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Our homes are designed to protect us from the outdoors, but bad indoor air quality can sometimes get in our way of healthy living. Because modern homes are sealed tight against outdoor elements, indoor air pollutants and substances emitted within our homes can’t escape. As a result, the air inside our homes is often more polluted than outdoor air (even up to 100x’s).

As a growing concern worldwide, we are beginning to recognize the critical role indoor air quality plays in our health and wellness. Understanding indoor air quality and the interplay between indoor pollutants and our bodies is the first step in improving and optimizing your air.

With this in mind, we created a guide that provides an overview of indoor air quality.

Jakarta, Indonesia, 9 July - Air pollution is linked to the loss of an estimated 24,000 lives in Delhi, India in the first half of 2020 despite a strict COVID-related lockdown, according to a new tool that uses live air quality data to track the cost of air pollution in real time. The counter, developed by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and IQAir AirVisual, reveals the impact of air pollution in 28 cities around the world since 1 January, 2020.1

Outdoor air pollution usually makes all the major air quality headlines. 

A flight is canceled to Delhi because smog is too dense.1 A red alert for outdoor air pollution is declared due to record levels of dangerous outdoor pollutants.2 And nearly 7 million people die prematurely each year from causes linked to air pollution, including heart disease and respiratory conditions.3

In comparison, air pollution in your home or office doesn’t seem like breaking news. 

Understanding the relationship between outdoor and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is your strongest weapon against its effects on your health. Your behavior and environment both influence the interaction between indoor and outdoor pollutants, so changing both your habits and your home is crucial to minimizing outdoor air pollution’s effect on indoor air.

With the advent of accurate and reliable low-cost air sensors, economically developing countries experiencing the detrimental human, environmental, and economic impacts of air pollution can establish comprehensive air quality monitoring networks for the first time. Air quality managers in these regions can bypass the traditional notion that air quality data must come exclusively from federal reference method (FRM) or federal equivalent method (FEM) equipment to be useful. Adopting hybrid Air Quality Monitoring 2.0 networks that leverage data from both FRM & FEM equipment and properly-calibrated low-cost sensors allows them to leverage the low costs, high-resolution data coverage, and flexible network design offered by low-cost air sensors to rapidly and cost-effectively establish precisely-located air quality monitoring networks.
Climate change and air pollution both threaten human, environmental, and economic health across the globe, but the relationship between these two crises runs much deeper than initially meets the eye. Recent research has demonstrated a synergistic relationship between air pollution reduction and climate change mitigation. Predictive models of the economic benefits that come with environmental policy find that the co-benefits of improved air quality alone often justify the cost of climate change mitigation programs, even before the climate-related and other benefits of these policies are considered. This finding opens up an incredible opportunity to push for improved environmental policy and action against a rapidly changing climate, with air quality co-benefits providing the local, immediate, and measurable benefits that politicians need to make the business case for climate action.

Air pollution is an “invisible threat” that most people don’t consider in their day-to-day lives, yet it is an issue that affects people around the world in substantial ways. Air pollution can greatly impact the human respiratory system as well as the nervous system, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs, and it accounts for an estimated 7 million deaths per year. Environmental effects of poor air quality may manifest in ecosystem damage, reduction of crop yield, acid rain, and exacerbation of climate change through the release of pollutants like carbon dioxide.

Many individuals and the media tend to focus on air quality only when it becomes exceptionally poor, such as during wildfires, but the benefits of improved air quality can be reaped year-round. To further explore the vast impact that air quality has on human and environmental health, particularly coupled with the impacts of a changing climate, check out our blog on the relationship between air pollution and climate change

Here’s a riddle for you: What is so small that you can only see it from far away?

The answer, of course, is the particulate matter that makes up Beijing smog (or any city’s smog…it’s all pretty small). From a distance, the haze may look dense and thick, but when you’re actually close enough to breathe it, suddenly it’s gone. You can’t make any fine measurements just by looking. It’s not like counting apples in a basket.

We’re forced to make assumptions about the air we’re breathing based on how hazy and grey it looks outdoors, how scratchy our throat feels, or what our phone app says, but we can’t observe particulate matter directly—It’s too small!