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Indoor Air Quality

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Types of Indoor Air Pollution

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) defines indoor air as air within a building occupied for at least one hour by people of varying states of health. This can include the office, classroom, transport facility, shopping centre, hospital and home. Indoor air quality can be defined as the totality of attributes of indoor air that affect a person’s health and well being.

A major concern with respect to indoor air quality is the use of gas cookers and unflued gas heaters. These two sources can often contribute a large percentage of the pollutants found in domestic dwellings.

Increasingly, as dwellings have become better sealed from the external environment, pollutants being released from indoor sources are being found at higher concentrations.

Indoor air quality can be adversely affected by other pollutants such as fungi, microbial contamination, house dust mites, particulates and air toxics such as formaldehyde.

Immediate Effects of IAQ

Some health effects may appear shortly following a single exposure or repeated exposures to a pollutant. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, nausea, headaches, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are often short-term and treatable. Sometimes the treatment is simply eliminating the person’s exposure to the source of the contamination, even if it could be recognized. Shortly after exposure to some indoor air pollutants, symptoms of several diseases like asthma may show up, be aggravated or worsened.
The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on many factors including age and preexisting medical problems. Sometimes, whether a individual reacts to a pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies tremendously from person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological or chemical pollutants after repeated or higher level exposures.
Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases, therefore it is often hard to decide if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air contamination. For this reason, it is very important to pay attention to this time and set symptoms happen. If the symptoms fade or go away when a person is away from the region, by way of example, an attempt should be made to identify indoor air sources that could be possible causes.

Long-Term Effects of IAQ

Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These impacts, which include some respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to attempt to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.
While pollutants commonly found in indoor air can result in a number of harmful effects, there is considerable uncertainty about what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary to produce specific health issues. People also react very differently to exposure to indoor air pollutants. Additional study is needed to better understand which health effects occur after exposure to the average pollutant concentrations found in homes and which happens from the higher concentrations that occur for short periods of time.

Indoor Air Quality Pollutant Sources

noun Fire 375995

Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine, microscopic particles produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The biggest health threat from wood smoke comes from fine particles (also called particulate matter). They are small enough to enter the lungs where they can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, or other serious respiratory diseases. Fine particles can also aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases, and are linked to premature deaths in people with these chronic conditions.

Many old, pot-bellied wood stoves are still functioning to provide warmth and a cooking fire in tribal communities; but they may also be releasing wood smoke that is harmful to the health of everyone exposed to it, especially the young and the old. To avoid these inevitable health risks — and gain the greater efficiency and effectiveness of new, cleaner burning technology wood stoves — it is recommended that old stoves be gradually replaced or “changed out.”

Changing out wood stoves requires a financial investment; however, there are programs that provide financial assistance and manufacturers that provide discounts. The results of replacement speak for themselves with improvements in the health of children and community, home safety, visibility, and indoor air quality.

EPA certified wood s

noun Tobacco 3544010

What is Secondhand Smoke?
Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Exposure to secondhand smoke is sometimes called involuntary or passive smoking. Secondhand smoke, classified by EPA as a Group A carcinogen, contains more than 7,000 substances. Secondhand smoke exposure commonly occurs indoors, particularly in homes and cars. Secondhand smoke can move between rooms of a home and between apartment units. Opening a window or increasing ventilation in a home or car is not protective from secondhand smoke.

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What are the Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke?
The health effects of secondhand smoke on nonsmoking adults and children are harmful and numerous. Secondhand smoke causes cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), lung cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, and other serious health problems. Several landmark health assessments regarding secondhand smoke have been conducted. Key findings:
  • There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke.
  • Secondhand smoke causes nearly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the United States among nonsmokers.
  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25-30%.
  • Secondhand smoke causes many lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year.
  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increases their risk of developing lung cancer by 20-30%.
  • Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome.
Learn more about the health effects of secondhand smoke from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Secondhand smoke poses particular health risks to children with asthma.
  • Secondhand smoke is a universal asthma trigger and can elicit an asthma attack or make asthma symptoms more severe.
  • Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways of the lungs and can lead to coughing, trouble breathing, wheezing and tightness in the chest.
  • Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease affecting, on average, 1 in 13 school aged children.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke may cause new cases of asthma in children who have not previously shown symptoms.
  • More than half of US children with asthma are exposed to secondhand smoke (quinto, 2013).
Read EPA’s 1999 health assessment, Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking:  Lung Cancer and Other Disorders.

