Indoor air pollution: How to protect yourself and your family. |

The indoor air pollution (IAQ) problems are very serious especially if your family is made of young children and pregnant women. Indoor air pollution is the build up of toxins in the air you breathe indoors. It can be caused by the building materials used in your home, furniture and carpets and by other pollutants in the air that have either leaked into the atmosphere or been put into the air. The toxins that cause indoor air pollution are called contaminants. They can be very dangerous for you and your family.

The air we breathe has a lot of pollutants in it. Some of these, such as carbon monoxide, are known to be toxic, while others are not. The only way to know the levels of these pollutants in your environment is to have the knowledge and equipment to test it. This blog post will provide information on the pollution levels in your home. The information is based on scientific research.

There are many sources of air pollution in our homes. Some of these are well known, such as cooking fuel, car exhaust, and cigarette smoking. Others are not so obvious, such as the air that is breathed indoors. A lot of the time we aren’t even aware of the air we are breathing, since we have become so accustomed to it.

Indoor air pollution is a significant – and sometimes fatal – issue. However, there are a few easy techniques you can do to lower your risk, preserve your health, and protect the health of your family.

What is the definition of indoor air pollution?

The quality of our indoor air may be lowered by gases or particles discharged into the air from a number of sources. This pollution may be anything from innocuous to annoying to lethal.

Long-term inhalation of filthy indoor air may raise your risk of respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and even cancer. Indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health hazards, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

What is the source of this pollution?

There are many sources of indoor air pollution:

  • Oil, gas, kerosene, coal, and wood are all examples of combustion sources.
  • Products containing tobacco
  • Asbestos
  • Carpet that is wet or damp, or construction materials
  • Certain pressed wood materials may be used to make cabinetry or furniture.
  • Cleaning supplies for the home
  • Personal care items
  • Radon
  • Pesticides
  • Air pollution in the open air

Some of these products, such as household cleaning products, release pollutants on a periodic basis, depending on how long you use them. Others, such as air fresheners, continuously release pollutants.

Furthermore, some of these items emit gas pollutants like radon or formaldehyde, as well as tiny particles like asbestos or mold spores, both of which may be fatal.

The following are some of the most common indoor air contaminants and their sources.

Radon is a gas that comes from the earth under your house, as well as well water. Every year, it kills around 20,000 people due to lung cancer.

Tobacco smoke: You’re probably familiar with this one: smoking. Tobacco smoke is the most common cause of lung cancer and raises the risk of heart disease. It also causes developmental difficulties, lower respiratory tract infections, ear infections, and other issues in youngsters exposed to it.

Mold and mildew are caused by damp or wet carpet, low humidity, and wet sheetrock or other building materials. Mold and mildew may aggravate asthma and allergies, as well as generate potentially deadly mycotoxins (fungus). Yuck.

Formaldehyde is a carcinogen found in pressed wood products including plywood, wall paneling, and particleboard, as well as furniture manufactured from these materials. Combustion sources, cigarette smoke, fabrics, and glues are all potential sources. Formaldehyde may irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, produce severe allergic responses, and is a known carcinogen.

Fragrance is used in both home cleaning and personal care products. Artificial scent is made up of almost 200 distinct compounds that haven’t been evaluated for safety and aren’t required to be labeled separately. Fragrance may irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and it frequently includes chemicals that might cause cancer.


Indoor air pollution sources.

How to assess the quality of your indoor air

Are you wondering whether you have an issue with air quality in your own home? There are a few options for finding out.

  1. Radon levels should be checked. Because radon is colorless and odorless, there’s no way to tell unless you use a specialized (and cheap) equipment to check your home’s levels. These cost between $10 and $30 and may be found at home improvement shops or on the internet.
  2. You have a ventilation issue if you have moisture condensation on windows or walls, stuffy air, or mold or mildew.
  3. You may contact experts who have expertise monitoring and improving indoor air quality if you have any additional issues or are uncertain.

What options do you have?

To reduce air pollution in your house, you may use one of three methods.

Get rid of the offender.

It is typically preferable to remove the problematic source since it is the most effective approach.

Setting up an adequate radon mitigation system, for example, would be the greatest approach to reduce radon levels below safe limits if you discover high radon levels in your house. The same goes for removing rotten sheetrock and switching to unscented cleaning supplies.

Some of these solutions may be simple and cheap, while others may take longer or be more expensive, but eliminating the source is always a good idea.

Improve the airflow.

Improving ventilation may also significantly enhance your home’s air quality. Because indoor air levels are more concentrated, opening windows and allowing domestic air to interchange with outside air can reduce levels of several contaminants in your home. This is especially essential while you’re performing activities like painting or other home repair tasks, or even cooking, which may produce significant amounts of pollutants.

