Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution.

Indoor Air Pollution At a Glance

Every time we talk about a green home, our thoughts are simply directing to the household emission we generate, and we feel guilty about it, forgetting another thing that harms the home inhabitants, the indoor air pollution, which could even be more hazardous than emission.

A baby crawling on the floor inhales the equivalent of 4 cigarettes a day, as a result of the out gassing of carpets, molds, mildews, fungi, dust mites, etc.

Scientific America

Indoor pollution usually sourced from building materials paints, adhesives clothing, varnishes, furnishings, and other items that are commonly and inevitably used in our home. Thus it could be said that most home unavoidably have some sources of air pollutants.

There are hundreds of indoor pollutant, but the most commonly found in our homes are benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and carbon monoxide, which include in VOC- Volatile Organic Compound-  that often cause Sick Building Syndrome and other health risks, including potential carcinogens. When these chemicals are trapped indoor without air circulation, the inhabitants may become the victims of those risks.


Benzene, also known as benzol, is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor, with chemical symbol C6H6 (Wikipedia).   It can be found in the air, water and soil, and in our indoor daily life, it commonly presents in paints, detergents, plastics, rubber, glue, furniture wax and cigarette smoking. Being one of the indoor pollution, benzene carries some health risks to the home inhabitants.

The health risk of benzene exposure:   acute exposure of high lever benzene is reported to cause skin and eyes irritation, dizziness, weakness, headache, respiratory diseases, irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage. A long term inhalation exposure of benzene will cause various blood disorders such as reduction in red blood cells and aplastic anemia. High lever inhalation is reported to effects on reproduction in women. EPA even classified benzene as a Group A, human carcinogen.

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a non-natural chemical, but man-made nonflammable liquid which evaporates quickly. chemical that does not occur naturally in the environment. It’s a pale blue nonflammable liquid with a sweet smell that evaporates easily. The chemical is commonly used to remove grease from metal.  TCE turns into indoor air pollution after being released from metal cleaners, paint, typewriter correction fluid, the ink in copy machines, faxes, and printers, stain removers, carpet-cleaning fluids, pesticides, dry cleaning, adhesives, and varnishes.

Health Risks of Trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure:

A short-term exposure to TCE causes depression of the central nervous system, dizziness, headache, eye, nose and throat irritation. Acute concentrations have caused numbness and facial pain, reduced eyesight, unconsciousness, irregular heartbeat and other heart problems including cardiac arrhythmias, and serious liver injury.

TCE can be lethal indoor air pollution.  Several years of TCE exposure can even cause cancer in humans.

Formaldehyde (CH2O)

Formaldehyde is an organic compound, the simplest of the aldehydes, used in large amounts in a variety of chemical manufacturing processes. It is produced principally by the vapor-phase oxidation of methanol and is commonly sold as formalin, a 37 percent aqueous solution (Encyclopedia Britannica )

Formaldehyde is one of the best known volatile organic compounds (VOC) pollutants .As one of the indoor pollution, Formaldehyde gets in our homes through products with formaldehyde-based resins, such as plywood, paneling, particleboard, paneling, wall paper, furniture, cabinets, carpets, water repellants, draperies. Some products of plastics, dishwashing liquids, paints, varnishes, and fabric softeners also involve this chemical compound, and to our surprise, cosmetic products such as nail polish and facial tissues also imply this chemical component!  Some human activities might also push these components to become indoor air pollution, smoking, starting your car engine, burning wood on fireplace. This formaldehyde is also applied in mattress ticking and permanent press fabric.

The Health Risk of Formaldehyde Exposure.

Formaldehyde has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA. Even in low level, a long exposure of airborne formaldehyde may cause coughing, wheezing, and asthma-related respiratory symptoms. Irritation on eyes, nose and throat and chest tightness could also occur in exposure from this kind of indoor air pollution.

Hypersensitivity may occur as a consequence of an acute severe reaction to formaldehyde vapor.  In his report Introduction to Indoor Air Quality: A Reference Manual, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Public Health Service, and National Environmental Health Association estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the U.S. population, including asthmatics, may have hyper reactive airways which may make them more susceptible to formaldehyde’s effects.

Carbon Monoxide.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is another odorless, colorless but dangerous gas, which is generated from incomplete combustion of fuel. Cigarette smoking, open fires, gas stoves, appliances and heaters transfer this chemical compound to be indoor air pollutant.

The health risk of Carbon Monoxide (CO) exposure.

CO actually prevents the delivery of oxygen to the body’s cells, and therefore is dangerous for every creature of oxygen breathers like us, human. The other effect of inhaling high levels of Carbon Monoxide gas is having vision problems and physical or mental injury. People with heart problems may suffer chest pain  upon brief CO exposure which will follows with reduced physical function. Even healthy people may get cardiovascular problems when chronically exposed to CO.

50% of all illness is aggravated or caused by polluted indoor air.

American College of Allergies

Solution of Indoor Air Pollution:

Rather than treating with medicine, physicians are now tend to solve the above related health problems by  minimizing the indoor air pollution. Lots of products of air purifier  have been created to reduce the air pollution.  There are 3 ways of improving the home air quality  :

Air Pollutant Dilution:  By flowing in the outside air and letting the indoor air out, which can dilute the indoor air pollution concentration. Open all your doors and windows;   this is the simplest solution!   All we have to do is making sure that the outdoor air is fresh, clean and pollution-free!

Air Pollutant Removal: by using airborne particulates filters, which can remove pollutants and contaminants from the air.

Air Pollution Neutralization. : by using air pollution neutralizer which commonly  performs technologies that involve UV lights, hydroxyl radicals and other combination of safe chemical compounds that not only reduce the air pollutants, but also destroy bacteria, viruses and fungi.

NASA seemed to also have a deep concern with this indoor air pollution that it conducted a two year study with the Associated Landscape Contractor of America ( ALCA ) that came into surprising result. Some plants can do the job of absorbing the indoor pollution, some even produce oxygen while doing the job!

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