Do we live in a healthy building?

Indoor pollution

Indoor pollution

stanza o ufficio con tavolo, sedie e piante

Many existing buildings house and release pollutants into the environment. In parallel with the growing desire to improve the quality of life and the environmental sustainability of buildings, the issue of improving the quality of the air in our living environments has been raised.

There is also indoor pollution in homes, offices, schools, shops and shopping centres. There is also indoor pollution in industrial workplaces, but this is regulated by specific laws.

Here, however, we will deal with housing, commercial activities and public buildings.

Below are the causes that can lead to diseases resulting from indoor pollution.

Chronic respiratory diseases

fumo che si disperde in casa

Air pollutants

Related pathologies

Chronic respiratory diseases

fumo che si disperde in casa

Air pollutants

Related pathologies

Chronic respiratory diseases

Among the chronic diseases that affect the world's population, respiratory diseases, asthma and allergies represent a wide range of serious conditions, with an increasing trend expected in the coming years. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the increase in the frequency of these diseases is related to changes in lifestyles, urbanisation and the increasing tendency of Western populations to live most of the time in closed, poorly ventilated environments with hot and humid microclimates and high levels of chemical pollutants and allergens.

Over the last few decades, the scientific and institutional world has paid particular attention to problems related to the quality of air in confined spaces , and an increasing awareness of the importance of health and comfort issues in confined spaces has developed. A topic of particular interest and of considerable social relevance is the relationship between indoor air pollution and the respiratory health of people who spend a lot of time in closed environments used for living, leisure, study, work and transport.

The respiratory system is the gateway tovarious airborne indoor contaminants. These are mainly combustion products, biological agents/bioaerosols (viruses, bacteria, fungi, pet products, etc.), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), radon (and its decay products) and carbon monoxide.

raggi x cassa toracica donna

Chronic respiratory diseases

raggi x cassa toracica donna

Among the chronic diseases that affect the world's population, respiratory diseases, asthma and allergies represent a wide range of serious conditions, with an increasing trend expected in the coming years. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the increase in the frequency of these diseases is related to changes in lifestyles, urbanisation and the increasing tendency of Western populations to live most of the time in closed, poorly ventilated environments with hot and humid microclimates and high levels of chemical pollutants and allergens.

Over the last few decades, the scientific and institutional world has paid particular attention to problems related to the quality of air in confined spaces , and an increasing awareness of the importance of health and comfort issues in confined spaces has developed. A topic of particular interest and of considerable social relevance is the relationship between indoor air pollution and the respiratory health of people who spend a lot of time in closed environments used for living, leisure, study, work and transport.

The respiratory system is the gateway tovarious airborne indoor contaminants. These are mainly combustion products, biological agents/bioaerosols (viruses, bacteria, fungi, pet products, etc.), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), radon (and its decay products) and carbon monoxide.

Where air pollutants are present

Where air pollutants are present

fumo inquinante casa
In general, pollutants are present in indoor air in such concentrations that, although they do not cause acute effects, they do cause adverse effects on human health and well-being, especially when linked to high exposure times. Complex mixtures of pollutants, even at low concentrations, can cause harmful effects over time on the health of susceptible people: children, pregnant women, the elderly, people suffering from asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

The European Environment Agency has highlighted how indoor pollution levels are affected by:

  • Carpets
  • Household appliances
  • Aeration
  • Air quality
  • Construction material
  • Cleaning products
  • Example products: furniture
  • Example behaviour: smoking
  • Building maintenance

Sempre l’Agenzia Europea per l’Ambiente ha ribadito ancora una volta come in passato la questione dell’inquinamento atmosferico in ambienti confinati abbia ricevuto di gran lunga meno attenzione rispetto al tema dell’inquinamento atmosferico in spazi aperti. Negli ultimi anni tuttavia the threats posed by exposure to indoor air pollution have become more apparent. These are all pollutants that undermine the healthiness of the buildings where, today, we spend around 90% of our lives.

