Some Facts about Indoor Air Pollution
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most people spend most of their time at home, in the office, or in a relatively enclosed space. But the occurrence of air pollution in these indoor places is about two to five times higher than that of outdoor air pollution. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are the main contributors to indoor air pollution. These are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at normal room temperature. Because of the high vapor pressure, a very low boiling point may lead to numerous molecules evaporating or sublimating from any compounded forms, either liquid or solid, and then entering into the surrounding air. VOCs are multiple, varied and ubiquitous. They can be created by human-made and natural chemical compounds. Some VOCs are dangerous, causing long-term health problems to humans or the environment. For example, formaldehyde and benzene are carcinogens, and methyl chloride and perchloroethylene are cancer causing. Many products we use daily, like cleaners, equipment and personal care products, emit a significant concentration of VOCs indoors.
Formaldehyde, the most common cause of indoor air pollution, is colorless, but has a characteristic pungent, irritating odor. A lot of products contain formaldehyde, such as food preservatives, domestic cleaners and carpets. It’s also known as a carcinogen and has significant adverse effects on human health because of its toxicity and volatility.
Benzene is a colorless and highly flammable liquid with a sweet smell, and also an important element in gasoline. Many household products can release it into our indoor air, such as detergent, glue, furniture wax and paint. The usage of it in non-industrial professions has been restricted because of its carcinogenicity.
Perchloroethylene is a colorless liquid widely used for dry cleaning of fabrics. But its sweet smell can be detected by most people if its concentration is up to 1 ppm.
Methyl chloride, also called chloromethane, is a colorless gas with a mildly sweet smell and is extremely flammable. It was once used as a refrigerant, but now its usage in refrigerators has been banned. You can still find it in aerosol spray paints or paint strippers.
There are many available sources about air pollutants on the Internet. We can review them frequently to keep informed of their harmful effects on human health.
Natural Ways to Improve Our Indoor Air Quality
If you are concerned that modern ways to reduce indoor air pollution may cause more pollutants, you can try some natural ways.
Eliminating air pollutants
The best way to improve the indoor air quality is to eliminate all the chemical pollutants, which sounds fairly easy. Most products we use can emit VOCs, so if we avoid using them, the air will be improved greatly. Most people choose chemical cleansers because of their efficiency. Actually, baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar can also clean effectively.
Perhaps eliminating all the indoor chemical pollutants is impossible nowadays. But if you are living where outdoor air is clean, you can just open the doors or windows to recycle the air. Good ventilation is very effective in drawing VOCs outside.
Filtrate indoor air naturally
Studies conducted by NASA have shown that placing some green plants in offices or homes is a good way to filter polluted air. Many plants not only are beautiful additions to homes or offices, but also make the air healthier.
Many small, natural practices can really help to improve our indoor air quality. A simple move can benefit your health as well as that of your family.