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Indoor Air Pollution Essay

2031 words - 9 pages

Pollution is all around us – in the air, on the ground, and in our homes. Only recently has there been a much bigger emphasis on the impact of indoor air pollution. People spend over half their time in their homes, and “pollutants released indoors are 1,000 times more likely to reach people’s lungs than a pollutant released outdoors (7).” When the particles in the air are inhaled, they travel through the body into the lungs and will settle into the lungs and build up over time (1). These particles remain in the lungs and can cause serious cardiovascular and lung diseases years later. The smaller the particle that is inhaled, the more dangerous the health effects will be.
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Indoor air quality (IAQ) has the potential to be two to five time worse in homes that it is outside (5). This is because buildings and homes are usually closed off from the outside air so that the temperature inside can be controlled by means of heating and cooling systems. This allows the pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and radon gas to build up within the home (2). There are many different ways in which pollutants can enter the home (2). The air from outside comes in every time windows or doors are opened. Therefore houses in areas where there is construction, a high pollen count, or frequent transportation will have more of these pollutants entering their homes. However, these are usually not a prevalent or dangerous as the pollutants coming from inside the home. Any sort of movement, such as walking across the carpet or sitting down on the couch, causes particles such as mold spores, bacteria, feces, and allergens that have settled become airborne and are much more easily inhaled (2). Homes with pets are also at a much higher risk of having more pollutants since pets shed and produce dander (2). Another one of the major sources of indoor air pollution comes from smoking inside. The smoke given off by a cigarette contains a mixture of more than 4,000 different types of chemicals (E). 50 of these chemicals that are emitted are carcinogens (E). In a recent study, it was found that 90% of respirable suspended particles, which are particles in the air that are small enough to be inhaled, come directly from tobacco smoke. This smoke effects both the smoker, and any non-smokers who are in close enough proximity to inhale the secondhand smoke (E).
Another major source of pollution and particulate matter inside the home comes from cooking. There are two main types of fuel used for cooking: solid bio fuels such as wood, dung, twigs, leaves and crops, and processed fuels such as kerosene and liquid petroleum gas (C,4). It has been proven that using processed fuels to cook with can significantly reduce the amount of pollutants released into the home, however, about half of the households around the world are still using solid bio-fuels to cook with (C). The combustion and heating of these biomass fuels is what produces the dangerous particles that are released into the air. This “leads to high concentrations of respireable particulate-gases such as carbon-monoxide, sulphur-dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and toxic compounds like benzene and formaldehyde (4).”
There are also many other ways that chemicals are released that go unnoticed the home every day. Cleaning products, aerosol sprays, hairsprays, and perfumes all leave chemicals in the air that contribute to the amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere (5). Formaldehyde is released from plywood, glue, walls, cabinets and carpets and is a human carcinogen that is known to be a cause of cancer (5). Benzene and other polyaromatic hydrocarbons are released from...

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