Outdoor and Indoor Air Pollution

Air pollution is a topic of concern these days. Air pollution is everywhere both indoors and outdoors. Air pollutants have deteriorated the ambient air quality. I have explained about Air Pollution in details in my previous post. The sources of air pollution is explained in another post. The types of air pollution has also been explained in my post.

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Another way to classify air pollution can be based on whether the air pollutants where present in the indoors or outdoors. Depending on this air pollution can be of two types:

  1. Outdoor Air Pollution
  2. Indoor Air Pollution

I am going to explain these topics in this post.

Outdoor Air Pollution: It is a type of air pollution that involves the particulate matters and other air pollutants outside a built environment such as on the streets, in our environment where construction work is going on and in parks and playgrounds.

Outdoor Air Pollutants include noxious gases emitted from automobiles and vehicles, gases released from burning fuels, particulate matters released at construction sites, ozone and tobacco smoke.

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WHO stated that outdoor air pollution is a serious environmental problem around the globe. According to a report published in WHO website, in 2016 outdoor air pollution was the cause of 4.2 million premature deaths on global scale. The major culprit behind this mortality is particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5). PM2.5 means the small particles that are of 2.5-micron diameter or less. These particulate matters are harmful if they enter human body causing respiratory diseases and even cancer. Outdoor air pollution is measured in terms of air quality index (AQI).

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Indoor Air Pollution: It is the air pollution that involves particulate matters and other gaseous pollutants present inside a closed environment such as in rooms, houses, apartments, schools. hotels, hospitals, restaurants, theater, etc.    

Indoor Air Pollutants include dust particles in houses, fur and other animal particles in houses having furry pets, tobacco smoke, smoke from fireplaces and chimneys, carbon dioxide released by people residing in the house, smell of paints and particles of asbestos, etc.

Indoor air pollution is also deleterious to human health. According to a report published on WHO website, people who cook food or even heat their homes by burning biomass fuels are at health risk. Burning biomass fuel and coal in a closed environment leads to premature deaths. This is also referred as household air pollution and sometimes also contributes to outdoor air pollution when smokes and particulate matter escape through open doors and windows. Household air pollution is a major cause of air pollution in low-income countries.

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Sometimes the indoor air is more polluted than the outdoor air. This happens where there are less air circulation and people live in confined spaces with poor cross ventilation. In such places the air circulation is restricted, and the air enclosed inside the house cannot come outside. Too little outside air causes accumulation of indoor air pollutants and reduce the indoor air quality. This leads to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is a disease where people experience ill health effects due to the indoor air pollutants and the symptoms vanishes if the affected person leaves the affected building or house. Wargocki and his colleagues in 2000 reported that good ventilation improves air circulation inside the building thereby reducing the SBS improving the indoor air quality. Thus, we should have proper ventilated houses that allow outside air to enter the house and vice versa.  

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It is shocking but sometimes indoor air pollution is dangerous than outdoor air pollution. According to the California Air Resources Board, indoor air pollutants is 25-62% more than the outside air pollutants and can be detrimental. The quality of indoor air is also associated with the performance of workers and people residing in that building. Wyon in 2004 found that removing the air pollutants from the office can improve the work efficiency of people working there.

The indoor and outdoor air pollution are related to each other. Scientists suggest that the quality of indoor air is largely affected by the outdoor environments. For example, if there is a construction site near a house, then the indoor air will have particles from that construction site too.

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Cigarette smoking is detrimental to health in both indoor and outdoor environments. Smoking should be restricted inside the house and at public places to reduce air pollution.

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Whether it is indoor air pollution or outdoor air pollution, air pollution is detrimental to human health. Air pollution causes respiratory diseases and other health related issues. Ambient indoor air quality is important for the well being of people residing there.

Preventive measures are taken by regulatory bodies and government agencies to regulate air pollution. Policies have been made by government agencies of different countries to control air pollution. Man-made activities should be controlled to regulate air pollution.

Air pollution is a huge topic. I will try to include one sub topic at a time. I hope this post will be informational to you.

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Stay Happy Stay Blessed

About Dr Namrata

A full time blogger, a freelancer, a scholar, a reader, a thinker and a responsible human being.

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