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Q & A - Why Indoor Air Pollution Is A Problem

As with any toxin exposure, the risk to your health from indoor air pollution depends on the levels in your homes air, how toxic the pollutants are, and how long and often you’re exposed

And that makes indoor air pollution a problem. Because the levels in your home are often high, even 100 times higher than the exposure standards. And indoor concentrations of some cancerous chemicals are between 5 and even up to 70 times higher than outdoors.

Also, many air pollutants are very toxic. Of the 15 compounds identified in most homes, nine were identified as priority chronic hazards in U.S. homes.

They are acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, 1,3-butadiene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene, nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5.

You’re also continually exposed to air pollutants. While the amounts of different toxic chemicals fluctuate, the common ones are always found in indoor air.

Plus, indoor air pollutants enter your body through your skin and when you breathe. And since you inhale 6–10 liters of air a minute (15,000 liters per day), that’s a lot of exposure.

Indoor air pollution is also a problem because the toxic chemicals you inhale and absorb through your skin bypass your liver. It’s your body’s detox organ and main protection from toxic substances. So that means toxic air pollutants move through your body unchanged.

For example, your body quickly absorbs fine and especially ultrafine particles. These particles may lodge in your lungs or pass directly directly into your blood stream, causing a direct insult to your cardiovascular system and other organs distant from your lungs.

It's no wonder that the EPA considers indoor air pollution among the top five risks to public health. Both short and long term exposure can make you sick.

Short Term Exposure (defined as hours to days) can cause 

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms

Breathing even low levels of indoor air pollutants for long periods of time can cause

  • Cancers (lung, leukemia, lymphoma, nasopharyngeal)
  • Endocrine System damage
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Central Nervous System damage
  • Immune System damage
  • Heart Disease
  • Respiratory Problems (COPD, bronchitis)
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