With the amount of activism and positive media involvement regarding air pollution and its hazards, an increasing number of people have grown sensitive toward it. However, most of us are still ignorant about a bigger problem that’s hiding within our homes, killing over 4.3 million people every year. Indoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organization, is commonly the result of poorly ventilated buildings, cooking on open fires or traditional stoves. And poor air quality is the initial phase of air pollution.
Poor indoor air quality isn’t just restricted to traditional or rural homes; several urban settlements are also at risk. Studies also state that it poses a major environmental and health challenge in developing countries.1 Here’s how you can find out whether your house has poor indoor air quality.2
1. High Humidity
Ideally, indoor humidity should lie between 40–50% ( and below 40% in winters). Every 2 weeks, use a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your house – if the humidity exceeds or falls below the ideal level, it could mean that you have poor indoor air quality. High humidity encourages the growth of mould, acts as a breeding ground for dust mites, and causes allergies.3 4
2. Excessive Dust
If there isn’t any construction work going on within or around your house, then your rooms shouldn’t be filled with dust. Of course, the accumulation of a small amount of dust is normal, but if you find that your couch becomes dusty just a few hours after you clean it, perhaps it’s time to check the indoor air quality. To improve the air quality and prevent dust from entering the house, invest in an air filter. It’ll keep your living space dust-free and also protect your tech-equipment from overheating.
3. Uneven Temperatures
If you air-condition only one or two of your rooms, it’s likely that the rest of the house is significantly warmer. These uneven temperatures often affect the indoor air quality and cause poor air circulation. To keep this is check, consider opting for a zoning system that divides the house into sections that are cooled and heated separately. This avoids overcooling or overheating of certain areas of the house, and promotes a healthy air quality.5 6
4. Unpleasant Odors
If you enter your house after a long day at work only to be greeted by a not-so-pleasant odor, then maybe your indoor air quality is to blame. If your house is not well-ventilated, there might not be enough space for air to circulate. This results in a stale odor, which is particularly evident when you enter the house after long hours of being out. To improve air circulation, open your windows, install ceiling fans, or consider opting for ventilation systems.7
5. Artificial Lighting
Artifical lighting not only leads to visual stress (eye irritation and headaches) but also causes a drop in indoor air quality. Using too many lights within the house can hamper the quality of the air. Instead, open your windows and let in the sunlight. This will also provide extra ventilation. Now, that’s what we call a win-win!8
6. Respiratory Issues And Allergies
Sometimes, poor air quality isn’t apparent and might not result in any of the above-mentioned points. However, a sure-shot sign that something’s off about your home’s air quality is the health issues it might cause. If you, your spouse, or your children are frequently affected by common cold, skin rashes, and nosebleeds, it could be an allergy caused due to poor air quality. If you’re suffering from illnesses like asthma or bronchitis, it is wise to attend to the poor air quality immediately. Indoor air pollution can also cause lung cancer and other serious conditions.9
Apart from improving the forms of ventilation in the house, it’s also important to spend time outdoors and away from the indoor air. The exposure to poor indoor air quality is particularly high in people who spend considerable amounts of time indoors.10 Additionally, if you feel that two or more of the above-mentioned points apply to you, then immediately consult a professional who can give you more tips on how to make the situation better.
|↑1||Bruce, Nigel, Rogelio Perez-Padilla, and Rachel Albalak. “Indoor air pollution in developing countries: a major environmental and public health challenge.” Bulletin of the world health organization 78, no. 9 (2000): 1078-1092.|
|↑2, ↑10||Household (Indoor) Air Pollution. World Health Organization.|
|↑3||Fang, Lei, Geo Clausen, and Povl Ole Fanger. “Impact of temperature and humidity on the perception of indoor air quality.” Indoor air 8, no. 2 (1998): 80-90.|
|↑4, ↑5||Indoor Air Quality. United States Department of Labor.|
|↑6||Burroughs, H. E. Shirley J. Hansen. Managing Indoor Air Quality. The Fairmont press, Inc, 2011.|
|↑7||Burroughs, H. E. Shirley J. Hansen. Managing Indoor Air Quality. The Fairmont press, Inc, 2011.|
|↑8||Brooks, Bradford O. Understanding Indoor Air Quality. CRC Press, 1991.|
|↑9||Mumford, J. L., X. Z. He, R. S. Chapman, S. R. Cao, D. B. Harris, X. M. Li, Y. L. Xian et al. “Lung cancer and indoor air pollution in Xuan Wei, China.” Science 235 (1987): 217-221.|