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2 Tutorials that teach Indoor Air Pollution
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Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution

Author: Sophia Tutorial

Determine key aspects of indoor air quality issues.

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what's covered
This tutorial will cover the topic of indoor air pollution. We will cover an overview of indoor air quality issues: the sources, the impacts, and the efforts made to improve negative impacts.

Our discussion breaks down as follows:

  1. Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
  2. Impacts of Indoor Air Pollution
  3. Addressing the Impacts of Indoor Air Pollution

1. Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

In the United States, 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 the potential to be highly hazardous to human health.

There are many sources of indoor air pollution including, but not limited to, the following:

Sources of Indoor Air Pollution Examples/Derivations
Building Materials Asbestos, formaldehyde from upholstery and carpeting, and off-gassing from particleboard, plywood, drywall, and plastics can all produce harmful air pollutants.
Pesticides When used or stored indoors, pesticides can create air hazards.
Biologicals 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 Combustibles from heating systems, such as fireplaces, gas heaters, and stoves, as well as kerosene heaters, are all culprits.
Radon This naturally-occurring radioactive gas can be hazardous.
Lead dust Lead dust can occur from paint and is an indoor air pollutant.
Ozone Ozone from copying machines can be an indoor air pollutant as well.
Miscellaneous This grouping includes grills, car exhaust, secondhand smoke, paints, and cleaning products.

2. Impacts of Indoor Air Pollution

Consider 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 United States, 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.

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.

did you know
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.

3. Addressing the Impacts of Indoor Air Pollution

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 and using devices like a HEPA filter
  • Maintaining furnaces while monitoring for CO2 output

Today we learned about indoor air pollutants. We learned about a variety of sources of indoor air pollution, as well as their impacts. We also learned about efforts that can be made to reduce their impacts.

Source: Adapted from Sophia instructor Jensen Morgan