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Allergies due to inferior indoor air quality: causes and
measures to prevent it

October 20, 2022

The indoor environment plays an important role in human health. There is a lot of literature describing how indoor air pollutants contribute greatly to the triggering of allergic responses and the development of asthma. The prevalence of allergic diseases in most industrialised countries has risen. Although the accurate mechanisms behind this rapid increase in prevalence remain uncertain, various air pollutants have been attracting attention as one causative factor. Epidemiological and toxicological research implies a causative relationship between air pollution and the increased incidence of asthma, allergic rhinitis, and other allergic disorders.
The harm to human tissue by polluting gases depends on their solubility in water, concentration, capacity to oxidise tissues and the vulnerability of the affected person. For example, sulphur Dioxide (SO2) is highly soluble in water and, to a large extent, damages the upper airways and the skin, while Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Ozone (O3) are less soluble and, therefore, can penetrate more deeply into the lung.
Many studies have been performed to specify the hazardous effects of air pollution on allergic diseases like – asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis (AD). Furthermore, since inhalation is the primary pathway for air pollutants to affect the human body, many studies have studied the relationship between asthma and indoor air quality.

Effects of suspended particulate matter

Due to the extensive evidence of health effects, the average daily and annual concentrations of air particulate matter, PM10 and PM2.5, are regulated as per the World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality guidelines and norms in many countries. The fine particles (PM2.5) enter the pulmonary alveoli and are readily caught by cells and transported via the bloodstream.
Toxic elements may be present on the surface of the particles and be accountable for tissue damage. Thus, exposure to pollutants, including toxic metals, organic compounds, and gases, in addition to plaguing organs and causing direct harm, can cause raised levels of markers of airway inflammation.
Some common pollutants include:

Radon

Radon, a radioactive natural gas, can seep through crevices in the earth and build up in living spaces, leading to health problems.

Second-hand smoke

Second-hand smoke means breathing in exhaled cigarette smoke. Anyone inhaling second-hand smoke may have a higher risk of developing health concerns. The best way to keep second and third-hand smoke out of your living space is to avoid smoking indoors. It is also a healthy habit to eliminate smoking altogether since third-hand smoke on your clothes may still affect indoor air security.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a common volatile organic compound, or VOC — one of the many toxic gasses sometimes emitted by everyday household items. Formaldehyde, commonly found in glues used in composite wood and many types of furniture, can be found in the indoor air. Too much exposure can cause respiratory issues, including bronchitis.

Cleaning products

Some cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that may remain in the air, including:

  • glass cleaners
  • air fresheners
  • bleach
  • cleaning sprays

Choosing safer, non-toxic cleaning products can help you keep your space clean without the harmful pollutants seen in some standard cleaning products.

Ways to improve air quality

Improving indoor air quality can help you avoid asthma flare-ups and allergy symptoms and keep you breathing easily through the colder months.
While it is presumably not feasible to eliminate all the allergens inside the living space, one can decrease the number — and the exposure to them — by making some simple changes.
Clean spaces: A clean house is healthier because good indoor hygiene can significantly reduce dust and animal dander.

Reduce the use of Indoor plants:  Indoor plants can be helpful, but they can also collect and foster mould growth and be an allergy trigger for many people.

Change air filters:  Regular cleaning of air ducts to remove trapped dust and checking air filters is recommended to keep allergies at bay.

Invest in an air security device:  A suitable air security device can be placed in the most commonly used areas of the house. These devices can help eliminate irritants that may trigger allergic symptoms. In addition, it also helps prevent mould growth.
A medley of factors can impact the air quality in one’s living space and contribute to a range of short- and long- term health effects.
Testing indoor air quality can help in understanding air quality in our spaces. From there, it will be easier to prevent and reduce specific problem pollutants and help create optimum air quality and minimise any associated health risks.

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