Top 10 Indoor Air Pollutants and How to Eliminate Them

You spend most of your time indoors, right? That’s the case for the vast majority of us — life is largely made up of lots of work, typically in an office setting, and very little play. We all have to pay our bills, but there’s a big problem lurking that most of us don’t notice, until, perhaps, it rears its ugly head: The indoor air is heavily polluted — far more than the air outside. What are the most common indoor air pollutants? What impact do they have on the human body? What can you do to protect yourself and the people around you?


This blog will answer these questions and more.


The Top 10 Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants


According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some of the most abundant indoor air pollutants include:


  1. Asbestos.
  2. Biological pollutants.
  3. Carbon monoxide (CO).
  4. Cookstoves.
  5. Formaldehyde.
  6. Lead.
  7. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
  8. Pesticides.
  9. Radon.
  10. Indoor particulate matter.

Let’s talk about each of these briefly.


1. Asbestos


Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made of thin fibers that almost look like little needles. There are six different types of asbestos. It’s resistant to heat, electricity, and corrosion. This is why it’s widely used in construction and the military. For instance, it used to be used for insulation and as a fire retardant. Breathing in asbestos fibers can increase the risk of diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and cancers of the digestive system (like colon cancer). 


2. Biological Pollutants


Biological pollutants are produced by living things and include bacteria, viruses, dust, dust mites, pollen, animal dander, and cat saliva. Exposure can aggravate the symptoms of asthma and bronchitis, trigger allergies, zap your energy, cause a fever, and even leave you with digestive problems.


 

 

3. Carbon Monoxide (CO)


Carbon monoxide is a gas with no taste, color, or odor. It can accumulate in your home from burning fuels like gas, wood, propane, or charcoal. Carbon monoxide poisoning is when CO builds up in the blood, causing the body to replace the oxygen in red blood cells with CO. This can cause significant tissue damage and even death. 


4. Cookstoves


Again, this is about burning fuels in the home. Exposure increases the risk of pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), respiratory infections, lung cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Pregnant women exposed to this indoor air pollutant are at an increased risk for stillbirth and low birth weight.


5. Formaldehyde


Formaldehyde is colorless, flammable, and strong-smelling. It’s commonly used in building materials and also in fungicides, germicides, and disinfectants. Additionally, it’s a common preservative. Exposure can cause various types of cancer.


6. Lead


Lead is a naturally occurring metal found all through the earth. In the past, it was also commonly used in paint, pipes, and other building materials. However, the federal government started phasing it out in 1973 and eliminated it by 1996 after learning how bad it is for our health. It can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney damage, stillbirth, premature birth, and low birth weight. 


7. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)


When fossil fuels are burned at high temperatures, they create nitrogen dioxide. It plays a role in the creation of ozone. Exposure to NO2 can cause inflammation of the airways, coughing/wheezing, reduced lung function, and asthma attacks.


8. Pesticides


You probably already know what pesticides are, but did you know that they’re not just dangerous to bugs? Exposure has been linked to chronic diseases including different types of cancer, neurological disorders, developmental delays in kids, and problems with reproductive capacity and infertility. 


9. Radon


Radon is a radioactive gas that has no color, smell, or taste. While it’s released from bedrock material and ends up in the soil, it can find its way into homes and other buildings. When you inhale radon, the particles can get trapped in your lungs. This can eventually lead to lung tissue damage and lung cancer.


10. Indoor Particulate Matter (PM)


Particulate matter is a combination of solid and/or liquid particles in the air. They can be different sizes, shapes, and compositions. While it’s almost always found indoors, too much exposure can damage your heart and lungs. It can also irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.


While these might be the more common indoor air pollutants, this list certainly isn’t exhaustive. Beyond these pollutants, we must also consider tobacco smoke, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and wood smoke — dangers air pollutants that some of us are exposed to every day.


 

 

How to Protect Yourself Against Indoor Air Pollutants


Of course, the best plan of attack is to avoid releasing these pollutants into the air to begin with, when possible. For example, avoid smoking, keep your home clean to avoid dust, and refrain from using products that contain VOCs, like certain personal care products and, ironically, cleaning products.


However, it probably goes without saying that no matter how mindful you are, you’re still going to be exposed to these indoor air pollutants. 


This is where air purification technology can help. An air purifier built with a pre-filter, medical-grade HEPA 13 filter, activated carbon filter, and UV-C light can help to capture and neutralize up to 99.97% of the dangerous particles floating through the air of your home. A quality air purifier will monitor the air quality in real time and tell you when to change the filter so that it can continue functioning optimally.


The Sans air purifier is whisper quiet and auto-runs as needed, so whether you’re working, sleeping, or playing with your kids, it’ll do its work without ever disturbing you. Looking for something more compact? Try the Sans mini!


While the world might be full of pollutants that threaten our health, in the walls of your home, you have a choice. Leverage air purification to keep you and your family safe.