When we talk about pollution, we very often think of natural environments degraded and influenced by human presence. However, pollution is also present in our homes and in the closed environments that we frequent daily and it damages us even when we least expect it.
A study that appeared in Building and Environment deals with this aspect: researchers at Washington State University have analyzed the indoor environments frequented by people, primarily U.S. homes, and have found quite worrying levels of pollutants. Among the latter, in fact, they found formaldehyde and mercury inside the houses analyzed.
The levels of these pollutants varied during the day and their effects increased with increasing temperature. The study shows that heat dates and ongoing climate change heavily affect indoor air quality and will do so even more in the future. For example, in a house built in the early 1970s they found a plaster panel that emitted high levels of formaldehyde and mercury when heated.
At the moment there is virtually no regulation of indoor pollution, unlike outdoor pollution where increasingly strict laws are proposed by the institutions. There are regulations regarding the construction of houses and their structure but nothing about the emission rates that exist inside, emission rates well present as this study shows.
The sources of these emissions are varied. Pollutants can come from the same building materials as well as from the chemicals used in the home or kitchen. The only way to tackle the problem, in addition to paying attention to the chemicals used in the home, is to regularly ventilate the rooms leaving windows and balconies open.
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