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Quick Guide To Manage Indoor Air Pollution During Lockdown

Around the world,  people are practicing distancing and/or are living in cities with lockdown orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As a result of decreased travel and economic activity, some cities are reporting that outdoor air quality has improved.

As people spend more time inside, it is important to consider the quality of the air being breathed indoors. While spending most of the day inside may present some challenges to indoor air quality, such as increases in pollution from cooking and heating, it also presents opportunities to reduce exposures and improve the quality of the air we are breathing indoors.

We’ll take a look at:

  • How indoor air pollution impacts health.
  • The sources of indoor air pollution.
  • How individuals can reduce their exposure to indoor air pollution.

It is important to note that none of the recommendations made here are intended to replace local, regional, or national health guidance, especially in the evolving circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indoor Air Pollution’s Impact on Your Health

There is emerging evidence that lung health may relate to COVID-19 sickness and death. People with poor lung health (whether from smoking, vaping, or exposure to environmental air pollution) may be at greater risk for complications. Researchers found that, during the SARS outbreak in 2003, people who lived in more polluted places (with higher PM2.5 levels) had worse health outcomes from the virus.

Because indoor and outdoor air pollution share many of the same health-harming components, such as fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the health impacts are similar to the impacts attributed to outdoor air pollution. Both contribute to cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and long term exposure is associated with some cancers.

What Are Some Sources of Indoor Air Pollution During LockDown

Households

Simply put, burning things in the home causes indoor air pollution. This includes having a fire in the fireplace, lighting candles, burning incense, and even cooking with fossil gas, propane, or LPG. Some specific cooking activities (or mishaps), such as burning toast and cooking foods on very hot pans, can create fine particulate pollution as well.

Chemical Pollutants

Sources of chemical pollutants include tobacco smoke, emissions from products used in the building (e.g. volatile organic compounds from office equipment; furniture, wall and floor coverings; and some cleaning and consumer products) accidental spill of chemicals, and gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are products of combustion.

Particles

Particles are solid or liquid substances which are light enough to be suspended in the air, the largest of which may be visible in sunbeams streaming into a room. However, smaller particles that you cannot see are likely to be more harmful to health. Particles of dust, dirt, or other substances may be drawn into the building from outside; and can also be produced by activities that occur in buildings, like sanding wood or drywall, printing, copying, operating equipment and smoking.

Common cleaning products can also contribute to indoor air pollution by producing volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Practical Steps to Reduce Exposure During Lockdown

Key actions that individuals can take at home include:

Reducing any burning inside the home (such as incense, candles, and wood fires).

Send fumes/smoke outside by using an exhaust fan that vents to the outdoors, or opening a nearby window/door if no fan is available.

Minimize the use of home products that can create air pollution such as artificial air fresheners, pesticides, aerosol sprays, adhesives, and harsh cleaning products. These products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.

Use a high quality vacuum with a HEPA filter. Vacuums without HEPA filters can re-suspend small particles in the air, but those with HEPA filters can remove health-harming particles.

Consider removing rugs because they trap pollutants, and these pollutants can later be re-suspended in the air and inhaled.

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Welcome

The well-being of our employees, our customers, our communities, and our environment is at the heart of our business here at Prism Analytical Technologies (Home Air Check's Laboratory). Now, more than ever, we must come together as we adjust to the challenges resulting from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). I am reaching out to let you know that we at Prism Analytical are committed to operating in a safe and responsible manner while maintaining the highest standards of quality in these troubled times.   

Prism Analytical continues to follow the direction of federal, state, and local governments regarding our operations, and we are closely monitoring the latest reports from the CDC and WHO.  We have instituted recommended cleaning and disinfection procedures of all our sampling equipment as well as the work spaces of all our personnel. We have also enabled staff to work from home where possible, delayed or cancelled upcoming travel plans, and are restricting access to our work spaces.

Our business will continue to operate as usual; from shipping equipment to laboratory operations to reporting. As always, we are here to help you be successful and are available via phone and email to help you plan projects, review data and answer questions.  

This is a constantly evolving situation and we will continue to closely monitor conditions and evaluate additional measures to support our customers, team members, and communities as needed. We will provide prompt updates regarding any adjustments to our procedures or operations.

We sincerely appreciate your patience during this time and are committed to maintaining transparent and open communication with you. Please reach out to me or any of our staff if you have any questions or concerns.

As a reminder, as more people spend time at home it’s more important than ever that they maintain good indoor air quality to help keep everyone healthy and facilitate successful remote learning and working.

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