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What Can You Do to Reduce Exposure to Secondhand Smoke?
Eliminating secondhand smoke in the indoor environment will reduce its harmful health effects, improve the indoor air quality and the comfort or health of occupants. Secondhand smoke exposure can be reduced through mandated or voluntary smoke-free policy implementation.  Some workplaces and enclosed public spaces such as bars and restaurants are smoke-free by law.  People can establish and enforce smoke-free rules in their own homes and cars.  For multifamily housing, smoke-free policy implementation could be mandatory or voluntary, depending on the type of property and location (e.g., ownership and jurisdiction).
  • The home is becoming the predominant location for the exposure of children and adults to secondhand smoke.  (Surgeon General’s Report, 2006)
  • Households within buildings with smoke-free policies have lower PM2.5 compared to buildings without these policies. PM2.5 is a unit of measure for small particles in the air and is used as one indication of air quality. High levels of fine particles in the air can lead to negative health impacts. (Russo, 2014)
  • Prohibiting smoking indoors is the only way to eliminate secondhand smoke from the indoor environment. Ventilation and filtration techniques can reduce, but not eliminate, secondhand smoke. (Bohoc, 2010)

noun Biohazard 23821

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance it has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. Asbestos has been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in:

  • Building materials:
    • Roofing shingles
    • Ceiling and floor tiles
    • Paper products
    • Asbestos cement products
  • Friction products:
    • Automobile clutch
    • Automobile brake
    • Transmission parts
  • Heat-resistant fabrics
  • Packaging
  • Gaskets
  • Coatings

Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after asbestos-containing materials are disturbed by cutting, sanding or other remodeling activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air in homes, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living in those homes.

noun baby bed 3627628

Formaldehyde is an important chemical used widely by industry to manufacture building materials and numerous household products. It is also a by-product of combustion and certain other natural processes. Thus, it may be present in substantial concentrations both indoors and outdoors.

Formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat. High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers.

Read more about formaldehyde.

Overview
Biological contaminants include bacteria, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen. There are many sources of these pollutants. By controlling the relative humidity level in a home, the growth of some sources of biologicals can be minimized. A relative humidity of 30-50 percent is generally recommended for homes. Standing water, water-damaged materials or wet surfaces also serve as a breeding ground for molds, mildews, bacteria and insects. House dust mites, the source of one of the most powerful biological allergens, grow in damp, warm environments.

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Sources
  • pollens, which originate from plants
  • viruses, which are transmitted by people and animals
  • mold
  • bacteria, which are carried by people, animals, and soil and plant debris
  • household pets, which are sources of saliva and animal dander (skin flakes)
  • droppings and body parts from cockroaches, rodents and other pests or insects
  • viruses and bacteria
  • The protein in urine from rats and mice is a potent allergen. When it dries, it can become airborne.
  • Contaminated central air handling systems can become breeding grounds for mold, mildew and other sources of biological contaminants and can then distribute these contaminants through the home
Many of these biological contaminants are small enough to be inhaled. Biological contaminants are, or are produced by, living things. Biological contaminants are often found in areas that provide food and moisture or water. For example:
  • damp or wet areas such as cooling coils, humidifiers, condensate pans or unvented bathrooms can be moldy
  • draperies, bedding, carpet and other areas where dust collects may accumulate biological contaminants

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Health Effects from Biological Contaminants
Some biological contaminants trigger allergic reactions, including:
  • hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • allergic rhinitis
  • some types of asthma
Infectious illnesses, such as influenza, measles and chicken pox are transmitted through the air. Molds and mildews release disease-causing toxins. Symptoms of health problems caused by biological pollutants include:
  • sneezing
  • watery eyes
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • lethargy
  • fever
  • and digestive problems
Allergic reactions occur only after repeated exposure to a specific biological allergen. However, that reaction may occur immediately upon re-exposure or after multiple exposures over time. As a result, people who have noticed only mild allergic reactions, or no reactions at all, may suddenly find themselves very sensitive to particular allergens. Some diseases, like humidifier fever, are associated with exposure to toxins from microorganisms that can grow in large building ventilation systems. However, these diseases can also be traced to microorganisms that grow in home heating and cooling systems and humidifiers. Children, elderly people and people with breathing problems, allergies, and lung diseases are particularly susceptible to disease-causing biological agents in the indoor air. Mold, dust mites, pet dander and pest droppings or body parts can trigger asthma. Biological contaminants, including molds and pollens can cause allergic reactions for a significant portion of the population. Tuberculosis, measles, staphylococcus infections, Legionella and influenza are known to be transmitted by air.

