Is the Air In Your Home Making You Sick?
As we live through a pandemic, our health, air pollution, and the importance of protecting vulnerable populations have been placed at the forefront of our minds. Covid-19 has also exposed the need to protect ourselves from risks found both in and out of our homes.
A recent study Oct 26, 2020 found that long-term exposure to air pollution could be linked to 15% of global deaths from COVID-19.
While your home may seem like a safe place away from air pollutants, the opposite is actually true. The air in our homes is often 2 to 5 times more toxic than outdoor air. And yet, we often don’t think about indoor air quality when we consider the factors that influence our health and wellbeing. There are 84,000 chemicals in our everyday items - and yet only one percent of these have been tested for safety.
Environmental toxicity is a serious health concern that is usually not diagnosed. How it affects you may be different due to many multi-layered factors such as nutrition, lifestyle, genetics, stress, sleep, and other health conditions. It is important to be aware of your surrounding environment and possible sources of toxins as they accumulate in your body over time.
With so many different toxins in our world, it may seem overwhelming and hard to keep them all straight. But it is worth knowing about your indoor environment and what actions you can take in your own personal life. These environmental toxins affect our immune system, metabolism, hormones, and even our brain.
Toxic air inside your home may even be impacting your work performance, a 2016 Harvard Business Review article details how indoor air pollution can affect the productivity of adult office workers. A decreased level of air quality can lead to a 5% drop in productivity. While most of us are still working remotely from home, it is crucial to make sure your air at home is clean for your health and your work performance.
Further, symptoms caused by toxic air inside can have a larger impact on those who are 65+ years old. One study found that participants aged 60-75 saw an 8% increase in vascular function after filtering the air in their homes for just 2 days.
Toxic air has also been proven in numerous studies to have profound impacts on children living in houses with pollutants in the air. Such pollutants stem from many common household staples, such as a couch or vinyl flooring. Many sofas contain flame-retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) within the foam cushions. Children living in homes with couches containing PBDEs have a six-fold higher concentration of the toxin in their bloodstream. Neurodevelopmental delays, obesity, endocrine and thyroid disruption, cancer, and other diseases have all been linked to exposure to PBDEs.
Vinyl flooring contains the chemical benzyl butyl phthalate, which has been linked to respiratory disorders, skin irritations, multiple myeloma, and reproductive disorders. Children in homes with vinyl floors have 15 times higher rates of benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite in their urine than children in homes without.
Children are at higher risk of negative reactions to such toxic chemicals because they lack the enzymes needed to break down and expel such particles. Early developmental processes can also be easily disrupted by toxins they are exposed to. For these reasons, it is imperative to cleanse your home of toxins and look for early symptoms of exposure to air toxins.
While some of these symptoms can appear rapidly, most take years of repeated exposure to emerge.
Short term symptoms:
Itchy, dry, or irritated eyes
Runny or stuffy nose
Shortness of breath
Sinus congestion or infections
Long term risks:
Chronic inflammatory response syndrome
Luckily, it takes many years of repeated exposure for serious, long term side effects to develop and most are reversible. Even actions as simple as opening the windows in your home or keeping fans running can have profound effects on the air quality in your home. And if you take fast action, you can start to reverse the damage that has been done.
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