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Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution

Author: Jensen Morgan

This lesson provides an overview of indoor air quality issues

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Source: Earth PD

Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jensen Morgan. We're going to talk about some great concepts in environmental science. Today's topic is indoor air pollution. So let's get started.

We're going to talk about indoor air pollution, its sources, its impacts, and efforts made to improve negative impacts. In the US, the majority of time is spent indoors, around 87% to be exact. Buildings and what is inside them often emit harmful particulate matter and gases. In short, indoor air pollution has potential to be highly hazardous to human health.

There are many sources of indoor air pollution. I'm going to cover a few of them. Building materials themselves, such as asbestos, formaldehyde from upholstery and carpeting, and off-gassing from particleboard, plywood, drywall, and plastics, can produce harmful air pollutants. Pesticides, used or stored indoors, can create air hazards. Biologicals, such as mold that has been trapped inside or is growing from water damage, can produce toxins, while dust mites, fungal spores, and pet hair all produce air pollutants as well.

Combustibles from heating systems, like fireplaces, gas heaters and stoves, as well as kerosene heaters, are all culprits. Radon, which is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, can be hazardous. Lead dust from paint and ozone from copying machines can be indoor air pollutants as well. And the last miscellaneous grouping includes grills, car exhaust, secondhand smoke, paints, and cleaning products.

I want to touch on a few important facts about indoor air pollution sources. Lead dust, asbestos, radon, and combustibles like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are the most common indoor pollutants. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. 40 million people in the United States suffer from allergies, which are exacerbated by indoor air pollutants. Asthma is the sixth most common chronic illness in the US, and it is made worse by air pollution. Sadly, 4.3 million people a year die from exposure to household air pollutants, most often from burning combustibles inside.

Let's focus in on impacts like the ones I just mentioned. Because people spend 87%, the vast majority, of their time indoors around air pollutants, the risks from exposure to indoor air pollutants could be greater than their outdoor counterparts. In general, indoor air pollutants are two to five times higher than outdoor ones and can be as much as 100 times higher than outside. Immediate effects of indoor air pollution can be eye and nose irritation and even dizziness, while long term effects can be damage to organs and tissues, visual impairment, and even cancer.

There are efforts that can be made to improve the impacts of indoor air pollution, such as eliminating or containing the source of pollution, increasing ventilation through open windows, or fans to increase outdoor air flowing through a building, cleaning the air with an air cleaner, using something like a HEPA filter, and maintaining furnaces while monitoring for CO2 output.

Now let's have a recap. Today, we talked about indoor air pollutants, their sources, their impacts, and efforts that can be made to reduce their impacts. Well, that's all for this tutorial. I hope these concepts have been helpful, and I look forward to next time. Bye