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Reducing Exposure to Biological Contaminants
General good housekeeping, and maintenance of heating and air conditioning equipment, are very important. Adequate ventilation and good air distribution also help. The key to mold control is moisture control. If mold is a problem, clean up the mold and get rid of excess water or moisture. Maintaining the relative humidity between 30% - 60% will help control mold, dust mites and cockroaches. Employ integrated pest management to control insect and animal allergens. Cooling tower treatment procedures exist to reduce levels of Legionella and other organisms.
  • Install and use exhaust fans that are vented to the outdoors in kitchens and bathrooms and vent clothes dryers outdoors. These actions can eliminate much of the moisture that builds up from everyday activities. There are exhaust fans on the market that produce little noise, an important consideration for some people. Another benefit to using kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans is that they can reduce levels of organic pollutants that vaporize from hot water used in showers and dishwashers.
  • Ventilate the attic and crawl spaces to prevent moisture build-up. Keeping humidity levels in these areas below 50 percent can prevent water condensation on building materials.
  • If using cool mist or ultrasonic humidifiers, clean appliances according to manufacturer's instructions and refill with fresh water daily. Because these humidifiers can become breeding grounds for biological contaminants, they have the potential for causing diseases such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever. Evaporation trays in air conditioners, dehumidifiers and refrigerators should also be cleaned frequently.
  • Thoroughly clean and dry water-damaged carpets and building materials (within 24 hours if possible) or consider removal and replacement. Water-damaged carpets and building materials can harbor mold and bacteria. It is very difficult to completely rid such materials of biological contaminants.
  • Keep the house clean. House dust mites, pollens, animal dander and other allergy-causing agents can be reduced, although not eliminated, through regular cleaning. People who are allergic to these pollutants should use allergen-proof mattress encasements, wash bedding in hot (130° F) water and avoid room furnishings that accumulate dust, especially if they cannot be washed in hot water. Allergic individuals should also leave the house while it is being vacuumed because vacuuming can actually increase airborne levels of mite allergens and other biological contaminants. Using central vacuum systems that are vented to the outdoors or vacuums with high efficiency filters may also be of help.
  • Take steps to minimize biological pollutants in basements. Clean and disinfect the basement floor drain regularly. Do not finish a basement below ground level unless all water leaks are patched and outdoor ventilation and adequate heat to prevent condensation are provided. Operate a dehumidifier in the basement if needed to keep relative humidity levels between 30 - 50 percent.

Introduction
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored. EPA's Office of Research and Development's "Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) Study" (Volumes I through IV, completed in 1985) found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. TEAM studies indicated that while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed.

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Sources of VOCs
Household products, including:
  • paints, paint strippers and other solvents
  • wood preservatives
  • aerosol sprays
  • cleansers and disinfectants
  • moth repellents and air fresheners
  • stored fuels and automotive products
  • hobby supplies
  • dry-cleaned clothing
  • pesticide
Other products, including:
  • building materials and furnishings
  • office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper
  • graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions.

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Health Effects
Health effects may include:
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
  • Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
  • Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.
Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include:
  • conjunctival irritation
  • nose and throat discomfort
  • headache
  • allergic skin reaction
  • dyspnea
  • declines in serum cholinesterase levels
  • nausea
  • emesis
  • epistaxis
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics include:
  • Eye and respiratory tract irritation
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • visual disorders and memory impairment
At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes.

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Levels in Homes
Studies have found that levels of several organics average 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors. During and for several hours immediately after certain activities, such as paint stripping, levels may be 1,000 times background outdoor levels.