Every day, open your windows for at least 15 minutes to improve the air quality and humidity levels in your house. Of course, owing to weather circumstances, this isn’t always feasible.

Purify the air

HEPA filters and other air cleaners may also be beneficial. It’s worth noting, however, that not all HEPA filters are made equal. Some are quite good at eliminating particles while others aren’t. Furthermore, most filters are intended to remove particles rather than gas contaminants. So, before you spend, think about what’s causing your home’s bad air quality.

The % efficiency rate of a HEPA filter determines its efficacy. This is just a measurement of how well it gathers contaminants from indoor air and how much air it draws into its filter.

Setting HEPA filters in the rooms where you spend the most time may significantly reduce particle levels in your air.

The houseplant is another “filter” that is often neglected. True, there is a scarcity of study on plants’ capacity to reduce gas emissions. Their efficacy has only been shown in the lab thus far, not in a real-life household. (The testing was done by NASA, by the way.) However, the signs are encouraging, and it won’t hurt to add a few lovely plants to your decor.

Broadleaf lady palm, lily grass, peace lily, spider plant, red-edged dracaena, and English Ivy, in particular, may be beneficial in eliminating gases including benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and ammonia.

However, certain plants may be toxic to cats, dogs, and children, so ask about this before buying and be careful where you put them. Adding plants to your house may assist to purify the air if you’ve followed those basic measures.


Nature’s own pollution filtration system.


Indoor air pollution may be a severe and life-threatening issue. You may decrease your risk and improve the quality of the air in your home by following a few easy measures.

  • Check for radon in your home’s air and water, and if required, install a radon mitigation system.
  • Reduce your exposure to potentially irritating and dangerous chemicals by using mainly unscented personal care and home cleaning products.
  • Don’t smoke, particularly while you’re indoors.
  • When buying pressed wood furniture and cabinets (such as cribs, rocking chairs, and dressers), look for the GreenGuard emblem wherever feasible.
  • Purchase a HEPA filter for your bedrooms, kitchen, home office, and/or any other area in your house where you spend the most time.
  • Plants may assist to eliminate harmful gases from your house.
  • In your house, maintain proper ventilation and humidity levels. If required, use dehumidifiers and exhaust fans.
  • If the weather permits, open multiple windows in your house for at least 15 minutes each day.

While you won’t be able to make your air completely clean, you can take measures to enhance it and reduce your exposure to potentially fatal contaminants.

However, don’t feel obligated to replace all of your home’s furnishings or all of your cleaning supplies. Simply do what you can right now, such as increase ventilation, purchase some plants and a HEPA filter, or get a dehumidifier for that wet basement.

Begin with one simple adjustment, and then make more informed choices about your home and personal cleaning products, furnishings, and other items in the future.

It’s impossible to reach perfection, but by making modest adjustments over time, you may make significant progress.

Bonus is a great website that lets you check out the air quality in your city. While this is about outside air quality, it will almost definitely have an effect on interior air quality.

The Skin Deep Cosmetics Database of the Environmental Working Group is a fantastic resource for learning how your personal care products rank in terms of health risks. Over 75,000 items have been evaluated and a score assigned to them.

Cleaners Database, a new resource from the Environmental Working Group, will be available in the autumn of 2012. It will do the same kind of analysis as the cosmetics database, but will be limited to cleaning supplies.

B. C. Wolverton’s book How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office is authored by the NASA scientist who researched the capacity of plants to enhance air quality.



It will teach you the optimal diet, exercise, and lifestyle methods that are specific to you.



To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

Indoor Air Quality ( Interior landscaping plants for indoor air pollution abatement, Wolverton BC, Johnson A, Bounds K. NASA (1989).

After the lungs, the nose is the organ that is most exposed to indoor air pollution. Our homes are full of unhealthy building materials, we cook with unhealthy oils and fats and we breathe in all the harmful particles.. Read more about residential indoor air quality and let us know what you think.

{“@context”:””,”@type”:”FAQPage”,”mainEntity”:[{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:”How can you protect yourself from indoor air pollution?”,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:”
The best way to protect yourself from indoor air pollution is to make sure that the air quality in your home is good. This means having a good filter on your furnace, and using an air purifier.”}},{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:”What are the 4 major indoor air pollutants?”,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:”
The four major indoor air pollutants are radon, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.”}},{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:””,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:””}}]}

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you protect yourself from indoor air pollution?

The best way to protect yourself from indoor air pollution is to make sure that the air quality in your home is good. This means having a good filter on your furnace, and using an air purifier.

What are the 4 major indoor air pollutants?

The four major indoor air pollutants are radon, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.

Related Tags

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • epa indoor air quality worse than outdoor
  • how to reduce air pollution
  • indoor air pollution causes
  • 10 ways to reduce pollution
  • indoor air pollution