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The Importance of Indoor Air Quality

Posted in Air Quality, on March 27, 2017

The link between air quality and health is well known, but a recent study found that air pollutants and poor indoor air quality might make a bigger contribution to cognitive decline and diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s than previously thought.

While there are many factors leading to the growth of disease, this study showed strong evidence that poor indoor air quality and long-term exposure to airborne pollutants was a major contributing factor in the development of cognitive decline in older adults - signifying the importance of clean air. In one study, women between the ages of 65-79 who lived in areas with poor air quality were found to have a four times higher risk of developing cognitive decline than women living in areas with better air quality. They found this lead to a 92% higher chance of developing dementia. Because we spend 90% of our time indoors, having good (or bad) indoor air quality can have a significant effect on your long-term health. Because of this extensive exposure to potential contaminants, your indoor air quality can have a greater effect on your health than sitting in traffic on the highway does.

In another study, University of Southern California neuroscientists found that mice that breathed exhaust-filled air had brains full of the kind of inflammatory molecules that are linked to memory loss. Researchers in Ontario noted that people who lived within 50 meters of a major roadway had a 7% higher risk of developing dementia, suggesting that air pollution and poor indoor air quality were having a serious effect on their brains. While indoor air quality is one factor that could contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s, the link between respiratory illnesses like lung cancer or asthma and poor air quality has been established for decades.

While governments and regulators need to make the big changes, you can improve the indoor air quality of your home and help reduce your risk. Indoor air quality can be affected by dust, VOCs, pesticides, fine particulate matter, as well as chemicals used in and around your home or office. These particles travel through your nose and, as in the study with the mice, end up in your brain. While research continues on the links between pollution, air quality, and the human brain, you can make a big difference in your indoor air quality by routinely caring for your HVAC systems and proactively monitoring the conditions in your home. Improving your indoor air quality is of great importance, but doesn’t need to be fancy: one of the easiest ways to improve your indoor air quality is to keep the filter on your HVAC system clean and to replace it often.

The World Health Organization suggests that air pollution, including poor indoor air quality, “contributes to approximately 2.6 million premature deaths each year.” Outdoor pollutants can enter your home through cracks, hidden holes, or your air conditioning system, and can build up to toxic levels, causing the indoor air quality of your home to suffer.  Dust, VOCs, or molds can be easily detected by professional testing, which can also ascertain whether your indoor air quality is being affected by humidity, inadequate ventilation, water damage or mold growth. Other easy steps, like ensuring you are using proper ventilation and safety techniques when doing renovations, painting, or installing appliances can have a big effect on your indoor air quality and the levels of toxic buildup in your home.

The importance of good indoor air quality has never been more essential for the health of you and your family. Making improvements to your indoor air quality can have both short and long term affects, and having the experts at SafeAir identify and address your indoor air quality concerns can help you create a safe environment indoors.

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