Indoor Air Pollution Prevention
IndoorAir Pollution Prevention
Manyin our societies associate air pollution to only industrial smoke,exhaust smoke from cars and combustion of hydrocarbons which occurmajorly outdoor. This is because of the awareness thatenvironmentalists have put emphasis on outdoor air pollutionprevention and the available literature in schools focusing on theoutdoor sector alone. This traditional way of thinking needs tochange for the better good of our heath because studies show that itis apparent to prevent indoor air pollution due to the increasedconcentration of contaminants in public and private buildings. Tobetter improve our public heath, indoor pollution preventions shouldbe a major area of concentration in our day to day lives. This paperfocus to first discuss the contradictions involved in indoor airpollution by looking at previous studies and concluded results, thenan analysis of some indoor air pollutants will be done to showsources and effects on human health, then prevention measuresemployed and finally a conclusive remark on the topic.
Inthis modern age, people spend most of their time indoors, whether athome or at work place. The indoor environment is given littleattention from several groups and this leads to low indoor airquality. In other word, indoor air pollution is on the rise fromindoor air contaminants like asbestos, tobacco smoke andformaldehyde. This problem is on the rise in urban areas or mostdeveloped areas where energy costs are high and it is important torecognize this matter as a national health issue in all countries andthere is a need for policy formulation and implementation to preventindoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution is linked to growing ratesof mobility and mortality, due to its association with several healthrisks.
Accordingto Smith, Kirk 2000 in their journal Nationalburden of disease in India from indoor air pollution foundthatona global level taking India as a case study, its citizens use about30% of the total house stoves and epidemiological studies show thatindoor air pollution as a national burden of disease ranges fromabout 3 to 8 % in estimates for Indian women and a 30 to 45% for achild under the age of five. Morbidity rate is also high from indoorair pollution recorded and compared to Indian NBD. The study alsofound that indoor air pollution is a major cause of ill health inIndia when compared to TB, road accidents, all types of cancers, andtropical diseases. Indoor air quality seems to be a major heath issueand when added with outdoor air pollution the estimates would be 5.9%to 9.2% of the total NBD which is about 600,000 to 750,000 deaths peryear.
However,few studies have been conducted to create a direct link thatassociates indoor pollution to mortality, morbidity and public healthhence indoor air pollution has been given little attention over theyears by environmentalist, government and scientist. Smith’s studyon India has shed a new light through taking an approach to theresearch that has been derived from different epidemiological studieshence detailed and valid results on indoor air pollution exposure andtheir effects on human health. Building standard codes have been putin place by the government in trying to improve indoor air qualitysuch as ventilation but this is not enough because the relevantauthorities or stakeholders still don’t give this issue itsrequired importance and relevance.
Publichealth issues and indoor air pollution is a national and globalconcern with Benson first studied the issue in the 1973 article whichled to a number of researchers publishing on the issue and in 1978the US Environmental Protection Agency banned several indoorpollutants. Information on indoor air pollutants has since then beenexpounded and their potential health risks too. Even though somechanges were seen to this development, public policy is still slowdue to several variables that the government uses as an excuse todismiss general conclusions that don’t include the dynamic datagenerated throughout time. It is time for us to be concerned sincerecent changes suggest that indoor air pollution will soon be a majorhealth issue if not prevented soon enough. Factors like energy priceshike (electricity) have made people and institutions to venture intoenergy consumption reduction and alternative fuels. Equally, indoorair quality is affected by measures like reducing air-exchange rates,insulation and fuel switching so as to reduce energy consumption(Spengler, John, and Ken Sexton 1983).
Recentmeasures that involve development and use of renewable energy inurban buildings are crucial but the initial cost of the installmentis high and the idea is still in development stage in many countriesespecially developing countries (Santamouris, Matheos 2013). Wood andcoal and kerosene (stoves) is the main source of energy for manyfamily homes and industries homes in developing countries and thisshould raise the concern for indoor air pollution on a global level.Another factor that raises the concern levels of indoor air pollutionis the rise in health illnesses and has caught the attention of manypublic health officials. Some of the health related issues associatedwith long-term contact to internal air contaminants is increasedrespiratory symptoms. According to Bernstein, Jonathan (2008), astudy conducted in 421 homes in Northern-Central Italy, there was apositive correlation especially during winter between indoor airpollutants exposure and asthmatic symptoms and bronchitis.
Othereffects include Sick building sickness a sick building is a termused to define a poor ventilated where a number of illnesses arereported by individuals occupying the place. The symptoms reportedare a headache, fatigue, eye or skin irritation and nasal while awayfrom the building the symptoms improve or they go away. Sick buildingSickness (SBS) is used to refer to symptoms like a running nose,weekly headaches, dry or irritated eyes, unusual fatigue, and dry ora sore throat. However, this definition is only used inepidemiological studies when it comes to the clinical utility it islimited due to lack of biomarkers. These non-specific symptoms havebeen a controversial issue over the years due to some putativefactors such as temperature, overcrowding, humidity control, jobdissatisfaction, lighting glare and vibration or sound. This argumentexists due to lack of consistency in findings but other studiessuggest differently. Air quality factors that may lead to SBS arepoor building maintenance, increased dust, poor ventilation,bioaerosols, volatile organic compounds, fungal contamination andendotoxins. Regardless of whether the issue is controversial or onedoes not believe in Sick Building Sickness, it is of vital importancethat the clinical immunologist or allergist when dealing with anasthmatic patient to have a practical approach in evaluating thecase. In other words, the clinicians should assess the environmentwhere the patient spend his or her day and ascertain whether otherssuffer from the same problem.
