Indoor Air Quality

In these post-COVID times


In these COVID times where we stay home to save lives concurrently with environmental health experts identifying the potentially dire consequences of infectious and polluted indoor air-What can we do to potentially mitigate the effects of harmful indoor air on our health as the time we spend indoors increases?

Many people may not realize that the indoor air they are exposed to daily may sometimes be more unsafe than the outdoor air of a typical city. Indoor air pollution has been known to cause a wide variety of unfavorable health effects in otherwise healthy people like conjunctival irritation, fatigue, headaches, respiratory issues, frequent colds and sore throats, eczema, dizziness or even memory lapses.

So, what are sources of indoor pollution? Working kitchens, furniture, wall coverings like wallpaper and paints, built-in cabinetry, personal care products and even household cleaning products just to name some.


Given the increased cleaning frequency that goes on in most indoor spaces these days with even stronger disinfectants than before in an attempt to reduce viral infection rates, the very thing we are using to protect our health now contributes more than ever to indoor pollution.


On top of that, efforts to improve energy efficiency by making spaces more airtight will result in indoor spaces with reduced outdoor ventilation, and hence causing buildup of indoor pollutants to levels that are higher than before.

Pollutants include (but are not limited to) substances like biological pollutants, asbestos, cooking burners and cookware, formaldehyde, pesticides, indoor particulate matter, second tobacco smoke and VOCs (we’ll discuss VOCs in the next topic).

Indoor particulate matter are microscopic particles of dust and dirt in the air.

Asbestos is used in a variety of renovation and construction materials like insulation, or as a fire retardant. Exposure to asbestos exposure increases one’s risk of developing lung disease, mesothelioma, or asbestosis.

Cooking burners and non-stick cookware heated beyond a certain temperature generate nitrogen oxide and particles. Cooking over a flame on a burner, through direct combustion of natural gas produces a higher quantity of harmful particles than non-combustion cooking methods like electric ovens and microwaves.

Biological pollutants include (but are not limited to) substances like mold, bacteria, viruses, animal dander / saliva, dustmites, cockroach /lizard droppings, and pollen. They are sources of allergens for many, triggering allergic reactions including asthma, allergic rhinitis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Mold and mildew are known to release disease-causing toxins that can plague a person’s health for years. Symptoms of health problems caused by biological pollutants include sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, fever, and digestive problems.

The presence of formaldehyde is found in many building materials and household products. A chemical compound, it is commonly used in resins on wood products, insulation materials, paints, glues, and pesticides. Long term and frequent exposure to formaldehyde could cause cancer and autoimmune diseases (look out for our article on formaldehyde soon!).


To find out more about what we can do to protect ourselves and loved ones during times of home isolation and beyond,check this out.



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