Earlier this week I posted about the importance of indoor air quality. Today I’m continueing the conversation by discussing the different types of indoor air pollutants. People spend up to 90% of thier time indoors. With the adevent of Covid almost 5 million people were sent to work from home. With millions of Canadians home all day, every day, the quality of the air indoors has become more important than ever before.
What are the major indoor pollutants?
Reposted from Healthlink BC.
Indoor pollutants include:
Biological contaminants can come from both outside and inside the home. Fungi (moulds), insects such as dust mites and cockroaches, dander from fur-bearing animals such dogs or cats, and dusts and pollens are some examples. Biological contaminants can cause allergic symptoms. For more information, see HealthLinkBC File #65b Indoor Air Quality: Mould and Other Biological Contaminants.
Combustion (burning) by-products are gases and small particles caused by the incomplete burning of fuels such as oil, gas, kerosene, wood, coal and propane. Examples include fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. Sources include wood heaters and woodstoves, furnaces, gas stoves, fireplaces, car exhaust from an attached garage and tobacco smoke. For more information, see HealthLinkBC File #65c Indoor Air Quality: Combustion By-products and HealthLinkBC File #30a The Harmful Effects of Second-hand Smoke.
Formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals found in materials such as plywood and particleboard, in furnishings such as furniture, drapes and carpets, and in personal care products. Cleaning agents, paints, lacquers and varnishes are additional sources of VOCs. VOCs can be released from these materials for several years. For more information, see HealthLinkBC File #65d Indoor Air Quality: Volatile Organic Compounds.
Asbestos was used as an insulator and fire retardant for many years. It is sometimes still found in older homes. Asbestos does not cause a health risk unless it is frayed or crumbling and releasing fibers into the air that can be inhaled. Over time, exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer. For more information, see HealthLinkBC File #32 Asbestos: When Should I Worry?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is given off when uranium, which naturally occurs in some soil and rock, decays. Radon gas is odourless, invisible and has no taste. It can enter a home or building directly through the building’s foundation from surrounding soil. Over time, high levels of inhaled radon gas may lead to lung cancer. High levels of radon have been found in parts of interior and northern British Columbia. Kits are available to measure the level of indoor radon. For more information, see HealthLinkBC File #42 Radon in the Homes and Other Dwellings.
Healthlink BC. March 3, 2021. Indoor Air Quality. (Accessed on March 3, 2021). Accessed from: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/indoor-air-quality