Indoor air pollution can have a major impact on human health. Both inhaling and swallowing pollutants can cause health issues.
Heart Disease #
Air pollution is linked to a range of diseases, including heart disease. Tiny pollution particles enter the bloodstream and can damage the heart. Damage is from build up and rapid aging the blood vessels. Exposure to these pollutants increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure in susceptible individuals.
Lung Cancer #
Studies have found a link between indoor air pollution and lung cancer. One study found that non-smokers were twice as likely to develop lung cancer in homes with high air pollution. While air pollution has been associated with lung cancer for over two decades, the exact way by which small pollutant particles contribute to the development of the disease is still unclear.
The study focused on the effects of PM2.5 – a type of air pollution with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 micrometers – on lung cancer risk. Exposure to this pollutant has been linked to a greater risk of lung cancer, as well as breast, anus/anal canal, larynx, lip, pharynx, and pleural mesothelioma. Furthermore, the study showed an increased risk in people exposed to higher levels of PM2.5.
Indoor air pollution is a major cause of lung cancer, and a common culprit is tobacco smoke. But there are other factors that may increase the risk even more. Children are more likely to be exposed to these pollutants than adults.
Other Lung Disease #
The mechanism for other lung disease is fairly well understood. Tiny particles (e.g. PM2.5) enter the lungs very deeply. There, damage to the lung tissue causes disease. Watch this video for more information on how poor indoor air quality impacts the lungs.
Mental Health #
Indoor air pollution is a major source of stress for many people. It has been shown to negatively affect the central nervous system. These pollutants can disrupt sleep and lead to other mental health problems. Air pollution is often accompanied by other sources of stress, possibly compounding other health issues.
Indoor air pollution is linked to adverse effects on the brain and lungs, which can lead to a variety of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline. Exposure to these pollutants increases the risk for diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is important to understand the effects of air pollution on mental health, and to seek help if you suspect you are suffering from mental illness.
Timing of Symptoms #
The effects of indoor air pollution on human health may occur right after. Exposure to air pollution can have serious health effects, even for healthy people. For example, carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly to anyone in a matter of minutes. Or, health impacts may develop years later. The symptoms may be difficult to detect. Pay attention to the time and place where the symptoms occur. For example, a person’s symptoms may disappear while they are away from home but recur the next day. This may indicate the source of the pollution.