Hear “junky air” and you probably picture chimneys pumping out plumes of grey exhaust with face-mask covered city residents shuffling through streets choked with yellow smog. It is enough to make you curl up in the house where the air is crystal clear. You think. Just because you cannot see the filth in the air, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
The common sources
The air inside your home can actually be up between two to five times as polluted as outdoor air. And given we typically spend a high percent of our time indoors – either at our home or another place – and these times up to 100% of our time we spend indoors, we need to take measures. As it is not a crystal clear affaire. Not only can outdoor contaminants creep in, mould, chemicals from furniture and carpets, and dust mites can also accumulate according to studies.
Everyday activities like cooking on a gas stove, cleaning your carpets, or cleaning your home can increase the amount of air pollutants you’re exposed to. Among those are volatile organic compounds (VOCs)— organic gasses which can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and some of which are carcinogens — and particulate matter, microscopic pollutants which can damage the heart and lungs.
More than 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas according to WHO. “Around 3 billion people – more than 40% of the world’s population – still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes, the main source of household air pollution”, outlined by the WHO.
The health impact of indoor air pollution