How's the Air in There?
Most of us spend more time indoors than outdoors. That means you breathe a whole lot more indoor air. So, how is the air in there? Whether you're at home, school or work, what's filling up your lungs can affect your health in a big way! So, take a deep breath, and let's look at indoor air—what pollutes it and how it can affect your health.
So what's polluting the air indoors—and what breathing it can do to you. Poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer and chronic lung diseases such as COPD. If you already have a lung disease, like asthma, you're at greater risk.
Depending on where you are and what goes on there, the air could be a toxic soup. We get a lot of questions about some of the more popular seasonings in that toxic soup: Bacteria and viruses, Dust mites and dust, Mold and mildew and Pet dander.
But these aren't even the most dangerous ones. Some can kill. Others cause cancer. And a few may even react with other gases to form new nasties in your air. For example, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases that are emitted into the air from products or processes, like painting or burning wood or other fuel. Radon, which sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, is actually a fairly common radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. Where can these pollutants come from? You might be surprised!
- Dampness or standing water
- Cockroaches or other pests
- Cleaning supplies
- Indoor wood burning
- New construction, renovation or painting
But the worst of all indoor air pollutants is also one of the easiest to solve: tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke hurts virtually every system in your body (yes—it can even make you go blind!). Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard causing more than 41,000 deaths per year. It can cause or worsen a wide range of damaging health effects in children and adults, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. And, no, air cleaning devices won't remove this smoke. The fix is simple—just don't let anyone smoke indoors. Luckily, we have tools that can help smokers quit and information about laws that can protect you from exposure to secondhand smoke as well as information on policies for smokefree multi-unit housing.
Found it? Fix it!
Now that you've learned about indoor air pollution and what it can do to you, check out our blogs on how to keep your air healthy at home, work and school. Each situation is different, but we have tools and tips to help you breathe easier no matter where you are.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to keep our indoor air clean and healthy. The American Lung Association works for healthy air and healthy lungs every day. But we can't do it without your help! Join us and we can all breathe healthy, indoors and out.