When you discuss air pollution, most people think of the chemicals and particles breathed in when outside. Of course, traffic and industrial pollutants are a real hazard for our health. However, that doesn’t mean we are that much better off indoors. In fact, the air in our homes can be far more polluted than the air outside, even in a major city. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests the air inside air homes can be even more damaging to our health than the air outside because of the prolonged exposure to it.
The good news is that many of the pollutants in our home or office lie dormant in the carpet or furnishings, so they do us very little harm when we are just relaxing on the couch watching TV or are sat at our desks working. However, when we do the domestic chores and start vacuuming and dusting, these dormant particles become disturbed and can spread into the air, resulting in our exposure to them increasing. For commercial cleaners, the problem is even worse. Worst of all, prolonged exposure to some of these pollutants in our homes and offices can have quite dramatic effects on our health.
There is a common misconception that dust is comprised mainly of human skin cells. Actually, the truth is that dust can contain anything, but human skin cells are fairly common, and while breathing in these particles is pretty harmless, some other components lingering in household dust can be much more hazardous to our health. One pollutant found in dust in virtually all homes and offices, is dust mites. Dust mites live in our carpets and bedding, even in the cleanest of homes. As they mainly eat human skin cells, it means our homes and offices are abundant feeding grounds. Dust mites are the leading cause of allergies in the UK and United States and have been linked to causing and aggravating conditions such as asthma.
While dust mites themselves don’t cause these allergies, their feces does, and it is this we are breathing in when we start cleaning the carpets and bedding. Of course, regular cleaning can drastically reduce the number of dust mites in our homes, but even in the cleanest of houses, they will still exist in abundance. Furthermore, vacuuming, bed stripping, and cleaning disturbs the tiny dust mite particles, so when we carry out these activities, we are most at risk of up breathing in this common pollutant.
While everybody knows the dangers of smoking and second hand smoke, what it is less well known is that the particles in smoke can still be harmful a long time after people have stubbed out their cigarettes. Not only can these particles still cause cancer and respiratory problems, but also they can cause throat irritations, headaches and other health problems. Because these particles are fairly large and heavy, they often linger in carpets and curtains, so when you start cleaning, they become airborne again, resulting in you breathing them in. Of course, if there is a smoker in your home, by far the best solution is to encourage them to stop, and there are plenty of products available these days that can help you quit smoking. However, for those that share a home with somebody unable to quit, or for cleaners who have to work in environments where people have been smoking, tobacco particles can represent a serious health concern.
Mold and other pollutants
Another common pollutant in our homes and workplaces is mold. Mold is a fungus, and as such, it puts out spores that can be breathed in. However, in small quantities, mold spores are fairly harmless, but when they land on wet or damp surfaces, the mold grows, producing even more spores, which in greater numbers can cause chest irritations, allergies, and problems with the eyes, nose and throat.
Other potentially harmful particles in the air include wood fibers, particularly from self-assembly furniture as these contain glues and resins that can cause rashes, nausea and asthma attacks. In addition, machines such as computer printers are also pretty hazardous to our health as they spit out tiny particles of ink, ozone and toner, which are all lung irritants. These are of course much more prevalent in offices, which means that commercial cleaners are at an even greater risk.
Despite all these pollutants in the home and office, nobody is suggesting you should wear protection such as a Totobobo mask when just sitting on your couch watching TV or sat at your computer working. However, when cleaning, vacuuming, changing the printer cartridge or putting up self-assembly furniture, keeping these harmful particles out of your lungs may reduce potential health problems. Furthermore, for commercial cleaners, protection such as a Totobobo mask is even more important because the prolong exposure to these pollutants makes health problems even more likely.
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