Indoor Air Quality Facts & Statistics

In our homes, the air quality is often worse than what we breathe outdoors. Statistics show that an average person spends 90% of their time indoors and can suffer from asthma, allergies, and other respiratory illnesses. And since the air we inhale directly impacts our well-being, understanding it in detail is crucial.

Whether we’re at home or in the office, the air we breathe matters. Unfortunately, many people don’t think about indoor air quality until they feel sick. So I’ve rounded up the top indoor air quality statistics you must know.

Measuring Indoor Air Quality Stats

What Is Indoor Air Pollution?

Indoor air pollution is created when there are too many airborne particles, like dust, mold, bacteria, viruses, and toxins. These particles can come from various sources inside and outside the home. Some examples of indoor sources include cooking stoves, wood-burning fireplaces, cleaning products, tobacco smoke, and pet dander. Outdoor sources include vehicle exhaust fumes, smog, and pollen.

What Causes Indoor Air Problems?

Indoor air problems can be caused by inadequate ventilation, spills, pets, smoke, cleaning products, mold, and radon gas. These can lead to health problems like asthma, headaches, and even respiratory disease. When rooms are not properly ventilated, airborne contaminants can build up to levels that harm your health.

Another common cause of indoor air problems is off-gassing from building materials and furnishings. These materials release pollutants into the air, triggering allergies and other respiratory problems. Improperly used cleaning products and chemicals can also cause indoor air problems.

When these products are used improperly or excessively, they can release harmful vapors into the air, which can cause respiratory irritation and other adverse health effects. The best way to combat indoor air problems is to identify its source and do effective health risk management.

Air conditioning for extended periods and low building air quality can also contribute to carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, and other toxic gasses.

Top Indoor Air Quality Statistics

You may not realize it, but the air you breathe inside your home or office could be more polluted than the air outside. Here is a summary of the most important indoor air quality facts in numbers:

  • According to the WHO approximately 3.2 million deaths per year are caused by household air pollution, primarily due to the use of solid fuels for cooking and heating.
  • Approximately 1.5 million deaths per year are caused by tobacco smoke, which is a major contributor to indoor air pollution.
  • Studies have shown that the levels of indoor air pollutants can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels, and in some cases, even higher.
  • In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air pollution causes or contributes to the development of as many as 50% of all illnesses.
  • In the US, the EPA also estimates that indoor air pollution is responsible for approximately 25% of all respiratory illnesses.

I will cover these concerning indoor air quality statistics more deeply:

1. Over 40% of Americans Live In Areas With Highly Polluted Air

The American Lung Association estimates that over 40% of Americans live where the outdoor air quality is considered unhealthy. That means roughly 137 million people are at risk for health problems due to breathing in polluted air, often caused by gas-powered vehicles and industrial factories.

If you live in a heavily populated area, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks and take steps to protect yourself. The most common health problems associated with poor air quality are respiratory diseases, asthma, and allergies.

2. The EPA Ranks Indoor Air Pollution Among The Top Five Environmental Health Risks

The EPA ranks indoor air pollution among the top five environmental health risks, right up there with lead and asbestos. The problem is that many people don’t realize that their indoor level could be polluted because they can’t see or smell it.

However, some telltale signs indicate indoor air quality might not be as good as it should be. For example, if you or someone in your family is experiencing unexplained headaches, dizziness, or nausea, it could be due to poor indoor air quality. If you suspect your indoor air might not be as clean as it should be, consult a professional to have your home or office tested for pollutants.

3. Children And The Elderly Are Particularly Susceptible To The Effects Of Poor Air Quality

One of the most important indoor air quality statistics is that children and seniors are at a higher risk for health problems caused by poor indoor air quality problem. This is because their bodies are still developing, and they have weaker immune systems.

Additionally, children breathe more rapidly than adults, which means they take in more contaminants per unit of body weight. It’s good to avoid plastic toys or those made with chemical adhesives, as they may release harmful chemicals into the air. Instead, opt for natural materials like wood or wooden toys.

4. Household Cleaning Products Give Off Harmful Chemicals That Can Contaminate Indoor Air

While we all like to have a clean home, it’s important to be aware that many household cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that can contaminate indoor air. These chemicals are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can cause many health problems, including respiratory problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even cancer in humans (source).

You should use green cleaning products made with natural ingredients that don’t give off harmful VOCs. Also, you should ventilate your home for exposure risk management when using any kind of cleaner, natural or otherwise.

5. The Average Person Spends 90% Of Their Time Indoors, Making Exposure To Indoor Air Pollution A Major Health Concern

As our lives have become increasingly urbanized and industrialized, people spend a shockingly high 90% of their time indoors. This means that the average person, on any given day, is exposed predominantly to indoor air pollution sources.

Unlike outdoor air pollution, which can be avoided or limited through specific measures, exposure to indoor air pollutants is mainly unavoidable. It can even be greater than the levels found outdoors.

Unfortunately, these toxic airborne pollutants come from everyday sources such as cleaning products, dust mites, mold, pet dander, cigarette smoke, or burning solid fuels like coal or wood. Even everyday items, such as furniture and fabric, can contain traces of hazardous chemicals that may be released into the air over time.

Related article: Which Rooms Have The Worst Indoor Air Quality In Your Home?

6. The EPA Says That The Air Inside Our Homes Is, On Average, 2-5 Times More Polluted Than The Air Outside

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has long warned that indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air in cities and towns, with poor ventilation increasing this risk even further. This is particularly true during winter when windows are kept closed for long periods, and indoor environments have higher humidity levels.

Strangely enough, long exposure times to everyday household items like cleaning products, paint, solvents, carpeting, and furniture can act as sources of indoor pollutants – effectively trapping any fumes and odors they generate inside our walls. If we want to solve our better outdoor and indoor air quality problems, we should take the initiative today instead of waiting for tomorrow.

Related article: Air Purifiers That Effectively Remove Radon Gas

Rounding Up

It is clear that there can be various risks to our indoor air quality. From volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide poisoning to mold and mildew, many of these pollutants can lead to detrimental health outcomes for occupants in our homes and buildings. That’s why it’s vitally important to take steps to ensure the health of your indoor air.

Therefore, we need to use our knowledge from this overview of indoor air quality statistics to motivate us to take proactive steps toward improving the safety of our indoor environment. Your health and well-being depend on it! With today’s technology and knowledge, you can choose effective solutions that promote healthy air for all who live and work indoors.

Indoor Air Quality Facts & Statistics Infographic

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