Air pollution is responsible for approximately 7 million deaths every year, or 1 in 8 premature deaths annually. This is according to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO). This makes air pollution one of the largest global health risks comparable to smoking, obesity and cardiovascular disease. As such, poor air quality resulting from human activities is a very serious problem around the globe. Here is a brief overview of the effects of poor air quality.
Effect on Human Health
Many modern homes and office buildings are often tightly sealed to save energy costs. However, poor ventilation and potential accumulation of indoor air pollutants offsets this advantage. Some of these pollutants include tobacco smoke, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, radon gas, lead, asbestos, pesticide residue, volatile Organic Compounds (VoCs) and ozone.
The health effects from poor air quality fall into two categories: those that people experience in the short term and those that may take years to manifest. The lung is the most notable site of negative impact of airborne pollutants. However, some effects may include non-respiratory symptoms and signs. This often depends on the type of pollutant and various other factors.
Nitrates and Sulfates cause inflammation of the airways, respiratory tract damage and eye irritation. Tobacco smoke, aside from being the leading cause of Lung cancer, can result in headaches, eye irritation, nasal congestion and wheezing coughs. It can also cause or worsen Asthma and bronchitis in children and individuals with a compromised immune system.
Volatile Organic Compounds are chemical found in paints, lacquers, cleaning supplies, varnishes and building materials. They evaporate into the air during use or even storage. VoCs cause irritation in the eyes, nasal passages, and throat. They can also cause nausea and headaches as well as damage the kidneys, liver and central nervous system (CNS). Some of these compounds can cause various cancers. Combustion pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, lethargy, shortness of breath, increased risk of respiratory infection and even death.
People who experience poor air quality are more likely to have allergic reactions and infectious illnesses. Long-term exposure to poor air quality can significantly affect lung function and cause breathing complications. It may also lead to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. The effects are more so profound in people with pre-existing lung and heart conditions.
Effects on Life Expectancy
The effects of poor air quality on life expectancy and mortality rates are profound. WHO estimates an average life expectancy reduction of 8.6 months in areas that are considered relatively unpolluted.
Highly polluted cities have mortality rates that are 15 to 20% higher than those in less polluted cities are. In addition, for every increase in pollution by 10 micrograms per cubic meter in a region, the mortality rates within the region increases by 0.3% every day.
This data is very worrying considering the fact that indoor air quality is generally worse than ambient(outdoor) air quality. The reason for this is that construction and maintenance materials are a major source of air pollutants. Homes and offices are also known to have poor ventilation.
Overall, poor air quality has a negative impact on short and long-term health. Homes and office buildings are especially prone to poor air quality due to poorly maintained and operated ventilation systems.
The good news is that you can take steps to improve air quality. One of those steps is contacting Dove AC. We have a wide range of products and services that will improve your commercial or residential Indoor Air Quality.