Indoor Air Pollution is a Serious Threat to Your Life
Indoor air pollution refers to poisonous contaminants that people come across in their daily lives, especially at home, schools and places of work. For the last two decades, indoor air quality (IAQ) has raised concerns because of an unfavorable effect it may have on the individual’s health (Colbeck, Nasir, & Ali, 2010). Investigations show that most people spend approximately 90% of their time in the indoor surroundings and up to 50% of their labor force in an office (Crawford, 2005). Many pollutants that emerge in premises lead to a high level of indoor contamination as compared to the one outdoors. This condition is more dangerous in newly build houses where tighter constructions prevent toxic particles from escaping the residence (Hoskins, 2011). On the same note, poor ventilation of these houses contributes significantly to this kind of a problem. Builders construct these structures in such a manner that the flow of oxygen and the release of toxic wastes cannot occur efficiently. As a result, such noxious air can pose many health threats and even be critical at a higher level. Additionally, Hoskins (2011) has described household air pollution as America’s major environmental health problem that is fatal unlike the one outdoors. The polluted indoor air affects children and elderly individuals most of all. Many other sources that cause indoor air pollution are found everywhere in the indoor environment. For instance, “the products of oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood and tobacco” are the most common sources of contamination (Laumbach, 2010). “Building materials and equipment, asbestos-containing insulation, wet carpets and furniture made of wood also fall in the same category” (Hoskins, 2011). Consequently, chemical substances for household cleaning and maintenance, as well as heating and cooling devices may cause internal air contamination (MacKerron, 2009). There are some activities carried at home that seem to be contributing factors towards household contagion. In this manner, smoking and the use of paint strippers in decoration are causative actions with a high concentration of pollutants that can remain in the air for a long time. Therefore, the problems of indoor air pollution pose many current and future threats alongside with the analytical, social, scientific and regulatory challenges of contamination, which require corrective measures.
Current Problems of Indoor Air Contamination
The existing problems can result after a contact or frequent exposure to a contaminated environment, including effects on the eyes, nose, and the throat, irritation, headache, faintness and tiredness (Liu, Guo, & Pan, 2008). In most occasions, these immediate effects generally last for a short period and are easily treated through seeking instant medication help or direct application of drugs. Treatment sometimes presupposes the elimination of the patient’s exposure to the identified factors of pollution. Infections like asthma, pneumonia and humidifier fever have also been linked to indoor air pollution. The possibility of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on the age and the pre-existing medical conditions of a person (MacKerron, 2009). Some individuals may be instantly affected after a continuous contact with biological pollutants. On the other hand, particular instantaneous problems are related to people’s colds or other viral diseases (Laumbach, 2010). It is imperative to concentrate on the time and place of the occurrence of these symptoms to identify whether infections are because of indoor pollution or not.
Long-Term Health Problems
Other health problems may occur after a long time especially after a repeated exposure to toxic wastes. Such conditions as respiratory problems, heart disease and cancer can be severe to the patient (MacKerron, 2009). Indoor air pollution involves biological threats to one or more targeted organs caused by the absorption and transmission of pollutants within the body. They include gastrointestinal, hepatic or renal problems, and immunosuppressive effects on the organs’ systems such as the liver, kidney and the gastrointestinal tract (Noonan, 2010). Moreover, the latter is the first system that is affected by chemicals contained in food and drinks (Colbeck, Nasir, & Ali, 2010). The gut provides a path for the removal of toxic chemicals, drugs and metabolic substances through the liver and the bile system. More importantly, contaminating agents initially affect the mucociliary clearance and then are transferred to the throat. Because of the transportation and dilution of pollutants in the body fluids, few regulatory issues may arise due to a minor contact with microorganisms. However, it may result into be chronic or sub-chronic diseases (Liu, Guo, & Pan, 2008).
Social Problems Related to Indoor Air Pollution
Some cultural and communal views and practices can cause challenges of indoor air pollution. The education level is of great social importance for people to be aware of how to save their home from dangerous pollutants, mold and chemicals that pose threats to their health. Social problems commonly affect the health of many individuals either directly or indirectly as some people from low social classes may not pay attention to keeping their homes clean. It results into air pollution within the surrounding (Noonan, 2010). Some people believe that those who come from a higher economic class in society have a lower risk of contracting infections caused by air pollution (Crawford, 2005). However, even if their homes are cleaner than the ones of the poor, they may face other issues that cause indoor air pollution. These may include social determinants that press an individual to smoke tobacco. They include the total legality of smoking, peer pressure, family background, as well as awareness and smoking policies. Tobacco smoking highly contributes to indoor air contamination. Pollutants in smoke are known to cause carcinogenic, reproductive and chronic respiratory problems.
Along with smoking tobacco, indoor cooking and heating emit some harmful gases like carbon monoxide that affects the blood circulation. This gas combines with Hemoglobin in individual’s red blood cells to form Oxy-hemoglobin. Later, the blood flow is diminished because red blood cells of the patient are affected by the toxic substance. Consequently, the patient may die from the cardiovascular infection when the situation worsens (Laumbach, 2010).
