In part 1 of this blog, we discussed what you needed to know about indoor air quality along with the 6 most common air pollutants. If you missed it, you can read it here.
What Diseases are caused by Air Pollution?
Improved methodologies for measuring data has created a better understanding of how health is affected by airborne particles and gases. World Health Organization data factors both indoor and outdoor air pollution, which results in 4.3 million and 3.7 million deaths respectively, for a combined mortality rate of 8 million.
Diseases that result from pollution are ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and acute lower respiratory infection in children. Looking at outdoor air pollution, heart disease and stroke combined account for a staggering 80% of deaths. With indoor air pollution, heart disease and stroke combine to make up 60% of deaths, while COPD and acute lower respiratory infections in children become more concerning.
Those are startling numbers especially when considering indoor air as the greater health threat than outdoor air. It does however correlate with EPA research that states indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, with some factors placing that number at 100 time greater. In certain parts of the world, particularly in low-income nations where people use coal or wood burning stoves, the likelihood of contracting a pollution related disease is far greater than in developed nations where modern gas and electric stoves, along with properly ventilated heating systems limiting exposure to harmful particles and gases.
How Can We Improve Air Quality?
Improved data collection methods and continued monitoring of human and environmental health is the driving force of environmental policy change. According to the EPA, in the U.S., the implementation of programs designed to improve health, longevity, the quality of life, and emissions of air toxins (187 pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects) declined 62 percent from 1990 to 2008. Yet it remains important to recognize that 75 million people in the U.S. live in counties with pollution levels above national ambient air quality standards. Likewise, 200,000 premature deaths are linked to air pollution in the U.S. each year.
It is important for individuals to be informed about air quality where they live. If you reside in the United States, Airnow.gov is a good resource for monitoring air quality and taking steps to limit outdoor exposure in poor conditions. This includes but is not limited to closing windows, less time spent outdoors or reducing heavy exertion, and turning your car’s air conditioning system to recirculate to limit exposure to exhaust gases and other harmful airborne particles.
Research done by the World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection agency, among others, reminds us why clean air is crucial to living well. As environmental policies improve, outdoor air quality will improve. Until that happens, we can at least take steps to improve indoor air quality. That is why Filtersfast.com is committed to meeting the needs of homes and businesses with quality air filtration products.