What is the health impact of poor IAQ?
Indoor air quality is crucial for human health and well-being, as we spend the majority of our time indoors. Poor indoor air quality can cause a variety of health problems, including headaches, fatigue, allergies, throat and eye irritation, respiratory problems, and cardiovascular diseases.
You've probably heard this several times before, but without understanding why you should be concerned about this invisible threat.
That's why we've decided to present you today, with a more vivid illustration, the health issues caused by poor air quality. To do this, let's look at different stages of an average human's life.
The fetal stage and the first 1000 days
During this phase, humans are particularly sensitive to air quality, and it's important to protect them from the many sources of indoor air pollution that can be harmful to them. Substances such as endocrine disruptors (defined by the REACH framework) have a strong impact on the physical and mental development of an infant. Sources of these pollutants are diverse, such as cleaning products, paints, furniture, and human activities. Numerous studies have shown that the application of pesticides in fields near homes or traffic on nearby roads can be significant sources of indoor air pollutants.
At this stage, an infant may unfortunately develop short-term (dizziness, nausea, fatigue, eye, nose, and throat irritation) and long-term (asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, and even chronic respiratory and/or cardiovascular diseases) deleterious effects from exposure to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). It is therefore important to protect them as much as possible from air pollutants.
It's also possible to check the air quality around you through maps available online. You can, for example, click here to check for the presence of allergens in your department according to the RNSA's research.
Childhood and adolescence
Now, let's focus on the child and adolescent stage.
During these stages of life, a human is exposed to new places and sources of exposure, such as daycare, classrooms, sports clubs, or school transportation. Mixed with peers, they will be increasingly susceptible to airborne virus transmission and will start to fall ill. They remain exposed to the same sources of pollution and risks as during the first 1000 days, still in full physical and mental development. It's worth noting that new diseases potentially resulting from exposure to air pollutants, such as diabetes, obesity, and even depression, may emerge.
Once they reach adulthood, the human body has had time to develop properly and is somewhat more resistant to the pollutants present in the air. What we need to keep in mind now is that they will be exposed to air pollutants on a daily basis, such as in traffic jams or at work in an open space, for example. Prolonged exposure to poor air quality can, even with the robust body of an adult human, increase the likelihood of developing cancer, depression, lower work productivity, increase sick leave, as well as increase the chances of developing diseases at an advanced age. Surprisingly, recent studies have also shown that exposure to certain indoor air pollutants is a risk factor for bone loss. Thus, air quality impacts even our skeletal structure.
Finally, we come to the stage of the elderly. Again frail and highly sensitive to air quality, the human body will be at greater risk of developing some of the diseases that appear at this stage of life. Long-term exposure to poor air quality leads to an increased risk of developing diseases such as dementia (Parkinson's, Alzheimer's), cancer, and cardiovascular disease. It is advised during this stage to continue to pay close attention to the air quality that is breathed, particularly in spaces such as one's home or retirement home (see our article on the subject), where the individual will increasingly spend their time.
As you can see, throughout one's life, a human is exposed to various indoor air pollutants. Small daily actions such as airing out indoor spaces (preferably at night or early in the morning) or maintaining a well-functioning ventilation system (VMC) can help reduce exposure to poor air quality. However, to truly minimize health risks, it is important to incorporate the use of an air purifier into your daily routine. There are many different types of air purifiers available on the market today, and they can be adapted to meet your needs. For example, the Shield Compact produced by JVD is lightweight and very compact, allowing it to be carried with you throughout the day or moved from room to room in your business. It is important to choose the right air purifier, and we invite you to consult our guide to help with your decision-making.