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Scientific and Analytical Challenges
The threat of indoor air pollution to the public health is considerable and comprehensive, and the main problem for scientists is to measure and identify the availability of dangerous chemicals in the air effectively. According to Crawford (2005), there are analytical techniques that are used to measure semi-volatile natural compound emissions like those given off by flame-retardants. In the same context, Noonan (2010) analyzed that the majority of U.S. students and citizens spend their days at schools and in workplaces. Thus, many students are affected by indoor air pollutants at school facilities, especially laboratories. However, the challenge of biological vulnerability and the inability to discover airborne hazards is on rise (MacKerron, 2009). In addition, painting products are a common source of organic compounds that are often used in schools and homesteads. The requirements for paints occasionally depend on the volatile organic compound (VOC) content limits, but do not address the emission of specific compounds. The VOC related to paints and coatings are assumed to be in low concentration. Undoubtedly, such products may not be determined by content measurement (Colbeck, Nasir, & Ali, 2010). It causes great challenges relating to measuring indoor air quality. In this respect, it is often difficult to have a precise picture regarding the amount of chemical contaminants found in the indoor air when relying on the real time data collection. It can be attributed to the fact that an effective sampling technique for collecting indoor air samples is to be developed yet.
Regulatory Challenges of Indoor Air Pollution
Regardless of the significant economic and health costs associated with indoor air pollution, the Congress has no effective policies in addressing this issue. Although it has expressed general concern regarding the issue of pollution, it has largely overlooked the issue of the regulation of the indoor air contamination. For instance, the budget allocated to the Environmental Protection Agency for solving this problem is less than 1% unlike the outdoor air pollution budget (Laumbach, 2010). It is astounding owing to the fact that the EPA has reported that nearly all buildings have problems with indoor air quality.
Control of Indoor Air Pollution
Due to the negative impact of air pollution, both the community and the government should establish a way of avoiding the incidence. This condition has been a threat to the human public health because more people have lost their lives, families and property. As a result, the government should launch a public campaign against smoking tobacco (Liu, Guo, & Pan, 2008). It must also take a stern action against the culprits who pollute the air and affect other individuals. On the other hand, citizens ought to be educated on the need of ventilations in rooms. Furthermore, explaining clearly on how to use domestic cooking devices, especially those that emit harmful gases, will help a lot. This idea will assist to create awareness among society and encourage them to select an appropriate energy source to use.
Globally, scientific organizations have emphasized that it is essential to take major steps to lower greenhouse gases immediately as they remain in the atmosphere for a long time once emitted. In fact, when these gases are reduced in the atmosphere immediately, the risks of the climatic change will decrease. Therefore, it will result into the need for less efforts to be taken to reduce indoor air pollution in the future (Noonan, 2010).
In such situations as painting, applying pesticides or spillage of chemicals, temporarily increasing the ventilation in houses can be useful in diluting toxic fumes in the air (MacKerron, 2009). Similarly, air cleaning mostly involves the filtration of particles from the air because the air passes through the aeration equipment. The removal of gaseous contaminants may be another solution although this system should be used on a frequent basis (Crawford, 2005).
Source management is the most effective preventive measure provided that people can apply it practically. It entails source removal, substitution and encapsulation. The policies and procedures that prevent potential pollutants from entering buildings are even better than avoiding indoor air quality problems. A source change entails a less noxious material than the one presently in use. On the other hand, source encapsulation involves putting a barrier around the source of pollution to release fewer pollutants into the interior (Colbeck, Nasir, & Ali, 2010). Local exhaust is very effective in removing point sources of pollutants before they can scatter into the indoor air by directing the contaminated air outside.
To reduce the negative effects and risks posed by indoor air pollution, scientists have tried to invent new innovative technologies, one of which is the Wolverton Air filtration system. This method uses activated carbon, porous shale pebbles, bacteria, and a wet scrubber to eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air in a tightly sealed building (Liu, Guo, & Pan, 2008). Another technological innovation is the development of a prototype device, whereby the air is pumped through the plant root bed via imbedded diverse tubes to attract VOCs and lower the pollution (Hoskins, 2011). Besides, some techniques are in the process of development aimed to measure non-volatile organic compound emissions.
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Indoor air pollution is an important public issue that can also be characterized as global environmental phenomena. It is apparent that this domestic environmental issue emerged from a modern way of living. Furthermore, the increased use of artificial materials in building and the decreased ventilation rates are the main causes of this problem. The mission of reducing the exposure to agents of air contamination is complicated. It must involve an analysis of particles available in the environment and the degree of the levels of exposure harmful to the human health and the ecosystem. Nevertheless, a decision has to be made considering unacceptable risks. Once a problem is recognized, mitigation strategies must be developed and implemented to avoid further threats to the public health. Besides, the analysis of air pollution problems is increasingly convoluted. Some are national, while others are more vital and valid in all countries. Therefore, it is important for the governments of all states, particularly the urbanized ones, to approve and execute these policies. It will help the authority to face this global issue, improving energy saving policies, use of modern building materials and the present mode of living.