As Central Valley residents we know the risks to our health associated with poor outdoor air quality. We also know how to keep ourselves informed as to when we are at highest risk, and know to limit our activity outdoors and stay indoors on those occasions.
However, many of us don't realize that indoor air can be more polluted than air outdoors.
As is the case with poor outdoor air quality, poor indoor air quality can cause, or contribute to, a variety of immediate adverse health effects and a host of chronic illnesses.
Immediate health effects can include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headaches; dizziness; fatigue; and aggravation or worsening of asthma. Long term effects include chronic respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer.
Indoor air pollution comes primarily in the form of:
- Tobacco smoke
- Mold -- the spores are ever-present in our environment, but concentrate indoors when allowed to multiply on damp surfaces
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted from a variety of household products (such as cleaning agents, air fresheners, and scented candles), paints, pressed wood, and carpeting.
Consider taking these measures to protect yourself and your family from the adverse health effects of poor indoor air quality:
- Do not allow anyone to smoke or vape in your home
- Open your home to outside air on good air quality days
- Avoid, or limit, such activities as painting, welding, or soldering indoors (and ventilate those spaces well when these activities cannot be avoided)
- Remedy any area of water leaks, dampness, or excessive humidity
- Use exhaust fans when cooking, showering, and when using cleaning products
- Request that building materials and carpets be aired out in a well ventilated area for 72 hours prior to installation
- Avoid air fresheners and scented candles
- Choose safe alternatives to cleaning products such as warm water and soap, baking soda for scrubbing, and vinegar and water for glass
- Vent clothes dryers and check the vent regularly
- Clean or replace furnace and air conditioning filters regularly
- Limit wood burning