies and dust sensitivity will probably be able to walk into a home and within seconds, feel the dusty environment.
Turn off the car
Switch off the engine of your car even if you are stepping out for a few seconds. A running engine emits noxious fumes, which will enter your home. These fumes can be extremely toxic and even deadly.
Beware of mould
Mould can develop in any damp area of the home. Bathrooms are a major risk area, for instance. Mould can aggravate asthma and cause irritation of the nasal passages. Using anti-mould products coupled with wiping down surfaces properly can arrest the development of mould. Remember to always open windows and/or doors when using anti-mould products.
Watch out for combustion products
Fireplaces, a charming addition to any home, can actually have a huge impact on the indoor air quality by letting in ash, smoke and soot particles. Additionally, heaters burning wood, coal, gas or kerosene; gas cooking appliances; and hobbies such as welding and soldering can cause combustion particles to enter the home. Top tips include ensuring adequate ventilation when using a heater or stove, keeping the chimney clear and clean, tightly sealing doors so no exhaust fumes can enter the home, and servicing appliances regularly.
Beware when renovating
Renovations, especially in older buildings, can potentially cause exposure to lead from old paint, old fittings and old electrical cabling. The problem arises when small particles or fumes are swallowed or inhaled. Most of the time, contact with lead particles occurs when renovating, for example, stripping old paint. Always seek advice if concerned before proceeding with renovations.
Duration of exposure
When it comes to poor air quality, it’s not just the amount of pollutants one is exposed to that has the greatest impact. The duration of the exposure is also hugely important. Low level exposure over a number of years can be just as bad as immediate exposure to large quantities.
Improve the airflow
Mould, dust and allergens can accumulate in the home, especially with air conditioning. Good design combined with the installation of screens will help alleviate some of these problems by flushing out stale air and drawing in fresh air. Security screens are available if you need the extra protection.
Having the right screens on your doors and windows will greatly improve the airflow in your home, and limit the entry of pollutants in your personal space indoors.
If you want to breathe easier indoors, talk to the experts at Artilux Australia about your screening needs.