Now that we know what affects Indoor Air Quality, how does IAQ affect our health? After all, that’s the only reason we care at all about what exactly is looming around in the air of our homes and offices anyways, right?
I once saw a tombstone that read “I told you I wasn’t sick.” You have to appreciate someone still trying to make us laugh after they’re gone from this earth. My point is this: Not everything that makes us sick can be seen or explained. We expose ourselves to things that make us sick every day without even knowing it. But once we know what makes us sick, it seems logical that we would avoid making contact with it. So why don’t we do this when it comes to contaminated indoor air?
I learned this week that the month of May is national Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month (www.aafa.org), so I felt even more inspired to learn about how indoor air quality can take a toll on us and our loved ones. This can obviously include those with asthma and allergies, but also affects anyone who is breathing indoor air.
In the past few weeks I’ve learned that poor indoor air quality can affect a person immediately after being exposed or over long periods of time. So not only is it easy to ignore the impact of breathing polluted air because the problem is invisible, but also because its affects may not be felt for many years. So what do I mean by immediate effects? Things like eye, nose and throat irritation are common symptoms. So are headaches and dizziness - even fatigue - all caused by poor indoor air quality. Symptoms of some diseases may also immediately show up or intensify when exposed to poor IAQ. According to the US EPA, these effects can be made worse by an inadequate amount of outdoor air or from the heating, cooling, or humidity conditions in a home. Crazy, right!?
In addition to the way this can affect us on a day-to-day basis, health concerns can also show up years after repeated exposure to poor IAQ. Some of the serious health problems include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer. I’ve learned that every person reacts very differently to indoor air pollutants, but that there is risk to us all.
Builders have to get away from the ‘what they don’t know won’t hurt them’ approach or hiding behind weak building codes. Compromise somewhere else - homes should be built as healthy as they can be. Because we now know that what homeowners don’t know definitely can hurt them.
There are too many risks and dangers to not take IAQ seriously. Why don’t more people know about this, and how can we inform the people we care about? If you would like to learn even more, please visit www.epa.gov or the UltimateAir Facebook page.