This week the International Energy Agency released a report urging nations to develop lower polluting energy policies, stating that a 7% increase in energy investments could save 3 million lives each year. But where does home pollution fit in?
Currently outdoor pollution is attributed to 3.5 million deaths each year, while home and office pollution causes 3 million deaths worldwide.
While it’s great to see air pollution in the news, the conversation again focuses on outdoor emissions where we spend only 10% of our time and attributes much of the issue to developing countries. It’s easy to say this is someone else’s problem and paint the picture as too big for the average person to solve.
Meanwhile we spend 90% of our time indoors, where air is 2-5 times worse than outdoors right here in the U.S.. Indoor air pollution doesn’t receive much attention by legislators, although the passage of the Toxic Control Substance Act Reform earlier this month was a step forward.
Maybe it’s because indoor pollution has no main source such as coal and cars outside. With so many offgassing, everyday products inside the question isn’t “what is polluting my home”, it’s “what isn’t?” In many ways indoor pollution is a complex problem to solve because of this.
Maybe it’s because there’s no silver bullet solution. Mandating HEPA purifiers in every home isn’t going to solve the problem. There are too many types of pollutants. Mandating a tighter building shell to help with efficiency didn’t work. Ventilation remains poorly addressed and continuing to let everyday products emit VOCs has only increased home pollution. Oops.
Let’s not allow complexity scare us away from a core health issue. The air we breathe is too important to let home pollution slide. This day and age though, no one has time to spend on another problem. Wouldn’t it be great if someone handled our air quality for us, taking it from “yikes” through “meh” to “nice”?
Yep, it sure would.