Unraveling the Myths and Truths
About Indoor Air Quality

Man and lady in mask concerned with the air quality

While we often associate air pollution with outdoor environments, it's important to acknowledge that indoor environments are not immune to contaminants. Our homes, workplaces and other indoor settings can harbour pollutants that are detrimental to our health.

One key factor that affects indoor air quality is the infiltration of outdoor pollution. Despite our best efforts to create a sealed environment, pollutants such as dust, pollen and vehicle emissions can find their way indoors through openings in the windows and doors. These external micro-pollutants can contribute to respiratory issues and allergies.

Apart from that, chemical-based household products that we use within our homes can also pollute the indoor air. These chemicals can linger in the air, potentially leading to health problems such as headaches, dizziness, and respiratory irritation. Understanding the potential hazards of these everyday products can help us make informed choices to minimise their impact on indoor air quality.

Another major factor is changing weather patterns. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels stimulate the growth of mould, mildew, and bacteria. High humidity can create a breeding ground for these microorganisms, while low humidity can lead to dry and irritated respiratory passages.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the various factors that influence indoor air quality, debunking the myth of air pollution and exploring methods to monitor and improve our indoor air quality at home.

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4 myths about Indoor Air Quality

Here are 4 misconceptions about indoor air pollution that many don’t know about.

Myth 1: Indoor air pollution is caused ONLY by outdoor pollution

Fact: While outdoor pollution can contribute to indoor air pollution, it is not the sole source. Indoor air pollution can be caused by chemicals emitted by building materials, furniture, cleaning products or personal care products. Besides that, cooking, smoking indoors or using certain appliances can release pollutants into the indoor air. In fact, indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air due to the accumulation of these sources. Our pets’ furs and dander can contribute to a poor indoor air quality as well.

Myth 2: Opening windows and doors ALWAYS improves indoor air quality

Fact: Opening windows and doors can help improve indoor air quality only if the outdoor air is clean and fresh. In some cases, outdoor air can be highly polluted, especially in urban areas with high traffic or industrial emissions. Opening windows in polluted places can increase the flow of pollutants into the indoor environment, worsen indoor air quality and respiratory conditions for individuals. Therefore, it's essential to consider the outdoor air quality and individual sensitivities before relying solely on ventilation to improve indoor air quality.

Myth 3: Outdoor air pollution is dangerous; therefore, staying indoors WILL prevent one from air pollution

Fact: It is a common misconception that staying indoors can protect one from air pollution. However, indoor air quality can sometimes be worse than outdoor air due to trapped pollutants seeping in from outside. When outdoor air pollution is high, it can infiltrate indoor spaces through leaks, open windows, or ventilation systems, leading to the concentration of pollutants indoors, creating an uncomfortable and potentially unhealthy environment.

Myth 4: Improving indoor air quality requires a SIGNIFICANT investment

Fact: Thanks to the advancements in science and the efforts of consumer electronics companies, there is now a wide range of clean air systems available for different needs. These systems have been mass-produced and made accessible to consumers around the world. Whether it's air purifiers, ventilation systems or other clean air solutions, there are options available to suit various budgets and requirements.

Lady in mask coughing

Health risk associated with poor indoor air quality that you should be aware of

As humans increasingly spend more time in enclosed spaces, ranging from cars and airplanes to offices and high-rise buildings, indoor air quality is now a major consideration.
Indoor air quality can deteriorate depending on the current outside environment like haze, the building condition itself, weather patterns and human activities. Once a person stays in a poor environment for a prolonged period, it can give rise to a condition known as Sick Building Syndrome.

SBS symptoms¹ include headache, eye, nose or throat irritation, dry cough, dry or itchy skin, dizziness and nausea, difficulty in concentrating, fatigue and sensitivity to odours.

The common pollutants and their health effects²

  • PM2.5 (Particulate Matter)

Source: Outdoor/indoor environment, cooking, combustion activities (burning of candles, use of fireplaces, heaters, stoves, fireplaces and chimneys, cigarette smoking), cleaning activities.

Health impact:
- Death risk in people with heart or lung disease
- Nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat
- Aggravated asthma and decreased lung function
- Increased respiratory symptoms

  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

Source: Outdoor/indoor environment, cooking, combustion activities (burning of candles, use of fireplaces, heaters, stoves, fireplaces and chimneys, cigarette smoking), cleaning activities.

Health impact:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
- Damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system
- Some organics can cause cancer

  • Aerosols

Source: Tobacco smoke, building materials, consumer products, incense burning, cleaning, and cooking.

Health impact:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Respiratory diseases
- Allergies
- Lung cancer
- Irritation and discomfort

  • Pesticides

Source: Outdoor environment, termiticides, insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, disinfectants, and herbicides. Building materials such as carpet, textiles, and cushioned furniture.

Health impact:
- Irritation to eye, nose, and throat
- Damage to central nervous system and kidney
- Increased risk of cancer

  • Microorganism

Source: Bacteria, viruses, and fungi are carried by people, animals, and soil and plants.

