Believe it, or not most tests show indoor air quality to be at a lower level than that of outdoor air quality. Basically that means poor air quality inside is more of a risk to our health than it is outside. There are straightforward reasons for this apparently illogical situation. That is the surprising news, yet on the plus side most of us are in a position to remove pollutants from interiors of buildings.
So why is air pollution worse inside than outside?
The declining quality of air indoors to a large extent is due to the ways modern homes are insulated to conserve both energy and heat. Essentially air is trapped in the majority of buildings by insulated wall cavities, insulated attics, and double glazed windows. In the sense of keeping fuel costs down that makes perfectly good sense, in terms of safe air quality not so much.
Why is poor indoor air quality bad for our health?
Poor indoor air quality means that there is a higher risk of pollutants getting into our lungs. If there is little, or no ventilation in a building then pollutants have nowhere to go other than our lungs. Poor air quality is most likely to harm people with existing breathing problems, pregnant women, the old, and in particular the young. Children take in an extra 50% air than adults so are more likely to be adversely affected by poor air quality. Outside pollutants are not so concentrated due to unrestricted air flow. Exercising indoors makes indoor air quality a hundred times worse than it would be outside.
Can we tell if the air inside our homes is a health risk?
The simple answer to this question is no. Aside from smoke most pollutants in your homes cannot be seen, or smelt. The symptoms cannot always be traced back to poor air quality in general, or any specific pollutant in particular. Minor symptoms might not always be linked to poor air quality, for instance there could be other causes of breathlessness, dizziness, and headaches.
If you have any doubts about air quality just open some windows to disperse the concentration of any pollutants. Also smokers should smoke outside, to avoid the risks linked to passive smoking. If you pets then vacuum your home frequently.
Are children most at risk?
In a word, yes. As already mentioned children take in larger gulps of air, increasing the damage that pollutants could do to them. Asthma, is probably the most common illness children get that results from poor air quality. Roughly 4.2 million children in the United States suffer from asthma, research suggests that up to 65% of cases developed due to exposure to pollutants as well as tabacco smoke. Asthma cases decline drastically in homes with clean air, no smoke, and that are kept clean.