EPA Warns Indoor Air More Concerning
That polluted haze that can be seen over the horizon, acting like a beacon and reminding you what should already be common sense and well understood: dirty air is not good for your health. That is the visible simplicity of smog outside, but how about the air in your own homes or where you work? It is a fact that indoor air is, in many cases, a more grievous concern than outdoor air.
The EPA has put indoor air quality on its top five concerns for our overall health. That’s because indoor pollutants concentrate and recirculate. Our well-insulated homes keep them locked in and most of us don’t have the adequate ventilation or air purification systems needed to remove them.
The situation worsens for those in areas with high pollution levels. Diesel exhaust, factory emissions, wood smoke all find their way into our homes and disturbingly, into our bodies. And to what effect? Stunting our children’s academic development, apparently.
A recent study now links bad indoor air with lower grades in school children. Researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso, looked at almost 2,000 fourth and fifth graders who are exposed to toxic air pollutants at home.
They used the EPA’s, National Air Toxics Assessment data to estimate the kids’ exposure to pollutants near their homes and compared that to their school performance.
They found that the children who were exposed to higher levels of pollution from car and truck emissions were found to have significantly lower GPA's, even when they took into account other issues which can influence school performance.
“There are two pathways that can help us to explain this association,” said the study’s co-author Sara E. Grineski, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at UTEP. She went on to explain, “Some evidence suggests that this association might exist because of illnesses, such as respiratory infections or asthma. Air pollution makes children sick, which leads to absenteeism and poor performance in school. The other hypothesis is that chronic exposure to air toxics can negatively affect children’s neurological and brain development.”
The researchers also added that what makes their study unique is that they are looking at kids in their home setting, rather than at school. There are already a number of studies, they say, that have linked pollution near schools with lower standardized test scores. The results of their study were published in the academic journal Population and Environment.
Helpful Indoor Air Tips
Sources of indoor pollutants and allergens?
- Ambient pollution from outside
- Building materials
- Candles and scented products
- Cleaning supplies
- Cooking fumes
- Personal care products
- Plastic shower curtains
- Stored paint and solvents
- Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces
How You Can Reduce Exposure:
- Reduce chemical use in the home
- Increase ventilation and use an air cleaner
- Clean regularly to reduce allergens