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Air Quality and Health Effects
AIR QUALITY - Indoor and Outdoor
Indoor Air Quality
Access to the built environment is limited not only by building design but is also dependent on the choice of building materials and furnishings which can greatly influence indoor air quality. Many individuals are hypersensitive to mould, dust and other allergens, outgassing from high emission building materials, carpets, furnishings etc, air conditioning and detergents/disinfectants, pesticides, freshly painted surfaces, recently dry cleaned clothes, laundry products, fragrances and other personal care products (underarm deodorants, hair spray, mousse, shampoo, hair conditioner, make up, toilet soap etc). they can suffer various degrees of health injury and disability whilst in the built environment including medical emergencies. Individuals with respiratory disease have extremely sensitive lungs and should not be exposed to allergens and strong chemicals. However, buildings are also workplaces and building occupants, including workers, can be affected by the same substances. This is known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) which is commonly caused by levels of various contaminants in buildings, especially volatile organic compounds (VOCs). www.epa.gov/iaq/ Sick Building Syndrome can cause MCS/ES (Environmental Sensitivity).
Poor indoor air quality is a major detriment to MCS/ES disability access in most public buildings including hospitals and other health care facilities such as GP surgeries, imaging and X-ray facilities, pathology laboratories, nursing homes, pharmacies and housing. It greatly disadvantages individuals with MCS/ES disability in particular MCS, allergy, chronic fatigue syndrome and respiratory disease e.g., asthma, emphysema, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), (but is not restricted only to those disorders) as they are unable to access necessary services and care.
The ASEHA leaflet on Indoor Air Quality provides information on indoor air pollutants and what you can do to reduce them.
The following ASEHA articles provide more information
Outdoor Air Quality
Inhalants such as pollens, dust and moulds have long been known to cause reactions in sensitive persons such as allergy sufferers and asthmatics. Chemicals we are commonly exposed to may also cause reactions in people with no history of allergy or intolerance, ie in those with MCS/ES. There is now a wide array of substances such as petrochemicals, pesticides, herbicides, metals etc, that are so prevalent it has become difficult to find air, food and water that does not contain some of these contaminants.
Many of these pollutants are the result of industry waste, motor exhausts, smoke from various sources, councils and sporting clubs using herbicides and pesticides. The encroachment of land developers into environmentally sensitive wetlands for the construction of housing estates and canal developments, necessitates the use of a large number of pesticides to control the natural populations of midges and mosquitos that live there. Wetland areas or areas close to creeks, public parks or golf courses are all areas of high agricultural chemical usage. These combine with existing urban pollution and contribute to ill health.
Particulate matter is often contaminated with other pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide or carbon monoxide. US EPA concluded that premature deaths can result from both chronic and acute exposure to particulate matter. Smoke from various sources in the community is a major source of particulate matter. Smoke is emitted from industrial plants, motor vehicles, industrial/domestic incinerators, cold burns, pit burning and residential wood burning appliances. Wood burning produces fine particulate matter and is very dangerous.
The ASEHA leaflet Outdoor Air Quality provides information on outdoor air pollutants and what you can do to reduce them.
The following ASEHA Article is related to outdoor pollution from wood smoke: Health Effects Of Woodsmoke
More Information on other Environmental Toxins can be found in ASEHA Leaflets on MCS and Environmental Toxins
Respiratory Conditions and Air Quality
Aeroallergens, Irritants and Respiratory Conditions This series of articles describes the major sources of aeroallergens and irritants found in the environment and Respiratory conditions such as Asthma, Vocal Cord Disorder and United Airway Disease that maybe caused by acute and chronic exposure to them.