Indoor Air Pollution
We spend more than 80% of our time indoors, and for good reason. More than providing shelter from the elements, inside is where we find comforts, where we can gather, interact and work; inside, we feel safe.
But indoor air pollution is now 3-5 times worse than outdoor air pollution. With the prevalence of studies and information on the health risks that come with indoor air pollution, it comes as no surprise that consumers are becoming increasingly mindful of air quality levels at home.
The tricky thing about indoor air pollution, though, is that it’s often hidden in plain sight, and we’re usually unaware of its presence, until physical symptoms start to manifest. Microscopic, toxic chemical compounds, bacteria, and fungal particles accumulate indoors over time, as everyday products and even our bodies, release them into our interior environments.
What exactly are we inhaling indoors, and what can be done to keep our living spaces cleaner and safer?
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are compounds that exist as gases at room temperatures. Sustained exposure to unhealthy VOCs are linked to many long-term health issues, including: respiratory problems, organ toxicity, kidney and liver failure, damage to the central nervous system, stunted development in children, and an increased risk in cancer.
Unhealthy VOCs like formaldehyde, benzene and toulene (which are also mostly odourless) are released from many everyday products, such as cosmetics, cleaning products, air fresheners, moth balls, carpets, and aerosol sprays.
VOC levels are also extremely high after a renovation*, as they are released by traditional building materials like furniture coatings, varnish, adhesives and traditional paint.
*TVOC (Total VOC) Standards:
Healthy Level < 200 µg/m3,
Post Renovation Level ≈ 4000 µg/m3
Mould are types of fungus that thrive in humid environments. They come from microscopic airborne spores, which are carried by people and objects, and find their way into living spaces from outside. They can be found anywhere in a space, from your walls, mattress, couch, curtains, drawers, to aerosolized toilet water.
Besides affecting the aesthetics of your interior environment, a person exposed to mould may experience nasal congestion, allergy symptoms, sinus, respiratory tract infections, and more severe symptoms if he or she is an asthmatic.
Illnesses are spread through airborne contact when these pathogenic microorganisms are inhaled into the body. Any activities which generate aerosol particles or droplets, from sneezing or talking to toilet flushing, cause bacteria to be released into the air, facilitating the transmission of infection.
Infectious bacteria can also allergic reactions; inflammation of the throat, nose, sinuses and lungs; and severe respiratory conditions. Indoor environments, especially if not ventilated, can foster the growth of bacteria that have been introduced into them, as they remain trapped in the space.
Particulate Matter (PM2.5)
These are microscopic particles that are smaller than 2.5 microns, including smoke, dust mites, bacteria, pollen and pet dander. A myriad of daily activities and products releases PM2.5, from cooking to cleaning.
Asthmatics and people with allergies are not the only people to be concerned, however, as PM2.5 can find their way to the deepest portions of your lungs and embed themselves, causing lung diseases, emphysema and lung cancer.
PM2.5 Standards: Healthy Level < 15 µg/m3, Post Renovation Level > 200 µg/m3