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Steps to Reduce Exposure
  • Increase ventilation when using products that emit VOCs.
  • Meet or exceed any label precautions.
  • Do not store opened containers of unused paints and similar materials within the school.
  • Formaldehyde, one of the best known VOCs, is one of the few indoor air pollutants that can be readily measured.
    • Identify, and if possible, remove the source.
    • If not possible to remove, reduce exposure by using a sealant on all exposed surfaces of paneling and other furnishings.
  • Use integrated pest management techniques to reduce the need for pesticides.
  • Use household products according to manufacturer's directions.
  • Make sure you provide plenty of fresh air when using these products.
  • Throw away unused or little-used containers safely; buy in quantities that you will use soon.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.
  • Never mix household care products unless directed on the label.
Follow label instructions carefully. Potentially hazardous products often have warnings aimed at reducing exposure of the user. For example, if a label says to use the product in a well-ventilated area, go outdoors or in areas equipped with an exhaust fan to use it. Otherwise, open up windows to provide the maximum amount of outdoor air possible. Throw away partially full containers of old or unneeded chemicals safely. Because gases can leak even from closed containers, this single step could help lower concentrations of organic chemicals in your home. (Be sure that materials you decide to keep are stored not only in a well-ventilated area but are also safely out of reach of children.) Do not simply toss these unwanted products in the garbage can. Find out if your local government or any organization in your community sponsors special days for the collection of toxic household wastes. If such days are available, use them to dispose of the unwanted containers safely. If no such collection days are available, think about organizing one. Buy limited quantities. If you use products only occasionally or seasonally, such as paints, paint strippers and kerosene for space heaters or gasoline for lawn mowers, buy only as much as you will use right away. Keep exposure to emissions from products containing methylene chloride to a minimum. Consumer products that contain methylene chloride include paint strippers, adhesive removers and aerosol spray paints. Methylene chloride is known to cause cancer in animals. Also, methylene chloride is converted to carbon monoxide in the body and can cause symptoms associated with exposure to carbon monoxide. Carefully read the labels containing health hazard information and cautions on the proper use of these products. Use products that contain methylene chloride outdoors when possible; use indoors only if the area is well ventilated. Keep exposure to benzene to a minimum. Benzene is a known human carcinogen. The main indoor sources of this chemical are:
  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • stored fuels
  • paint supplies
  • automobile emissions in attached garages
Actions that will reduce benzene exposure include:
  • eliminating smoking within the home
  • providing for maximum ventilation during painting
  • discarding paint supplies and special fuels that will not be used immediately
Keep exposure to perchloroethylene emissions from newly dry-cleaned materials to a minimum. Perchloroethylene is the chemical most widely used in dry cleaning. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to cause cancer in animals. Recent studies indicate that people breathe low levels of this chemical both in homes where dry-cleaned goods are stored and as they wear dry-cleaned clothing. Dry cleaners recapture the perchloroethylene during the dry-cleaning process so they can save money by re-using it, and they remove more of the chemical during the pressing and finishing processes. Some dry cleaners, however, do not remove as much perchloroethylene as possible all of the time. Taking steps to minimize your exposure to this chemical is prudent.
  • If dry-cleaned goods have a strong chemical odor when you pick them up, do not accept them until they have been properly dried.
  • If goods with a chemical odor are returned to you on subsequent visits, try a different dry cleaner

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Why Choose Snap Air Conditioning

Licensed & Insured Technicians

We are licensed through the Electrical Safety office / Arc tick and insured for up to $10m. Our technicians are employees with ongoing in-house training and not just subcontractors like other companies use. This ensures a professional service that remains focused on “YOU”- our clients.

100% Satisfaction Guaranteed

We always ensure that our clients are 100% satisfied with our services by taking heed of all the feedback we receive. If you are not overjoyed with our work, please let us know, and we will accommodate you until you are 100% satisfied & happy. Our 5-star reviews are proof of this.

5-Year Workmanship Warranty

We make sure that your newly installed air conditioning unit keeps running perfectly for the long-term. With our 5-year workmanship warranty, your products are ensured to work efficiently and NOT wasting power.

Wide Variety of Services

Our air conditioning services range from Split System installation, maintenance, repairs, replacement, multi head split and ducted. We have the best solutions for every air conditioning service you need.

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Get your dream air conditioning system installed in your home or business without paying the upfront price. You can choose any of our supply and install deals with 6 months interest free, with up to a 60-month finance option.

