The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a set of guidelines for indoor air quality standards. This standardization regulates the amount of each contaminant that can be tolerated in the air for it to be considered clean. Besides the quantity, it is also important to be aware of the risks of each type of contaminant.
There are many kinds of air pollutants. Each of them carries its risks to human health. The standardization for these contaminants is also different from one to another. Some of the most common ones are:
Particulate Matter (PM)
Particulate matter is any kind of matter that is ultra-small in size. It can be solid or liquid, organic or inorganic. It is so small that it can enter our lungs as we breathe in without even realizing it. The kind of PM that is most dangerous is PM2.5, which is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The safety standard for PM2.5 is 25 micrograms per cubic meter in a 24-hour period.
Humans naturally release carbon dioxide as they exhale. However, it can be dangerous if we inhale it back in a large concentration. Fortunately, plants can absorb the carbon dioxide and process it to be oxygen again for us to breathe in. Hence, planting trees and maintaining the forest is essential to avoid us from breathing in too much carbon dioxide. The safe limit of carbon dioxide in your indoor air is 5,000 ppm in an 8-hour period and 30,000 ppm in a 15-minute period.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. Yet, it can be lethal to humans. The gas is a common emission from fossil fuel burning including from vehicles and several house appliances. It takes only a few minutes for a human to die of CO poisoning. According to the EPA, your indoor air should contain no more than 25 ppm in an 8-hour period.
Nitrogen dioxide can cause inflammation on the inner walls of our lungs. Too much exposure to this chemical compound may lead to various respiratory problems, including lung infection. Unfortunately, this gas is produced by road traffic and fossil fuel combustion, which is pretty common in the city. The safety guideline about this gas in your indoor air is that it should be limited to 100 ppb in one hour.
Methylene chloride is commonly found in aerosol, cleaning solvents, paints, and some other household products. Short-term exposure to this gas may cause drowsiness and nausea. In the long term, it may lead to cancer and nervous system damage. According to the EPA, the odor threshold for this gas is 250 ppm.
Indoor air quality standards depend a lot on the cleanliness of the environment. Hence, it is vital to choose a neighborhood with minimal pollution as a place to live to begin with. Planting trees may also help a lot, as they can work as natural air purifiers. There are many other efforts you can make on top of those to keep your indoor air clean.