Dangerous Airborne Substances
Toxic airborne substances are a danger in many workplaces, in some homes, and even out in nature.
In fact, it is estimated that air pollution causes about 7 million deaths worldwide each year.
Oftentimes, these particles are so minute that you won’t see them. While not all of these substances are known to be human carcinogens, they carry many other health hazards.
While you might not be able to avoid all of them, there are some precautionary steps that can be taken to avoid and eliminate these airborne substances.
1. Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are some of the most common forms of indoor air pollution. For allergy sufferers, rampant mold growth or mildew can be nothing short of nightmarish.
While moldy environments might not negatively affect everyone, they can cause upper respiratory infections and other respiratory illnesses.
To control the growth of mold and mildew indoors, make sure you keep an eye on humidity levels, keep hot and damp areas (like the bathroom and kitchen) well ventilated, and ensure that there are no leaks from pipes, windows, or the roof.
2. Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions (DEEEs)
Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions (DEEEs) are gaseous exhaust fumes produced by diesel-based internal combustion engines in vehicles. They predominantly contain nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water.
As a Group 1 carcinogen, DEEEs are known to cause lung cancer and are likely also responsible for causing bladder cancer.
Scientists urge drivers to drive vehicles that take cleaner fuels. Vehicles with diesel engines should be compliant with current EPA regulations regarding emissions. Additionally, retrofitting diesel vehicles with EPA emissions compliant engines can help keep more of these harmful emissions out of the air.
3. Synthetic Vitreous Fibers
Synthetic vitreous fibers contain either calcium silicates or aluminum, as well as metals and other trace oxides.
Wools and filaments are the two main categories of synthetic vitreous fibers. These fibers are not biodegradable, so once they end up in the environment, they remain there.
If you happen to inhale them, they can get into your airways and end up in your lungs. They do break down better than asbestos in the lungs and can eventually get passed in stool.
Exposure to these fibers can result in itchy eyes. Serious cases might involve pulmonary inflammation. This is why workers are encouraged to wear protective gear when working with fibers.
Synthetic vitreous fibers might be somewhat safer to inhale than asbestos.
Asbestos is a fiber using in constructing buildings that, when it gets into the airways, can incubate in the lungs. It is the culprit behind many respiratory ailments and types of cancer, especially Mesothelioma.
If you are living in an older home, it might not be a bad idea to invest in air quality testing services to ensure that your home is asbestos-free.
Chromium is a substance commonly used in metal alloys, such as stainless steel. Although it is highly prized for its ability to be finely polished, chromium is a pathogen, mutagen, and carcinogen.
Chromium VI is the most hazardous form of chromium and can cause the immune system to weaken, ulcers, liver damage. It can be fatal in humans.
There are currently no standards for regulation or mitigation of chromium in place. Chromium contamination in indoor locations is best mitigated through the use of active carbon and ion exchange filtering techniques and water filtration.
Knowing what kinds of hazardous substances might be lingering in the air is half the battle. The other half, of course, is eliminating them. It is best to try to prevent them as much as possible.
However, if they do get into the air in your home or office environment causing lost work time due to illness, it is crucial that they are dealt with sooner rather than later by trained professionals.
Dixie Somers, Freelance Writer