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Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

Abhijit Naik
While so much is being talked about outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution and its causes are being conveniently ignored. Considering that we are a lot more vulnerable to air pollution inside our homes as compared to outside, turning a blind eye to it is definitely a bad move.
Right from environmental tobacco smoke to pesticides, the causes of indoor air pollution exist in plenty. Other than the sources which introduce harmful particles in the air within your home, there also exist indirect factors which contribute to pollution indoors. One of the most prominent example of the same is inadequate ventilation.
We do take precautions against pollutants when we step out of the house, but we fail to notice that there exist some equally harmful pollutants within our homes. In fact, experts suggest that indoor air pollution is 10 times more of a threat as compared to outdoor air pollution.
Indoor air pollution is referred to contamination of indoor air as a result of introduction of various harmful chemicals and other such matter in the atmosphere. As we spend more time indoors - at home as well as at the workplace, we are more vulnerable to air pollution indoors as compared to the same outdoors.
According to the global health risks - a comprehensive assessment of leading risks to global health by the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.7% of the total diseases in the world are attributed to indoor air pollutants.
The health effects of indoor air pollution range from minor infections and allergies to severe problems such as acute lower respiratory infections and lung cancer. The statistical evidence compiled by the WHO further reveals that as many as 1.6 million people die as a result of ailments which is attributed to indoor air pollution.

Indoor Air Pollution Causes

Combustible substances - such as gas and coal, are considered to be the major culprits when it comes to air pollution. The list of combustible substances which trigger pollution within your home doesn't just restrict to fuel sources though, but also includes activities such as smoking.
One of the major pollutants when it comes to indoor air pollution is carbon monoxide which is formed as a result of incomplete combustion of carbon. In fact, carbon monoxide is one of the most common pollutant in rural areas wherein people still use traditional means of cooking.
In urban areas, on the other hand, the most prominent pollutants happen to be asbestos, radon, etc. Even the fur of domestic animals is a possible pollutant within your home.
In fact, the dust that gets accumulated in your house over the course of time also contributes to this type of air pollution. When you try to dust your carpet or sofa after a long time, you see dust flying all over in the room. This dust is potent enough to trigger infections and allergic reactions in humans.
It may come as a surprise for many, but the germs that come out of your body when you sneeze have the tendency to pollute the environment and trigger infectious ailments.
At times, the emissions from outdoor air pollution sources can also travel with air and enter your home, thus polluting the environment indoors. Even pesticides that you use in the house act as pollutants as the fumes coming from the same escape into the environment.

How Inadequate Ventilation Contributes to Indoor Air Pollution?

As we mentioned earlier, inadequate ventilation adds to the intensity of air pollution indoors because dilution of pollutants becomes difficult as outdoor air cannot come inside and indoor polluted air cannot go outside.
If an individual smokes cigarette indoors and outdoors, you will notice that the dilution of environmental tobacco smoke is much fast outdoors as compared to indoors, wherein the smoke continues to fill the room for quite sometime.
The same applies to emissions from other air pollutants as well, though it may not be as obvious as the tobacco smoke which is accompanied by strong smell.
While the practice of building air-tight structures to minimize energy loss has become quite popular over the last decade or two, the same has also contributed to indoor air pollution by hampering air ventilation.
Other than release of pollutants and inadequate ventilation, climatic factors such as temperature and humidity also play a crucial role in determining the levels of pollution within your home.
Taking the severity of this issue into consideration, it becomes all the more important to prevent indoor air pollution; and for that we need to make it a point to attend to all these causes of the same.
Simple measures like vacuum cleaning the home once in a while, making sure that the home is properly ventilated, not smoking within closed buildings, shifting from traditional means of cooking to modern means, etc., can help you limit the amount of pollutants within the building, if not get rid of them completely.