The consequences of a polluted indoor air

The consequences of a polluted indoor air

Indoor pollution

Indoor pollution is the combination of outdoor pollution that gets in and confines itself, associated with pollution produced indoors. It comes from an outside environment which is accumulated and stays in a closed space inside if the air is not renewed properly. It enters homes, public and educational facilities, office buildings, health care facilities and transportation. The deterioration of indoor air quality has become a public health concern.

We spend about 80% of our time indoors and we breathe in an average of 10,000/20,000 liters of air per day depending on the physical effort we make. The air in enclosed spaces is up to 8 times more polluted than the air outside. In indoor spaces, air renewal is sometimes insufficient to evacuate all the pollutants.

Pollution particles, mostly micro-particles that are invisible to the naked eye, are all around us and we are constantly exposed to airborne pollution.

Airborne biological, physical and chemical pollutants and fine particles, found indoors, can interact and remain in suspension for a considerable time. These elements are today a major source of global concern, but it remains a subject around which a large number of populations are not yet aware.

We all have a basic need to breathe healthy air. In order to make the best choices for living in an unpolluted environment, it is necessary to know the nature of the pollutants you want to get rid of as well as the devices to use in order to improve your quality of life.

The various indoor air pollutants

In our homes, offices and common spaces, many pollutants of different natures or coming from various sources are trapped. Outside, the pollution consists of gases that pollute the planet and contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Likewise, in the passenger compartment of a car, the concentrated pollutants come from outdoor pollution, dust, engine combustion, tire wear and tar fumes. A car driver is more exposed to pollution than a cyclist for instance.

Biological pollutants

Biological pollutants are living organisms (bacteria, viruses, animals, plants, molds, acarids, etc.) and for some, allergens. They can be created by biological beings and proliferate in badly maintained equipment or furniture. Plants can be the source of pollution such as pollens.

The most known allergen in a house is the allergy to dust mites, and more precisely to their faeces. Also, the allergens Fel d1 coming from the saliva of cats and Can f1 coming from that of dogs, are biological pollutants limiting for 3% of the French in 2020.

Chemical pollutants

Chemical pollutants are artificial substances, damaging to our health, that man has introduced into an environment where they were previously absent / non-existent. These substances cannot be eliminated by our ecosystem and are likely to have an impact on humans and pets if not treated indoors.

We can find a kind which are the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). VOCs are chemicals that are found in the air in gaseous form at room temperature and as scented molecules. They can be released from many materials: glues, paints, home cleaning products, perfumes, cosmetics, furniture varnishes, etc.

Hydrocarbons (butane, propane) and odors such as formaldehydes can also be found.

In terms of health, VOCs can cause respiratory problems or asthma in sensitive people.

Physical pollutants

Physical pollutants are represented by fine air particles. Also called PM (Particulate Matter), these are microscopic particles in suspension in the air. There exists several types: PM 10 (diameter less than 10 microns) and PM 2.5 (diameter less than 2.5 microns).

The European Environment Agency (EEA) considers these fine particles to be "the most harmful air pollutants to human health in Europe".

The effects of indoor air pollution on health

Air pollution is damaging our environment and our health. The effects of indoor pollution are gradually being recognized, although this is a subject that is not widely shared. It is still difficult to assess all the health effects of pollutants since they differ according to the place, the time spent in the room, the inhaled dose and the vulnerability of the person exposed.

The consequences on our health can be sudden or can affect us on the long run.

The most frequently felt symptoms by the populations are the following : 

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing and headaches ;
  • Allergies and asthma ; 
  • Chronic diseases: cancers, respiratory impairment ; 
  • Cardiovascular diseases: heart attack, heart failure, stroke, etc.

The right habits against indoor air pollution

  • Ventilate as much as possible, on average once an hour. It is always better to let some pollutants in and have the air circulate, rather than locking them up in your home. In poorly ventilated homes and offices, allergens and molds are created more easily.
  • Ventilate when you cook, do maintenance or crafts
  • Avoid smoking inside your home. 
  • Limit the use of essential oils, candles and incense.
  • Vacuum regularly, preferably to absorb fine particles that are deposited on the floor. 
  • Buy and use an air purifier adapted to the surface and volume of your room. They treat and eliminate fine airborne particles down to 0.01 micrometers in diameter.

Where should these devices be used?

Fine particles are concentrated in all places where there is human activity. The air purifier addresses and adapts to all environments, private, professional or hypersensitive people.

In a professional environment, be it offices, administrative buildings, schools, pharmaceutical laboratories, clean rooms or operating theatres etc., pollutants are concentrated indoors, the operation and flow of chemical substances, concentrated in odors and other polluting agents, can cause damage to the individuals' health at work.

In private homes, people are spending more and more time indoors. Whether it's for working from home, exercising at home or simply resting, the use of an air purifier is highly recommended.

Some people have allergic disorders and chemical sensitivities or hypersensitivities that can result in respiratory problems, rashes, dizziness, etc. Air purifiers are also 99.99% effective against pollens, formaldehydes, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) responsible for these conditions.

At AIR ET SANTÉ, we pay particular attention to :