Related pathologies - BRI

Occupants of buildings with poor indoor air quality complain of symptoms similar to those of SBS, namely:

  • Cough
  • Thoracic oppression
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever
  • Shivers
  • Muscle pain

The occupants slowly improve after leaving the building.
ragazza che starnutisce

Related pathologies - BRI

ragazza che starnutisce
Occupants of buildings with poor indoor air quality complain of symptoms similar to those of SBS, namely:

  • Cough
  • Thoracic oppression
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever
  • Shivers
  • Muscle pain

The occupants slowly improve after leaving the building.

Related diseases - ODTS

Related diseases - ODTS

termometro che mostra temperatura

Toxic organic dust syndrome occurs as a result of exposure to confined environments with an excessive concentration of fungi in the air, due to humidification systems contaminated with biological agents.

Symptoms are similar to those of influenza and appear a few hours after exposure with fever, malaise and difficulty breathing. Symptoms also appear 4-8 hours after returning to the contaminated site after an absence of a few days and recede within a week.

Extrinsic allergic alveolitis is manifested by recurrent pneumonias or attacks of dyspnoea, also linked to flu-like symptoms.

The disease develops as an inflammatory reaction due to the presence of an allergen in the bronchioles and alveoli. It occurs in closed environments where ventilation systems are contaminated with agents such as protozoa, fungi and bacteria.

Exposure to wood dust, for example, can be responsible for organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS).

Related diseases - MCS

Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (MCS) is a chronic disorder, reactive to exposure to chemicals, a livelli inferiori rispetto a quelli generalmente tollerati da altri individui, e in assenza di test funzionali in grado di spiegare segni e sintomi. Generalmente la sintomatologia si manifesta dopo un’esposizione o una ritenuta esposizione ad agenti ambientali, spesso segnalata come percezione di uno o più odori; talvolta però no temporal relationship between symptoms and exposure can be demonstrated. Il quadro sintomatologico, che in genere tende a regredire a seguito della rimozione dell’agente chimico implicato, comprende numerous and specific multi-organ disorders. Generalmente sono interessati il sistema nervoso e almeno un altro organo o apparato. Il quadro può presentare vari gradi di severità, dal solo malessere e discomfort fino a una grave compromissione della qualità di vita. Symptoms of MCS:

  • Sense of tiredness
  • Nausea and tachycardia
  • Headaches, dizziness, memory loss
  • Anxiety, depression, mental disorders
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Gastrointestinal and respiratory tract disorders

Other hypotheses believe that the syndrome is characterised by stress-induced disorders, mainly developed by the feeling of immediate danger from exposure to unknown substances or that it is a complex psychosomatic syndrome. The syndrome may be related to an individual susceptibility condition, rather than to the toxicity of the substances.
malessere per sintomo dell'edificio malato

Related diseases - MCS

malessere per sintomo dell'edificio malato
Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (MCS) is a chronic disorder, reactive to exposure to chemicals, a livelli inferiori rispetto a quelli generalmente tollerati da altri individui, e in assenza di test funzionali in grado di spiegare segni e sintomi. Generalmente la sintomatologia si manifesta dopo un’esposizione o una ritenuta esposizione ad agenti ambientali, spesso segnalata come percezione di uno o più odori; talvolta però no temporal relationship between symptoms and exposure can be demonstrated. Il quadro sintomatologico, che in genere tende a regredire a seguito della rimozione dell’agente chimico implicato, comprende numerous and specific multi-organ disorders. Generalmente sono interessati il sistema nervoso e almeno un altro organo o apparato. Il quadro può presentare vari gradi di severità, dal solo malessere e discomfort fino a una grave compromissione della qualità di vita. Symptoms of MCS:

  • Sense of tiredness
  • Nausea and tachycardia
  • Headaches, dizziness, memory loss
  • Anxiety, depression, mental disorders
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Gastrointestinal and respiratory tract disorders

Other hypotheses believe that the syndrome is characterised by stress-induced disorders, mainly developed by the feeling of immediate danger from exposure to unknown substances or that it is a complex psychosomatic syndrome. The syndrome may be related to an individual susceptibility condition, rather than to the toxicity of the substances.

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