What Makes Air Quality Poor?
In recent years, scientists and health professionals have been concerned about air toxicity. Studies show that air can not only be the cause of many diseases, but it can also affect people's awareness of both happiness and mood.
What does poor air quality mean?
Most people think of air pollution as the smog they see outside at high concentrations, but few people realize that indoor pollution can also cause them harm. How much time do you spend indoors? Actually, a lot more than you think. We spend about 90% of our time indoors, so indoor air quality is very important for our health. Poor indoor air quality leads to lung diseases such as asthma and allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer, as well as damage to other organs. People already suffering from lung disease are more susceptible to the negative effects of polluted indoor air. In addition, people with severe illnesses spend significantly more time indoors.
The air is transparent, so it is impossible to notice that it contains harmful substances, especially if you live permanently in the city. The only difference you can notice is, in contrast, going out into nature or on vacation. According to the World Health Organization, nine out of ten people in the world breathe polluted air and about seven million people die annually from diseases developed due to poor ecology. Most of such cases are registered in third-world countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. At the same time in many large European cities, the permissible norms of pollution are exceeded several times.
How is the air polluted?
The main reason for the deterioration of air quality is cars. In the center of large cities, the concentration of harmful ammonia in the air exceeds the permissible level almost three times. Diesel-powered buses emit 1,400 tons of hydrocarbons and about 1,600 tons of nitrogen. Plants and thermal power plants saturate the atmosphere with lead, sulfur dioxide, phenol, radon, legionella, and dust. A person inhales about nine kilograms of air per day, and many toxic substances are deposited in the lungs.
What are the symptoms of poor air quality?
Some people are more susceptible than others to certain pollutants in indoor air. Children, for example, are more sensitive to environmental tobacco smoke, while in women it usually causes dryness in the throat and eyes. Patients who are allergic to dust mites and/or pets are contraindicated from being in the same room with them. More often than not, however, it is not possible to predict exactly who and to what extent people may be affected by poor indoor air quality. However, when the concentration of pollutants in the ambient air is too high, almost anyone can be affected.
According to the EPA, "people with lung disease, children, the elderly and people who actively walk outdoors are considered sensitive and therefore at greater risk" when ozone levels are between 101 and 200. Also, "people with heart or lung disease, the elderly, and children are considered sensitive and therefore at greater risk" when particulate pollution levels are between 101 and 200.
Physical activity can be a significant risk factor when contaminant levels are at or above orange for two reasons. First, with heavy exertion, people tend to breathe through their mouths rather than their noses. The nose and nasal passages act as a filter to remove some pollutants before the air reaches the lungs. Breathing through the mouth bypasses this natural filter system. Second, stress causes people to breathe deeper and faster, so more air passes through the lungs, exposing them to more pollutants.
Specific health effects of elevated levels of air pollution include:
Short-term: cough, sore throat, decreased lung function, worsened asthma symptoms;
Long-term: increased susceptibility to infections, lung cell damage.
Particulate matter contamination
Short-term: worsening of asthma symptoms, increased frequency of medical events (including death) in people with heart or lung disease, shortness of breath;
Long-term: increased risk of lung disease and heart attack, increased susceptibility to infections, worsening of respiratory disease symptoms.
Short-term: decreased alertness, vision problems, chest pain, and shortness of breath in people with cardiovascular disease;
The long-term effects of low-level carbon monoxide exposure are poorly understood and unclear.
Short-term: serious worsening of asthma symptoms, including airway restriction; at high levels of exposure, even people without asthma may experience these symptoms.
Prolonged: exacerbation of asthma and other respiratory symptoms.
Air quality and your health
Good air quality is vital for high cognitive performance in both adults and children. Studies have shown a significant correlation between indoor air quality and the ability of people to concentrate and learn - poor air quality reduces productivity at work by 10%, and school performance by 11%.
Poor air quality in the workplace leads to typical symptoms that can easily and mistakenly be attributed to something other than the air - you feel tired with cold symptoms, your ability to explain yourself decreases, as does your typing speed. Poor air quality can reduce productivity by up to 10%.
In work and learning spaces, where people's well-being, comfort, and productivity are a priority, the need for clean air is obvious. Investments in quality indoor air can be compared, for example, to ergonomic office furniture. In the long run, they ensure people's health and productivity and prevent illness and related costs. From an investment standpoint, the most effective solution is to ensure high air quality at all stages of a building's life cycle.
In education, poor air quality leads to slower learning speeds and lower proficiency test scores. In some cases, schools with polluted air have seen declines of up to 11%. And while everyone is affected, children with asthma are most at risk because they are more sensitive to polluted air, experience severe symptoms, and are more likely to miss classes. Some studies even say that polluted air can have a long-term effect on children's brain development.
Stamina and the ability to perform at peak performance in compressed times suffer if you don't breathe clean air. Read our article on air quality and athletic performance. Some studies show an incredible 16% drop in athletic performance when air pollution reaches 50µg/m3.
Ways to Fight Pollution
One of the most effective ways to combat pollution is a comprehensive air purification and disinfection (CTP) technology that combines mechanical, electrostatic, aerosol, photocatalytic, and adsorption-catalytic filtration. Such a device might be hard to find and even if you do it will be expensive. For home, all you need is a purifier with HEPA filter, UV lamp, and Ozonator, Breeze 2 Air Purifier for example.
Most experts recommend installing the device in the room where the person sleeps, for whom you purchased this device - someone who suffers from allergies, asthma, or a child for whom the device was advised to buy a pediatrician. There are two reasons for this recommendation:
People spend most of the time in the bedroom;
While sleeping, the body is most sensitive to all kinds of viruses, bacteria, and other pollutants.
Moreover, you should not move the device from one room to another, as the device needs some time to establish a favorable allergenic background and successfully maintain it in the future.
So, having chosen a room, the second question arises, in what specific place to install the device? The task of the purifier is to force the air through a system of filters, so it should stand in an open place, where the best air circulation is ensured. You can put the purifier on the floor, but exclude access to the device for children, on a table, or a bureau. It is also worth considering that most purifiers make audible noise, so you should not place the unit directly near the bed.
In addition, the cleaner is not recommended to be put near the heating devices, as overheating can cause the device malfunction. It is also not recommended to place the cleaner on a window sill.
In addition to these recommendations, there are also many requirements for safe operation, all of which can be found in the instructions for the unit.