Indoor air quality is bad
“Air is weird, volatile and often unpredictable, just like the weather. But unlike bad weather, you can’t just go inside to escape polluted air. In actual fact, indoor air quality can be much worse than the air quality of some of the most industrialised cities. Obviously, standing behind a bus at a busy traffic intersection isn’t great for your well being. Likewise, standing in lovely pinewood forest will do wonders for your health. But unless you are a lumberjack, how many hours a day do actually spend in a pine wood forest? My guess is not very many.
On the other hand, we spend 90% of our lives inside. Pretty bad news when you consider that indoor air quality is two to five times more toxic than outdoor air quality, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The World Health Organisation estimate that 3% of global disease is caused from indoor air pollution. So where do all these harmful chemicals come from?
Radon in your home
Despite its super awesome name, Radon, it’s still very bad for you. Between 15,000-30,000 lung cancer deaths a year are the result of Radon exposure. This odorless gas can seep out of a house's’ foundation or building materials, like a silent but deadly fart. Not something you want in your living space, but which likely has higher levels inside your home than outside.
Smoke in your home
Are you a smoker? Live with a smoker? Lived with a smoker? Well you don’t need me to tell you how damaging that can be. Honestly, you are probably bored of hearing that smoking kills. It does kill, nearly 6 million people a year. But you don’t care because smoking is cool and having some random person dictate your life is unfair. You are welcome to do what you like, but please don’t do it inside. Second hand smoke kills 600,000 people a year. That’s 600,000 friends and family members that died because they hung out with you smokers.
That, my friends, is unfair.
Biologicals in your home
Although this sounds like something you take at Burning Man, biologicals are not something you want getting into your body. Found in anything from pets, to wet wall, to linen, biologicals are the nasty backbone behind itchy eyes, asthma, fever and influenza, to name a few. If your house has mold, or dust mites, you are in danger.
Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Dioxide in your home
These bad boys are most likely the source of many of your troubles if you live in a house with anything that burns. That could include fireplaces, gas stoves, cigarettes, cigars or gas heaters. Although these pollutants may not kill as many people as Radon, Carbon Monoxide does kill at high doses, and at lower doses causes such troubles as nausea, headaches, confusion, chest pains and fatigue. Nitrogen Dioxide irritates the mucous membranes in the nose and throat, causing irritation and shortness of breath. Good ventilation could save you a world of pain. That’s worth remembering next time you turn on your stove, of light a fire.
Organic Chemicals in your home
The last pollutant I want to talk about comes in the form of household products. These are the ones you know are bad for you - paints, varnishes, cosmetics and any other chemically smelling products. All these products release organic chemicals, boosting the inside volumes to 3-5 times the rate of those outside. Although some of the more dedicated junkies use these products to get high, it is not recommended as some of the common immediate effects include dizziness, memory loss, visual impairment and irritation.
Looking at the list of indoor air pollutants above, how many are found in your house alone? There are lots of ways that you can safeguard your house, for example, good ventilation, which I will dive more into in a later blog, but for now, just consider the air you’re breathing. It could be what’s slowing you down.