Indoor Air Pollutants and Asthma
We are faced with many health risks as we go about with our daily lives. These risks all pose varying degrees of risk. Some risks are simply unavoidable, and we choose to accept them because to do other wise would not allow us to live our lives the way we want. Sometimes, we can avoid them, however, indoor air pollution and exposure to hazardous substances in our homes are some of the risks we can do something about.
In the last few years, there has been mounting scientific evidence that indicates that the air within our homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than outdoor air.
People who are exposed to indoor air pollutants for longer periods are more susceptible to their effects, these include the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill – especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
Indoor Air Pollutants
There are many types of indoor air pollution in the modern home. Levels can increase if there is not enough outdoor air brought into the home to dilute the emissions from indoor sources and to carry air pollutants out of the home. High temperatures and humidity can increase the concentration of some pollutants. There are two types of indoor pollutants: biological and chemical
What are biological pollutants?
These include bacteria, molds, viruses, animal dander, cat saliva, dust mites, cockroaches, and pollen – these can be related to some serious health effects. Some, such as, measles, chickenpox, and influenza are transmitted in the air – thankfully, there are vaccinations for measles and chickenpox. Influenza is still a major concern in crowded indoor conditions – they can also be worsened if the level of ventilation in a home are poor.
Pollen comes from plants and can cause you to have sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, fever, and digestive problems. These allergic reactions can be caused by repeated exposure.
Does indoor air quality affect Asthma?
In short, yes. Asthmatic responses to pollutants can be life threatening. Asthma is a chronic disease that effects breathing airways; it can cause wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing.
There are only two types of asthma, but most people do not fall into either or, but somewhere in between.
Extrinsic Asthma (Allergic): these have known causes: dust mites, various pollens, grass or weeds, or pet dander. When exposed to these triggers, your body produces an excess number of antibodies.
Intrinsic Asthma (Nonallergic): these also have a known cause, however, the correlation between the cause and the symptoms are not clearly understood. There is usually no excess of antibodies, usually starts in adulthood – but without a family history of asthma. Some of the triggers are cold and flu viruses, exercise and cold air, industrial and occupational pollutants, food additives and preservatives, drugs, and emotional stress.
It is important to note that asthma is more common in children than adults. To learn more about asthma in Canada, please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/asthma.html