The air in our houses can be more polluted than outside. Without even realizing it, when we are at home we could breathe substances five times as polluting as the outdoor ones. When we think about a comfortable, pleasant to live in, beautiful house, we sometimes forget the need to safeguard the quality of the air we breathe in domestic spaces.
Research activities carried out by the CNR-IBM of Palermo show us we are often convinced that the problems associated with allergenes are related to the open air. Indeed, indoors there are plenty of substances acting as irritating agents and as elements causing asthma attacks or airway inflammations: tobacco smoke, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons generated by cooking, dust mites and substances released by furniture and curtains. For instance, a study conducted last year in the USA by a team of researchers at George Washington University has identified 45 dangerous suspended chemicals in 90% of dust samples taken in the examined houses. Among them, phtalates and phenols, notoriously harmful for the reproductive system and potentially carcinogenic, as well as fluorinated compounds, dangerous for the digestive system and the nervous system.
All the disorders related to indoor pollution are known as “sick building syndrome”.
Among the substances harmful to humans we can quote:
• formaldehyde already indicated by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) in 2004;
- VOCs, volatile organic compounds, causing the so-called “sick building syndrome”. They can be found in places or products forming part of our daily life and we are most likely unaware users. Paints, glues, furniture and fabrics, printers, tobacco smoke, insecticides but also cosmetics, deodorants and household cleaning products contain such organic compounds whose particles cause irritation to our eyes, nose and throat, headache, nausea, dizziness, asthma, all the way up to more serious diseases;
- legionella, which may derive from conditioning systems;
- mildews, originated from poor ventilation of premises, from condensation building up on window fixtures and from the differenece between indoor and outdoor temperatures;
- radon (86 RN), which, constituting a danger for human health, is one the main enemies of domestic wellness. Radon is a gas that can be found all over the Earth’s crust in variable quantities, for this reason the ground is the main source of radon getting into our houses; it may disperse into the atmosphere or in water, contributing in such a way to their pollution: even though radon concentration never achieves high levels indoors, nevertheless it may attain values posing a significant risk for human health. Radon is a natural-occurring, odourless, tasteless, colourless, radioactive and very volatile gas. We do not perceive its presence, that’s why it is dangerous. It is the main indoor radiation source: indeed watertight doors and window frames or non-transpiring walls “seal” buildings and, as a result, radon gets trapped in them. The World Wealth Organization (WHO), through the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has classified radon as the second most important cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoke. It is the first one for nonsmokers.
Ozone (O3), volatile organic compounds and radon are well known carcinogens.
People suffering from allergies should not underestimate such a problem. Domestic pollution acts in itself as an irritative agent for those who are at risk and increases the sensitivity to specific elements and, consequently, the reaction to certain substances.
But if the USA quantify the problem, also Italy must come to terms with “sick buildings”.
The National Prevention Plan 2014-2018 – as claimed, in fact, by Gaetano Settimo, coordinator of the National Working Group on Indoor Pollution of the Italian National Health Institute – has estimated that the annual healthcare costs of indoor pollution-related diseases are 200 million euros and such pollution is highly damaging to children, pregnant women and the elderly.
A good airing always helps, anyhow it is only an initial step …
Our sanitization systems can neutralise VOCs so ensuring long-term benefits.
The titanium dioxide photocatalytic oxidation method creates a chemical reaction transforming up to 80% of formaldehyde in the air into an inert substance, as certified by specific laboratory tests.
Therefore we will be able to improve air quality in your houses without particularly intrusive interventions and, more importantly, without generating more pollution.