Indoor could be more dangerous than outdoor pollution, doctors say
MANILA, Philippines — Typhoons, earthquake, street crimes — these are just some of the reasons why many people think that staying indoors could be safer than going outside.
Unknown to many, “killers” also lurk inside the home.
While many are worried about outdoor pollution, the World Health Organization (WHO) reminds one to also be wary of indoor pollution, which is also a form of air pollution. WHO estimated that by 2016, at least seven million people globally have died prematurely from illnesses attributable to air pollution. Since air pollution kills millions globally, WHO also calls it “the number one epidemic of our time” and “the greatest environmental threat to human health.”
In 2018, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanm Ghebreyesus called air pollution the “new tabacco” and likened living in a highly polluted city to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Using a class A medical counter that can measure air pollution levels, air quality expert Vinny Lobdell recently showed to the Manila press that there were 920,000 particles per cubic foot of air in an indoor space. According to him, every particle is .3 micron or 900 times smaller than human hair, “so these lung-penetrating particles can directly go to our bloodstream and cause disease.”
“Indoor pollution can be up to 200 times higher than outdoor levels and this means three times of harmful airborne pollutants,” Lobdell warned.
Cooking at very high temperatures, especially as the holidays draw near, can generate ultrafine particles that are known to cause stroke, lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s diseases, dementia, infertility and mood swings, said air quality and hospitality industry expert Antony Papageorgiou.
Besides ultrafine particles, living microorganisms like molds, viruses and bacteria do not only live but even thrive in homes, especially during special occasions such as the holidays, said Papageorgiou. Because the more people there are in a room, the more that they bring air pollutants with them from the outside and into the home.
“If you have daily exposure to respiral particulate matters, which are less than 10 micrometer in diameter, this is significant already to cause asthma attacks and other respiratory disorders,” Dr. Lou Ver Leigh Manzon-Reyes, pediatrician and allergy, pulmonology and asthma specialist, told the press during the Air Intellipure launch.
According to her, a person’s risk of developing allergy is predetermined by his or her family history.
“However, studies now show that even without history of allergy in the family, there’s already a five to 15 percent chance that a person can actually develop allergies. Why? Because of our environmental exposures,” she said.
“So, environmental exposures in terms of volatile organic compounds, allergens, air pollutants, these actually cause epigenetic changes and these changes lead to immune deviation, causing a previously non-allergic person to become actually allergic. And these bad genes can be passed on to subsequent generations.”
Babies and children, who are breathing a lot more air for their body weight, are particularly at risk of indoor air pollution, but so are occupants of sick buildings, construction industry professionals and shared workspace users. Air pollution can also reportedly affect women’s fertility and can possibly cause birth defects, according to Papageorgiou’s research.
Since having children, pilot Nikos Gitsis, who co-founded South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR), has been looking for solutions to improve the indoor air quality in their home. His search led him to establish Air Intellipure Inc., distributor of air filters with patented technologies touted to eliminate up to 99.99 percent of harmful indoor air pollutants.
“My daughter, Scarlet Snow, has allergic rhinitis, she has respiratory issues, just like her dad… We used this machine and after three days, we noticed that we don’t have any problems anymore,” attested celebrity doctor Hayden Kho Jr., sharing that their clinics under the Belo Medical Group would be the first in Asia to be Pure-certified or retrofitted with a seven-step patented process of purification, including air filtration, under the Pure Wellness brand.
“We are in the beauty business. I think if we have polluted air, we get rashes, we get allergies. Even at the cortisol level, our stress hormones, go up, why? Because the moment we have stress in our bodies, we got cortisol, we got bloated… you get dark underarms, dark elbows and all that,” Kho said.
Thus, apart from staying away from indoor and outdoor air pollutants like cigarette smoke, paint and harsh cleaning chemicals, Kho recommends air purification by using air filters in the home.
“People say that you are what you eat but actually, you are the air you breathe," he enthused, echoing his wife, Dr. Vicki Belo. "We only said that because you only eat three times a day, but you breathe 20 times a minute.”