4 myths about indoor air quality
1. Indoor air quality is always better than outdoor air quality.
Among all myths about air quality, this is one of the most common. It is true that outdoor air quality in Jakarta is poor but being inside is not always safer. Not only does polluted air seep into our homes from outside, there are also many sources of pollutants inside: cooking stoves, smoking, dust, mould, pet dander, cleaning chemicals, and more. All of these can cause both short-term and long-term health problems, especially among vulnerable people like children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with pre-existing conditions like asthma and heart disease.
2. Indoor air quality doesn’t affect our health.
Both indoor and outdoor air quality affects our health. In the short-term, air pollution can cause headaches, itchy eyes, difficulty breathing, nausea, and fatigue. In the long-term, it can lead to heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and stroke.
Poor indoor air quality is just as bad for our health as poor outdoor air quality. In fact, it can be even worse because we spend most of our time inside, whether at home or at work. This is why it is very important we pay attention to indoor air quality.
3. Plants purify indoor air.
Plants are beautiful and many people love having them inside their homes. Unfortunately, scientific research on the benefits of plants on indoor air quality remains unclear. In laboratory conditions, research suggests that plants do help purify air, including removing some toxic substances.
However, in the real world – such at our homes or workplaces – the impact is less clear because room dynamics such as air flow are completely different. Plants may indeed clean the air but their impact is minimal, because there is significant air exchange between indoors and outdoors. This means while it may be nice to have indoor plants, they don’t make a major contribution to purifying indoor air.
4. Air fresheners and candles improve indoor air quality.
If we smell something bad in our home, or our homes feel stuffy, we may be tempted to use items like air fresheners and candles. While they may smell good and make us relaxed, unfortunately they do little to improve indoor air quality.
Air fresheners contain harmful chemicals that can build up over time, while most candles are made of paraffin, which releases smoke containing chemicals like toluene and benzene. These chemicals have been linked to asthma and even lung cancer. Beeswax candles are better for air quality because they do not release smoke.