In a hot tropical climate like Singapore’s, it is a constant challenge for homeowners to keep heat and humidity levels down. A high indoor temperature, high humidity level and poor ventilation is a hotbed for mold and bacteria to thrive, and it’s the perfect recipe for unhealthy indoor air quality all year round.
That, and the multitude of different air pollution we create on a daily basis – the exhaust from your car, cigarette smoke, the fumes from all the chemical products used around the house, smoke from cooking, and the fumes from your garden’s pesticides – can come together to seriously contaminate the air we breathe in every day. Picture all of those pollutants concentrated into one small space – the air inside your home. Left unchecked, the air in your home could be full of pollutants, each capable of causing undesirable health effects.
Indoor air pollution comes from many sources, from your new carpeting to your visiting uncle’s burning cigarette. The level of indoor pollution varies from home to home. Building materials give off less pollution with age; an older home typically has lower levels of air pollution than a newer one. On the other hand, new homes are asbestos-free, while older homes may have asbestos hidden behind walls and under floors.
Common sources of indoor air pollution
- Building materials – like the medium density fiberboard on your kitchen cabinets and the particle board on your home’s flooring- emit formaldehyde into the air of your home. This chemical is also present in paints, glues, permanent-press clothing, and draperies.
- Old lead-based paint releases small lead particles and lead-tainted dust into the air when it crumbles on the surface of your home’s walls and floors.
- Insecticides and disinfectants- whether in spray, liquid, or powder form – contain toxic chemicals designed to kill insects and microbes; many of these chemicals have a negative effect on humans, as well.
- Radon, a natural radioactive gas, also has a harmful effect on humans it is a leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
- Asbestos, a mineral fiber, can also cause lung cancer. A common insulation material in older homes, asbestos releases microscopic fibers into the air when disturbed.
- Many common household products such as paints, glues, permanent markers, and cleaning supplies contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemicals that are potentially toxic to humans.
- Biological pollutants- like mold, mildew, pet dander, and household dust – can cause all sorts of allergies for all family members living within a home’s four walls.
The air you breathe indoors might be contaminated with dangerous gases and particles that can have an adverse effect on your family’s health. When you come down with a cold or the flu, you retreat to the comfort of your own home to recuperate, and the last thing you want is a space that is making you feel more sick.
Do make it a point to keep your indoor air fresh and clean by identifying these common sources of indoor air pollutants, and try eliminating them as much as you can.