Wealth of Experience

We have been offering air conditioning installation services to our local community and Brisbane for over 15 years. We have seen it all, and we genuinely know what it takes to give the best benefits out of our industry experience.

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We provide a dedicated customer support team to take care of your concerns quickly. We offer before, during, and after-sales support to secure complete customer satisfaction - every single time!

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Our air conditioning services are backed with efficiency and on-time delivery, not to waste your precious time. We also use the latest technology to ensure we get the job is done right and five times faster.

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We Genuinely Care

We genuinely care about each one of our customers. If the system is not good enough to be used in our home or business, we will not recommend it to you. We aim to provide you with the best air conditioning system that you can enjoy for many years to come.

If you need cost-effective air conditioning for your home or business, call us on 📞 (07) 3084 3501 to get started. We have the most reliable & efficient solutions for you.

Tips to improve Indoor Air Quality

noun_exhaust fan_123794
Install and use exhaust fans that are vented to the outdoors in kitchens and bathrooms and vent clothes dryers outdoors.

These actions can eliminate much of the moisture that builds up from everyday activities. There are exhaust fans on the market that produce little noise, an important consideration for some people. Another benefit to using kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans is that they can reduce levels of organic pollutants that vaporize from hot water used in showers and dishwashers.

noun_vacum cleaner_357129
Keep the house clean. House dust mites, pollens, animal dander and other allergy-causing agents can be reduced, although not eliminated, through regular cleaning.

People who are allergic to these pollutants should use allergen-proof mattress encasements, wash bedding in hot (130° F) water and avoid room furnishings that accumulate dust, especially if they cannot be washed in hot water. Allergic individuals should also leave the house while it is being vacuumed because vacuuming can actually increase airborne levels of mite allergens and other biological contaminants. Using central vacuum systems that are vented to the outdoors or vacuums with high efficiency filters may also be of help.

noun_Humidifier_3380259
If using cool mist or ultrasonic humidifiers, clean appliances according to manufacturer's instructions and refill with fresh water daily.

Because these humidifiers can become breeding grounds for biological contaminants, they have the potential for causing diseases such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever. Evaporation trays in air conditioners, dehumidifiers and refrigerators should also be cleaned frequently.

noun_ventilate_278148
Ventilate the attic and crawl spaces to prevent moisture build-up.

Keeping humidity levels in these areas below 50 percent can prevent water condensation on building materials.

noun_disinfection_3597932
Take steps to minimize biological pollutants in basements.

Clean and disinfect the basement floor drain regularly. Do not finish a basement below ground level unless all water leaks are patched and outdoor ventilation and adequate heat to prevent condensation are provided. Operate a dehumidifier in the basement if needed to keep relative humidity levels between 30 – 50 percent

noun_cleaning_2663016
Thoroughly clean and dry water-damaged carpets and building materials (within 24 hours if possible) or consider removal and replacement.

Water-damaged carpets and building materials can harbor mold and bacteria. It is very difficult to completely rid such materials of biological contaminants.

Who is affected by indoor air pollution?

Everyone can be affected by air pollution especially when exposed over prolonged periods of time. However, some groups of people may be more susceptible than others in regards to exposure to air pollution. Different pollutants may affect these groups differently. For example, several of the pollutants may trigger symptoms in people with asthma, whereas people with heart disease are most likely to be affected by particle pollution.

noun_asthma_3625714
People with asthma

Exposure to air pollution might worsen your symptoms or trigger asthma attacks. Use your reliever medicine and check you have an up to date asthma action plan

noun_asthma_1771252
People with lung disease
Such as chronic bronchitis (also called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD): exposure to air pollution might worsen your symptoms. Use your reliever medicine and see your doctor if symptoms don’t resolve.
noun_heart disease_873068
People with cardiovascular (heart) disease
Exposure to air pollution might induce symptoms such as palpitations, chest pain or shortness of breath. If your symptoms persist or are severe, you should seek urgent medical advice from your doctor or nearest Emergency Department.
noun_fetus_48330
Unborn babies (pregnant women
Exposure to high levels of air pollution over longer time periods (ie weeks to months) may be linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as reduced birth weight or preterm birth.
noun_Children_3058693
Children
Are likely to be more vulnerable to exposure to air pollution compared to adults as their lungs are still growing and developing