Air Quality, Air Pollution...And Why You Should Be Concerned.

Did You Know...that the EPA Has Ranked Air Quality and Pollution of Indoor Air in the Top 5 Environmental Risks to Our Health? 

In 2009, the EPA published its review of air quality and pollution as it relates to indoor air, and clearly identified indoor air in the top 5 risks to our health (read the EPA article here).  And it's even more true now.  Allergies and asthma have been increasing for the last 30 years--with new industrial activities, more people on the planet, more 'stuff' in the air, it makes sense that our outside air would become more polluted. But the real issue is the air quality and pollution in our homes and offices. Since there is nothing our bodies have greater exposure to than the air we breathe, that makes indoor air quality a serious issue.

Think about it like this: the average person today inhales over 3000 gallons of air each day and spends at least 90% of their time indoors--so that's 2700 gallons of air you're breathing that's almost always polluted with dust and chemical residues. And dust isn't just 'dust'. Normal house dust is composed of dust mites (dust mites are the #1 strongest allergen known to man), mold spores, bacteria, viruses, smoke (and related tobacco chemicals, if there has been a smoker in the area). So if we're spending the majority of our time indoors, and there are no air purifiers, nothing to trap these particles (even chemical / gaseous elements), we breathe them in continuously. And over time, those particles accumulate and cause things like allergies, headaches, fatigue, eye / nose / throat irritation, insomnia, even depression and more serious chronic health conditions. 

In fact, a growing number of people are experiencing a whole list of symptoms that seem to be some kind of 'mystery illness' or something doctors can't quite accurately diagnose.  Take a look at this list of symptoms and ask yourself: Do you tend to have any of these symptoms on a fairly regular basis?  Are they more pronounced when I am at home, the office or some other enclosed space where I spend time?

headache
nausea
irritability
memory loss
depression
eye irritations
nose irritations
throat irritations
skin irritations
sinus infection
sneezing
coughing
colds

allergies
asthma
viruses
flu
sleeplessness
MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity)
fatigue
dizziness
sinus infection
ear infection
respiratory infection
lightheadedness
hypersensitivity

The GOOD NEWS is that in many cases,  the poor air quality problem in your home, room, or  office can almost always be solved by using a high-quality air cleaner with HEPA and carbon filters that remove 99.97% of the pollutants (dust, mold spores, pet dander, bacteria, viruses, chemicals, etc) that are causing the problem. And if your doctor prescribes that portable air purifier, insurance may even cover the cost.  But let's talk about indoor air for a minute and answer a few common questions:

You may ask: 'Why is air quality and pollution more of an issue indoors than outdoors?' That's because indoor air in circulating in the same enclosed space, which allows the concentration of irritants, allergens, and other pollutants to be much higher than outdoor air.  Particles and chemicals also get 'stored' on the walls, ceilings, in carpets, rugs, furniture, and tons of other places that are difficult to clean. And when blows by them, these particles get released back into the air. 

Even if you have a good filter in your heating and cooling system, it still does not get it all. Why? 

1) because many times we breathe in those airborne particles before the heating and cooling system can cycle them through the filter, 

2) because most of the problem-causing particles are too small to be caught by even the best HVAC filter, and, 

3) there are tons of pollutants stuck to the inside walls of the duct work that constantly blow out into our rooms, which proves that the HVAC filter could not remove them or they wouldn't be in the duct work on the output side of the air conditioner. 

That is why a quality HEPA air cleaner is so effective--they use true HEPA filters that CAN stop those tiny particles down at the 0.1-0.3 micron range and chemicals, gases, & vapors if the filter(s) include activated carbon. Without a good air cleaner, over time we breathe in more and more of those tiny particles and gases that slip through, which could explain why some allergy symptoms do seem to get worse with time. Here are a few more facts about air quality and pollution as it relates to indoor air:

  • The American College of Allergists says, "50% of all illness is aggravated or caused by polluted indoor air."
  • The EPA in a report to Congress stated that "Indoor air represents one of the most important problems based on an estimated population risk."
  • The American Medical Association has concluded, "air pollution can affect not only the lungs, but virtually every organ and system of the body."

So many times we do not think about indoor air quality as being a cause of illness, but more research is showing that the build up of pollutants does contribute to different illnesses, allergies, etc. How many people are taking medications when cleaning up their household air would eliminate the problem?

Don't think you're breathing any chemicals?  Consider the smells associated with cleaning products, laundry products, solvents, paints, varnishes, correction fluids, copiers, fuels, dry cleaned clothing, cosmetics, hair care products, nail salons and related products. All those smells are airborne chemicals being released into the air and even if they do not cause irritation in the short term, they have been shown to cause issues in the medium to long term time frames.And every time we open that drawer, cabinet, bottle, or door where these chemicals are, we get a fresh dose of them.If you have unexplained headaches or other types of respiratory / eye / skin irritations, consider the possibility of airborne chemicals as a possible cause. Want to know for sure what's floating around in your air? Get an air test kit and see!

If you work in an environment where there you have smoke or chemical fumes released on a regular basis, it's highly recommended that someone address the situation--the business owner, or yourself if you have the authority. Occupations such as welding, laser engraving, lab assistants, steel manufacturing or other industrial situations all put the worker in an environment where breathing harmful chemicals happens on a regular basis.Some will say 'we're compliant with OSHA', or 'it's not enough to hurt you'. Well, over time, it IS enough to hurt you, with some chemicals literally build up in the system and cause permanent damage to the lungs,  brain, heart, and other organs, ultimately resulting in a reduced lifespan. If your employer will not pay attention, call OSHA (look up OSHA on Google) yourself and have them investigate. You could be saving your life and the lives of other workers.

And let's not forget about the dangers of second-hand smoke. If you a breathing second hand smoke, you are 60% more likely to develop coronary heart disease. It's now being considered the same as light smoking by many health professionals. If you don't smoke, you don't want to breathe this stuff if you can avoid it. Believe it or not, for each hour you are standing in a smoky bar or restaurant, that is equal to smoking 4 cigarettes. Wow. Didn't know you smoked? Well, you might be a light smoker if you spend a lot of time in smoky environments!

In conclusion, the issue of air quality and pollution indoors, in most cases, can be eliminated with the right kind of air purification equipment. There are air purifiers and cleaners for just about every application now--even some, such as Aller Air, that have custom-blended carbon filters that will remove specific chemicals, if needed. Here are a few air purifiers and air test kits that we highly recommend for home, office, and even industrial applications:

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