What’s smog? Almost half of adults are clueless about air pollution

NEW YORK — Living in a city or breathing in car fumes while in traffic increases your exposure to air pollution, as many studies have shown. Yet, a new survey finds that 46 percent of adults have no idea that air pollution is also a health hazard in their homes.

The recent poll surveyed 2,000 adults on the air quality in their homes. Only 35 percent were concerned about how indoor air pollution will affect their well-being. Of those worried, one in three say they sneeze or have allergic reactions in their homes. Another 26 percent say they feel constant fatigue.

“Indoor pollution worsens symptoms of asthma, COPD, and bronchiectasis. It has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and strokes,” warns Dr. Ranj Singh, who works with Breville, the company commissioning the study, in a statement. “Indoor air pollution is a hidden danger even if you don’t have existing breathing problems, so it’s vital we educate ourselves on the causes. Unlike outdoor pollution, which is directly related to vehicle emissions and industrial by-products, simple daily tasks and our habits can contribute to indoor air pollution, which can also be dangerous.”

Despite the health risks, 46 percent of respondents don’t know what air pollution even consists of. Another 62 percent believe air pollution is only an outdoor problem. However, studies show that smoking indoors, wood-burning stoves, and cleaning products can all contribute to indoor air pollution.

The pet stays no matter what

One way to breathe better air is to eliminate allergens and toxins in the air. That would mean getting rid of bleach or pet hair — which contributes to almost a third of air pollution. However, three in four pet owners say they would rather deal with allergies than get rid of their pet. Another 24 percent would rather suffer through poor air quality than make changes to their current lifestyle. A practical method may be through air purifiers.

“We cannot completely eradicate indoor air pollution, but we can take steps to reduce it, including using household air purifiers,” Dr. Singh comments. “The research shows that very few adults own an air purifier, despite how effective they are at eliminating indoor air pollution, reducing pet and pollen allergens, filtering out harmful germs, and removing unpleasant odors from the home environment.”

Another tip to reduce indoor air pollution is to keep windows open, especially when cooking, to let in fresh air. Another is vacuuming regularly and swapping cleaning products for eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives.

To avoid a build-up of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, researchers recommend keeping homes smoke-free. This ranges from not smoking marijuana and tobacco products to avoiding incense and wood-burning stoves. It’s also a good idea to regularly check for leaks and mold, which can worsen any wheezing or asthma symptoms.

The poll was conducted by OnePoll.

About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

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