What causes indoor air pollution?
Indoor air pollution can come from many different sources. Some houses and workplaces will experience problems with many kinds of pollutants, while others may have no issues at all. Our indoor air quality depends on building design, appliances (such as cooking stoves), and location, so every building will have different air quality. Ventilation (air flow), temperature, and humidity also affect indoor air quality.
Outdoor Air Pollution Can Get Indoors
One of the biggest sources of indoor air pollution is actually outdoor air pollution. This is known as seepage. Seepage occurs when buildings are not sealed properly, meaning that there are gaps between walls, windows, and doors. The situation is more complicated in hot, humid climates like Indonesia, where many buildings are not designed to be completely sealed.
Unfortunately, if the outdoor air is polluted and allowed to enter a building, the indoor air will also become polluted. This can be a big problem if your house or workplace is near a big road or during times of smoky air due to wildfires.
Cooking Food At Home Causes Bad Air Quality
Cooking is another major source of indoor air pollution. Cooking and frying release many particles into the air. One study found that cooking an omelette in your kitchen exposes you to more PM2.5 than standing on a busy roadside in London.1 This is even more true if we accidentally burn something!
Burning Rubbish Outdoors Is Dangerous
Burning off rubbish outside can also reduce indoor air quality, bringing inside not only smoke but dangerous chemical pollutants. Burning rubbish may seem like a quick solution but it can make our eyes itchy, make us cough, and even make it difficult to breathe. It is better to dispose of rubbish by throwing it in the bin to be collected and taken to a garbage dump.
Smoking Causes Indoor Air Quality To Get Worse
Other sources of indoor air pollution are more easily controllable. Smoking cigarettes inside heavily pollutes our air, especially in poorly-ventilated areas. It is important to understand that smokers are not the only people affected by smoking. Passive smoke can also seriously impact the health of people nearby, especially children.
Pets, Dust And Mold Also Impact Indoor Air Quality
Pets also cause breathing problems in some individuals. Both cats and dogs shed large amounts of fur and dead skin known as dander, and this can lead to serious breathing difficulties.
Finally, dust and mould are also major contributors to poor indoor air quality, especially in hot, humid climates like Indonesia. Dust can be brought inside by wind and is often a problem in both urban and rural areas. Meanwhile, mould on walls and ceilings can easily develop in humid areas, especially during the rainy season. Mould spores can cause serious health issues, particularly in children. Additionally, home improvement activities such as painting walls or installing new flooring can lead to large amounts of chemicals and dust being ejected into the air.
As you can see, indoor air pollution comes from a variety of different sources. All types of pollution can affect our health, which is why it is important not only to understand where pollution comes from but also to recognise how it impacts our health.
Click here to learn more about how indoor air pollution impacts our health.
1Air Quality News. https://airqualitynews.com/2019/07/05/exposure-to-pm2-5-greater-cooking-an-omelette-than-london-roadside-study-claims/