Indoor air pollution
Indoor air pollution can
affect you at home, work, or even places you visit. It can increase your risk of a respiratory disease, such as
asthma, allergies, and lung cancer. Indoor air pollution can be worse in
winter, when windows are shut tight and less fresh air can circulate. A study found that three pollutants commonly found in houses have the greatest effect on health:1
- Formaldehyde, which is released mainly by building materials.
- Acrolein, which comes from heating cooking oil to high temperatures and from cigarette smoke.
- Tiny particles, called respirable particulates, that can get into the lungs. A common source of respirable particulates is tobacco smoke.
tips for reducing indoor air pollution.
One of the most common and toxic indoor air pollutants is
cigarette smoke. Experts believe about 90% of lung cancers
are caused by cigarette smoke.2 Smoking, or even
secondhand smoke, increases your risk of
heart attack and
Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals, some of which can cause cancer. If you are a
nonsmoker and household members or coworkers will not stop smoking around you,
ask that they smoke only in well-ventilated or isolated areas. Never smoke
around children or allow them to be exposed to cigarette smoke, especially if
they have asthma or allergies.
Exposure to cigarette
smoke causes wheezing, coughing, and extra mucus (phlegm) in many children.
Secondhand smoke also can cause fluid to build up in the inner ear, which can
ear infections. Lower respiratory infections, such as
bronchitis, are also risks. Sometimes these types of
infections become serious enough to require a hospital stay, especially when
they develop in babies and young children.3
Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).4
Cigarette smoke may cause asthma in children.4 Also, children with
asthma who are exposed to cigarette smoke have more attacks and more severe
symptoms than other children with asthma.4
See information on the
increased impact of environmental illnesses on children. For example, in recent years, the number of children with
asthma has more than doubled, and environmental causes are suspected.