Health impact:
- Fever
- Digestive problems
- Infectious diseases
- Chronic respiratory illness

IAQ controller on wall

Monitoring Indoor Air Quality at Home

Air quality monitors are devices equipped with one or multiple sensors to identify, monitor and visualize the level of specific air pollutants such as PM2.5, CO2, TVOC’s and other data such as the current temperature and humidity of the environment.3

Particulate Matter devices measures the concentration of airborne particles such as PM2.5 and PM10 while gas detectors can detect and measure specific gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and TVOC’s. Depending on usage, some gas detectors come with a warning system that triggers an alarm if a harmful gas reaches a dangerous concentration level.

However, consumers are lucky these days as many brands offer air quality monitoring devices that combine several of the sensors above for home usage. It is also common for air quality sensors to be built-in to air purifying products as well, though most does not have an alarm.

With the ability to monitor and having easy visualization of the indoor air quality, individuals can proactively create a healthier, more comfortable living environment using various methods to improve their indoor air quality.

7 solutions to freshen the air at home

1. Use air purifier system

Air purifier systems are devices that can help remove pollutants and allergens from the air, such as dust, smoke, and pet dander. They work by drawing air into the device, passing it through a filter that traps pollutants and releasing clean air back into the room.
Using air purifiers can help improve air quality and reduce the risk of respiratory problems.

2. Keep indoor plants

Plants are natural air purifiers that can help remove pollutants and freshen up the air.
Some plants are particularly effective at removing toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. Keeping indoor plants can help create a healthier and more pleasant environment.

3. Maintain good ventilation

Installing a good ventilation system allows fresh air to circulate in the room. This is particularly important in rooms where there may be pollutants such as kitchens and bathrooms. In urban areas, increasing levels of pollution has made the outdoor air unhealthy, therefore a ventilation system is highly recommended.

4. Natural air fresheners

Using natural air fresheners such as essential oils, herbs, and baking soda can help freshen up the air without the use of synthetic fragrances that may contain harmful chemicals. Essential oils can be added to diffusers, while herbs and baking soda can be used to create DIY air fresheners. These natural alternatives can provide a pleasant scent and help improve air quality.

5. Source control

Source control can help improve indoor air quality in several ways, by reducing individual sources of pollution or emissions, for example, you might seal or enclose materials that contain asbestos to prevent fibers from becoming airborne or adjust your gas stove to decrease the number of emissions it produces. Other methods include using low-emitting products, such as paints or cleaning agents.

6. Humidity Control

Dehumidifiers play a crucial role in improving indoor air quality by effectively reducing moisture in the air, preventing the growth of mould and bacteria. Humidity that is too low will cause dry skin, lips, and nose problems while too high would encourage the growth of moulds. To increase humidity, use a humidifier, it is also possible to use the air conditioner dry mode to reduce humidity level as well.

7. Smart Home Solutions

Individual or family can opt for Smart Home Solutions that combines the function of air purifiers, air quality monitoring and ventilation. By continuously monitoring the air quality reading, the equipment will modify its operation to maintain the optimum level of e.g., temperature, humidity, PM2.5 or TVOC’s. More advanced solutions have built-in triggers to warn of dangerous gases as well. Many HVAC companies have begun offering both commercial and even residential solutions as well.

The air we breathe within our homes has a profound impact on our overall well-being. When the air is free from pollutants, allergens and toxins, our respiratory system thrives, boosting our immune system and reducing the risk of respiratory ailments. With every breath, we invite cleaner oxygen into our bodies, energising us and promoting mental clarity. So, let us embark on a journey to unlock the secrets of fresh air for a healthier and more vibrant life.

Mother and daughter reading book in living room featuring Panasonic air conditioner and air purifier

Panasonic nanoe™ X purifies air and surfaces for healthier living

We can greatly improve our indoor air quality by having an air purification system working together with a ventilation system. Ventilation brings in fresh outdoor air and pushes out polluted air. At the same time, air purification systems help to purify additional pollutants that are lurking in the air and on surfaces indoors.

nanoe™ X technology generates huge quantities of hydroxyl radicals to denature and inhibit airborne and adhered pollutants like bacteria and viruses, moulds, allergens, odours, and hazardous substances such as PM2.5.

Naturally, hydroxyl radicals disappear within seconds, but nanoe™ X technology produces hydroxyl radicals that are contained in water, which greatly enhances their lifespan and effectiveness. Due to its small size, nanoe™ X particles penetrate deep in fabric such as curtains and carpets to inhibit pollutants there as well.

Besides that, Panasonic has introduced an Indoor Air Quality solution that combines air conditioning, air purifying and ventilation so you can enjoy 24-hour clean air at the touch of your fingertips via the Panasonic Comfort Cloud App on your mobile phone. The complete air management system for you and your loved ones to breathe fresh, breathe well and live well. Experience a refreshing home today!

To learn more about Panasonic nanoe™ X click here.

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