Air pollution linked to thousands of deaths
Thousands of lives are being put at grave danger from exposure to pollution emitted from everyday household objects and appliances, according to the findings of a new report. Health problems could be linked to linked to frequently used items such as air fresheners, candles, cleaning products, fly sprays, personal care products, mould or mildew, fires or wood-burning stoves and poorly maintained gas heaters and boilers, claims the report conducted by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), titled Every Breath We Take: the lifelong impact of air pollution. A person’s house itself and the materials it has been constructed could also be a source of concern regarding chemical pollutants. The authors say: “These include the construction materials, as well as paints, glues, furniture, wallpaper and drapery. Cleaning and DIY products, air fresheners and other consumer products such as insecticide sprays that we use in the home are also important.” It has long been common knowledge that smoking causes indoor air pollution, but now health experts have warned of several other items that are risking the onset of conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory problems, cancer and heart problems. The report even claims indoor air pollution may have caused or contributed to at least 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, and 99,000 deaths in total in just one year across Europe. Though being indoors may help to protect people from harmful outdoor pollution, this means that there is more time spent being exposed to pollution from inside their own homes, with the authors arguing that the drive to bringing energy costs by creating homes with tighter ventilation may be worsening the situation. “Being indoors can offer some protection against outdoor air pollution, but it can also expose us to other air pollution sources,” the authors wrote. “There is now good awareness of the risks from badly maintained gas appliances, radioactive radon gas and second-hand tobacco smoke, but indoors we can also be exposed to NO2 from gas cooking and solvents that slowly seep from plastics, paints and furnishings. “The lemon and pine scents that we use to make our homes smell fresh can react chemically to generate air pollutants, and ozone-based air fresheners can also cause indoor air pollution.” In particularly, the report highlighted the danger of potentially fatal carbon monoxide released from faulty boilers and heaters, in addition to the particulates and nitrogen oxides coming from heating and cooking appliances which can damage the lungs and heart. Perhaps the most worrying alarming aspects of air pollution mentioned in the report is the threat posed by the common household items used daily by millions of people, like fresheners and personal hygiene, DIY and cleaning products. Finally, the report concluded how there could be many more thousands of deaths from both inside and outside the home than has been previously thought. Back in 2008, 29,000 deaths across the UK each year was the figure estimated as a result of long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution, but the latest estimates now put the figure at about 40,000. Air pollution has been attributed to health problems such as asthma, cancer, dementia, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke.