If you’re one of the many people spending a lot more time at home these days, spare a thought for the air you’re breathing there.
Compared to other indoor settings, many homes have few “air changes per hour,” a metric engineers use to assess ventilation, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a result, air pollutants can pile up. These can include fine particulate matter (also known as PM2.5), carbon monoxide, ozone, radon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), biological contaminants (pet dander or dust mites, for example), and more. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to health effects including headaches, fatigue, heart disease, and cancer. Children, the elderly, and people with cardiovascular or respiratory health issues are most at risk.
“Since more [people] than ever are working from home, I do believe it’s essential to be proactive about the quality of our indoor air,” said Neeta Ogden, a New Jersey-based immunologist and allergist. “Often people aren’t even conscious of their indoor air environment and how they might improve it.”