Thereare several pollutants in the air and to analyse this study on thebasis of their effects and prevention methods of indoor pollutants,we will look at each one of them specifically. Ozone gas exposureinduces airways inflammation in both individuals with a pre-existingairways disease and healthy individuals (like chronic obstructivepulmonary function, asthma) and it also leads to a decrease inexercise function and pulmonary function. To individuals with anallergy, ozone gas enhances the allergic response to an inhaledallergen. Exposure to ozone gas has been reported in office buildingsand their main sources being air purifiers. Air purifiers have beenknown to increase ozone gas concentration indoors at a range of 16ppbto 453ppb. A study conducted on asthmatic children living in theinner cities show that ozone gas is associated with measurableincreases in asthma symptoms especially in the morning (Dutmer,Cullen, Matthew, McGraw, and Andrew, 2016).
Nitrogendioxide is another indoor air pollutant, more than half of the UnitedStates households use gas for heating and cooking appliances thus gasis the major source of indoor nitrogen dioxide. Results on therespiratory effects of nitrogen gas are still inconclusive but recentresults show that infants and women are affected by the exposure tothis pollutant. Nitrogen dioxide levels are very high in low-incomehousing due to poor ventilation, use of gas stoves more often asheating appliances and small apartments. A nitrogen dioxide secondaryproduct like Nitrous acid is also found indoors and can lead torespiratory damage.
Likewise,Sulphur dioxide is also one of the most dangerous indoor airpollutant caused by primary combustion of fossil fuels since it isassociated with short-term respiratory mortality and morbidity. Themajor source of Sulphur dioxide and Sulphate aerosols indoors iskerosene heaters which cause bronchoconstriction in both asthmaticadults and healthy adults. A 10ppb increase in sulphur dioxide isassociated with an increase in chest tightness and wheezing innonsmoking women.
Carbonmonoxide (CO) is another source of poisoning in the U.S. it is anodourless, tasteless, nonirritating and colourless gas that isproduced by incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons. In homes, theprimary sources of CO are tobacco smoke, unvented kerosene heatersand gas appliances. Results have indicated that prolonged exposure toCO even when they are in low concentrations leads to diverse healtheffects.
VolatileOrganic compounds (VOCs) are other indoor pollutants produced bycarpet tile, office furniture, vinyl wall coverings, adhesives andcabinetry. Formaldehyde emitters include insulations, workstations,paints and ceiling tile. These combinations can result to anindividual being exposed to different types of VOCs at the same time.Heath effects associated with VOCs are difficulty in concentrationand fatigue, nose irritation and carcinogenicity. The most associatedeffect of irritation in the mucous membrane and formaldehyde is themost known type of VOC associated with indoor air pollution.
Tobaccosmoke contains over 400 chemicals in the form of gaseous particlesand so far the leading cause of deaths. A study conducted by theEuropean Community of Respiratory Heath survey in 2001 reported that65% of the respondents in the study confirmed that they had at leastone smoking parent while growing up and 39% of the respondents werestill being exposed to Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Childrenwho are in contact to ETS are expected to develop reduced respiratorytract symptoms at a higher rate. Other effects include reduced lungfunction, and increased risks of developing asthma, and lung cancer(Hystad, Perry, 2013).
Severalmeasures have been put forward in trying to limit or prevent indoorair pollution since the matter was brought up to the 70s (USDivision of Health and Human Services 2014).Building procedures need to meet the standards put forward by thegovernment most importantly they need to meet the indoor air qualitystandards. Some of the key areas that need improving include poorventilation that causes accumulation of gases or lead to chemicalexposure originating from the building materials and humidityentrapment in the building. HAVC designs that caused poor aircirculation on the buildings, and construction failures are alsobeing considered.
Ingeneral, one should build a healthy home by taking into considerationissues that cause indoor air pollution. These guidelines areavailable to date hence the question why they are not monitored andproperly followed to make sure that indoor air quality is maintained.Some raise the question that costs matter especially in urban areaswhere cheap and affordable housing is required. We acknowledge thatyou want to build cheaper homes but neglecting the health issues isalso not accommodated. Other legislations like the clean Indoors actsban smoking in public places, workplaces, hence reducing the ETSexposure to many individuals, many organisations today are movingtowards sustainability through the use of green technology ratherthan fossil fuels as a means of energy.
Inthis essay, we have looked at the complexities involved in indoor airpollution with respect to health living. The argument presentedforward was that there is a growing concern among many researchers onthe effects of several indoor pollutants with regards to our healthand it is imperative we take preventive measure before it is toolate. We have looked at a study conducted in India, the necessity ofthis study at present and analyzed some of the interior aircontaminants and their effects to our heath. Preventive measures thatare already in place and the recommended ones were also analyzed.Indoor air quality improvement does not only rely on legislation butit begins with you. Grow a plant in the house, buildbetter-ventilated houses and in addition adopt environmental friendlysources of energy.
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Hystad,Perry, et al. "Long-term residential exposure to air pollutionand lung cancer risk." Epidemiology 24.5(2013): 762-772.
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