Feeling Sick? How Air Quality Impacts Health
Outdoor air pollutants are fairly well-known and publicized, but indoor air pollution can be just as damaging to your health. The World Health Organization points to several complications and increased risks from low indoor air quality, including higher rates of pneumonia, stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer. Many of these complications are attributable to poor use of solid fuels like wood and charcoal, but other negative health effects stem from poor air quality in general.
How can poor indoor air quality impact health?
In a CNN report on air quality published in 2012, NEA Health Information Network Director Jerry Newberry said, “Poor indoor environmental quality contributes to serious health problems for students and staff, including asthma, allergic reactions, fatigue, headaches and respiratory tract infections.”
The result is higher numbers of students missing school and a reduced ability to concentrate when students do make it to class.
What other problems can result from poor indoor air quality and lack of adequate air filters? According to the EPA, increased long- and short-term health problems include:
- Eye irritation
- Asthma episodes or severe asthma attacks
- Allergic reactions
- Legionnaire’s Disease
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Promoting the spread of airborne infectious diseases
- An unfavorable learning environment for children
- Reduced productivity of teachers and staff due to discomfort, sickness, or absenteeism.
In-Home Air Quality
If too little outdoor air enters your home, pollutants can accumulate to unhealthy and uncomfortable levels. And unless your home was built with special mechanical ventilation, it was probably constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that gets in and out.
Health effects from indoor air pollutants can show up right away or years down the road. Immediate effects include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Symptoms of some diseases, including asthma, may also show up soon after exposure to indoor air pollutants. These symptoms are usually short-term and treatable. Sometimes treatment is as simple as eliminating exposure to the pollutant.
Air filters can make a big difference in protecting yourself and your family from air pollutants. For a free guide on air cleaning devices, visit the air cleaning section of the EPA’s website.