A March 2014 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 1 in 8 people die from air pollution. Because of this statistic, WHO callled air pollution “the single greatest environmental health risk in the world today.” Air pollution has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and other serious health problems. Individuals should do everything within their power to reduce their exposure to air pollution.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution can actually be more dangerous than outdoor pollution.
Common sources of indoor pollution include smoke, pet dander, dust, and mold. Pollution levels vary from region to region, but they continue to pose a serious environmental risk in many areas. Here are a few ways to lower indoor air pollution:
1.) Lowering Air Pollution At Work
The Environmental Protection Agency says that there are three sources of poor indoor air quality in office buildings: “pollution sources; poorly designed, maintained, or operated ventilation systems; and uses of the building that were unanticipated or poorly planned for when the building was designed or renovated.” Common office pollution sources include cigarette smoke, restroom air fresheners, paints, water-damaged walls, and pesticides from pest management practices.
Ventilation problems occur when systems are not bringing in enough outdoor air or when air vents are blocked. It’s also possible for problems to occur when a building is being used for something it was not designed for.
Businesses need to have local health department officials inspect their office buildings for potential sources of pollution. If the officials identify any sources of air pollution, business owners should follow the necessary steps to fix the problems.
2.) Lowering Air Pollution At School
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health & Safety Administration website, “Indoor air quality is a concern in many schools due in part to the age and poor condition of a number of school buildings. School indoor air quality is particularly important as it may affect the health, performance and comfort of school staff and students.”
Schools need to monitor indoor air quality in order to protect students and faculty members. Because young children are more suspectible to air pollution than adults, it’s important for school officials to make sure that classrooms, cafeterias, and playgrounds don’t harbor any invisible air pollution problems.
Schools need to install programs that identify potential pollutants and figure out how to get rid of them. School officials can find helpful resources on the Center for Disease Control’s website.
Questions on the website include, “Is someone designated to develop and implement an indoor air quality management plan for your school district?” and “Does your district have an indoor air quality management plan that includes steps for preventing and resolving indoor air quality programs?” Each school should have a plan for monitoring and maintaining indoor air quality.
Each school should also have a panel of people dedicated to regularly checking the school’s indoor air quality. Local health department officials should also be brought in to test the school for air quality. Schools should be tested for lead-based paint, radon gas, and pesticide usage. An HVAC professional should also check the heating and cooling system to guarantee that the equipment is functioning properly.
Air filters should be changed every 3 months in order to guarantee that pollutants are being filered out of the air. Air filters can remove up to 95% of pollutants from indoor air, so school officials should make sure they are being changed on time.
By following these steps, you can reduce air pollution at work and school and make sure that you and your children are breathing clean air.
Andrew Philips is an electrician who lives in Seattle, WA.