People need many things for good health. Is indoor fresh air one of them?
Doctors and scientists have known for a long time that the air that we breathe has a lot to do with our health. People living in smog- or smoke-filled cities often have a greater chance of breathing difficulties, upper respiratory problems and even some cancers.
When the air is bad outside in these cities, often the only remedy told to citizens is to, “…stay indoors.” But in many cases, without the use of a quality window fan bringing in fresh outside air, the air pollution inside a home could actually be worse than the air outside! What are the main polluters of inside air?
Cigarette and Cannabis Smoke
It is estimated that almost 20% of American adults smoke inside their homes. And with the increased legal use of Cannabis (Marijuana), especially indoors, these cause the most indoor air pollution. So it goes without saying, that people who smoke should probably invest in a window fan, air purifier fan, or air scrubber.
Cigarette smoke contains thousands of different chemicals, including over 40 cancer-causing (carcinogenic) agents. The ingredients in cigarette smoke include nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and even arsenic. Though many people may enjoy smoking Cannabis, the smoke from Cannabis may not be good for you or those around you.
Trash and Animal or Pet Poo Odors
Almost all people have indoor trash cans. And many people have pets. And most people have smelled either or both in our or others homes.
Trash often contains old food or leftover foods. If the trash is not taken out within 24 hours, this organic matter will begin the process of rot. Rotting food, especially meats, can contain not only very bad odors but also unhealthy chemicals like hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Hydrogen sulfide gas is made by the breakdown of organic matter, such as rotting food, by bacteria. The smell of hydrogen sulfide is often compared to rotten eggs. The gas doesn’t cause any disease, however, when the gas enters your bloodstream from your breathing, it attacks the human central nervous system. Exposure to small amounts can make people ill or even be fatal in higher concentrations.
People with pets also often have odor problems. Cat boxes, bird cages, dog urine and pet reptiles can all cause a home to smell and have bad odors. But are these pet odors harmful? In short, in many cases, yes! Indoor pet odors can be very harmful – especially for children. Cat urine contains high amounts of ammonia, a known unhealthy chemical if absorbed into the skin or inhaled into the lungs.
Dog or reptile dropping or poo often contain harmful bacteria. This bacteria can easily be inhaled. Bacterial infections such as Leptospirosis is caused by several closely related bacterial strains found in excrement.
New Carpet or Fresh Paint Smells
The smells of new paint or carpet often give use the feelings of “new” construction or “clean”. However, the chemical outgassing of these products can be harmful to people.
Indoor wall-to-wall carpet is a fairly new idea in America. Before the mid-1900’s, most floors in American homes were either dirt, wood or concrete. To soften these hard surfaces, people often places rugs on top of them. Rugs were often made with organic materials like wool or cotton.
However, today’s wall-to-wall carpeting contain many potentially harmful chemicals that contain to outgas (give off the smells and odors) long after it has been installed. Most carpeting contains chemicals like formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene, toluene and perchloroethylene. Once the carpet is installed (and in many cases for weeks or months afterwards) these chemicals can continue to be released into the air. These chemicals may cause nerve issues, headaches and nausea – sometimes even eye, throat and nose irritation.
New paint on the walls may look nice, but the paint contains chemicals that can enter the air you breathe. Paint chemicals include xylene, toluene, ethyl acetate, formaldehyde and methylene chloride. These chemicals may cause health problems, especially in the very young and old.
So, regardless the source, inside air can be just as harmful (or in some cases, more so) than outside air.