Air pollution is the introduction of harmful substances into the atmosphere. These can be anything that is harmful to the environment, humans and other living organisms, including chemicals, particulate matter and biological materials. When we think of pollution we normally think of smog, acid rain, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and other forms of outdoor pollution. However, indoor pollution is equally harmful and one of the major causes of increased incidence of disease. Throat irritation is one of the primary indications of poor outdoor and indoor air quality.
Hazardous air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds are emitted as gases from solids and liquids and some of these have short term and long term health effects. Concentrations of air pollutants are more than ten times higher indoors than outdoors. Moreover, paints, lacquers, paint removers, cleaning supplies, building materials, pesticides, furnishings also work to deteriorate indoor air quality. In offices, air quality is affected by equipment like copiers, printers, carbonless copy paper as well as glues and adhesives.
Studies reveal that the level of pollutants indoors is 2-5 times higher than outdoors. And may be a thousand times higher during and some hours after activities like painting and paint stripping.
The ability of organic chemicals to affect your health varies according to quality of indoor air as well toxicity of pollutants involved. Air pollution effects on your health also vary accordingly. Some of the adverse health effects include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, confusion, nausea and also results in liver and kidney impairment. Excessive pollution can also damage the central nervous system.
Immediate signs of air pollution effects are visible in eye, respiratory tract and throat irritation, which are reflected as symptoms like redness in eyes, difficulty in breathing, cough and excessive compulsion of frequently clearing your throat.
While environmental pollution control is a matter that has to be attended to globally, you can do your own bit to improve the indoor air quality. Products containing potentially hazardous air pollutants are legally bound to mention warnings aimed limiting exposure of the user. Try to meet the precautions mentioned on the label of the products that you are using and as much as possible use them according to instructions. Increase ventilation when using products that emit volatile organic compounds. Better still, go outdoors or use a room equipped with an exhaust fan. Avoid storing such products and buy only in quantities that you need for immediate use. Ensure that you dispose of unused materials safely.
You can aid in improving quality of air in your locality. Select areas in your house, for example the backyard or the front porch and plant trees wherever possible. Join community forums and discuss the need of protecting the environment. Your efforts at controlling air pollution will go a long way in protecting you and your children from its adverse effects.