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The Importance of Air Quality


Breathing polluted air can make your eyes and nose burn. It can irritate your throat and make breathing difficult. In fact, pollutants like tiny airborne particles and groundlevel ozone can trigger respiratory problems, especially for people with asthma. Air pollution can also aggravate health problems for the elderly and others with heart or respiratory diseases. Some toxic chemicals released in the air such as benzene or vinyl chloride are highly toxic and can cause cancer, birth defects, long term injury to the lungs, as well as brain and nerve damage. And in some cases, breathing these chemicals can even cause death.Other pollutants make their way up into the upper atmosphere, causing a thinning of the protective ozone layer. This has led to changes in the environment and dramatic increases in skin cancers and cataracts (eye damage).

Most people know about the dangers of air pollution, but have you stopped to think about the quality of the air in your own home? Indoor air pollution is something every home in America struggles with. Since 1970 homes have been built “tighter” to conserve energy. But that same tight construction reduces ventilation, traps indoor air pollutants inside your home and could be making you sick. The following are 7 facts and statistcs found by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

1. You spend about 90% of your time indoors. At work, at school and at home, if you are like most people, you spend almost all of your time inside.

2. The quality of indoor air can be two to five times (and even up to 100 times) more polluted than the worst outside air.

3. The EPA has ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental dangers.

4. There has been an alarming increase in the number of children with severe allergies and asthma. The amount of children and young adults with severe allergies and asthma continues to climb every year. This has been linked to increasingly poor indoor air quality.

5. Allergies, asthma, lung cancer and heart problemshave all been linked to poor air quality. The American Heart Association has linked poor air quality to heart problems while the American Lung Association lists it as a leading cause of lung cancer.

6. Sources of indoor air pollution are all around you.

  • Combustion sources: gas, oil, kerosene and wood stoves or fireplaces, tobacco smoke

  • Building materials: insulation, carpet, cabinetry, pressed wood products

  • Chemical products: cleaning products, personal care products, glues, pastes

  • Outdoor sources: radon, pesticides, pollen, outdoor air pollution

  • Other: pet dander, dust mites, mold, virus

7. You inhale approximately 15,000 or more quarts of air per day. You likely understand the health benefits of clean water, of which you consume about two quarts per day. Yet, most people are unaware of or ignore the importance of breathing clean air, as well.

You could go days without food and hours without water, but you would last only a few minutes without air. On average, each of us breathes over 3,000 gallons of air each day. You must have air to live. Let's do what we can to make sure the quality of our air is at its best.

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