"...look into all things with a searching eye” - Baha'u'llah (Prophet Founder of the Baha'i Faith)


Mar 24, 2013

Which pollutants lead to indoor air pollution?

Indoor air pollution, also known as "tight building syndrome," results from conditions in modern, high energy efficiency buildings, which have reduced outside air exchange, or have inadequate ventilation, chemical contamination, and microbial contamination. Indoor air pollution can produce various symptoms, such as headache, nausea, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. In addition houses are affected by indoor air pollution emanating from consumer and building products and from tobacco smoke.
Below are listed some pollutants found in houses: 

Sources: Old or damaged insulation, fireproofing, or acoustical tiles.
Effects: Many years later, chest and abdominal cancers and lung diseases

Biological pollutants 
Sources: Bacteria, mold and mildew, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, mites, cockroaches, and pollen.
Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; shortness of breath; dizziness; lethargy; fever; digestive problems; asthma; influenza and other infectious diseases

Carbon monoxide 
Sources: Unvented kerosene and gas heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; wood stoves and fireplaces; gas stoves; automobile exhaust from attached garages; tobacco smoke.
Effects: At low levels, fatigue at higher levels, impaired vision and coordination; headaches; dizziness; confusion; nausea; Fatal at very high concentrations


Sources: Plywood, wall paneling, particle board, fiber-board; foam insulation; fire and tobacco smoke; textiles, and glues.
Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritations; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions; may cause cancer

Sources: Automobile exhaust; sanding or burning of lead paint; soldering.
Effects: Impaired mental and physical development in children; decreased coordination and mental abilities; kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells damage

Sources: Some latex paints.
Effects: Vapors can cause kidney damage; long-term exposure can cause brain damage

Nitrogen dioxide 
Sources: Kerosene heaters, unvented gas stoves and heaters; tobacco smoke.
Effects: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; may impair lung function and increase respiratory infections in young children.  (The Handy Science Answer Book, compiled by the Science and Technology department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)