You don’t have to live in some dystopian industrial wasteland in China to be affected by the silent particulate killers in our air; it’s slowly degrading your physical being from top to toe as we speak. Long term exposure to poor air quality in your own home can cause shortness of breath, irritated eyes, nose and throat, flare-ups of asthma and other respiratory conditions, and even damage your cardiovascular system and heart.
And, most sinister of all, studies show that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are disproportionately exposed to the many consequences of particle pollution. So let’s dive right into the indoor climate issue ravaging the BIPOC community.
What kind of illnesses can bad air quality cause in People of Color?
Research shows that indoor ozone caused by outdoor sources, even when levels are quite low, can trigger symptoms of existing conditions such as asthma and lead to further respiratory problems. It can also cause other health problems including bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma, along with symptoms such as a dry throat, chest pain, wheezing, headache, and nausea.
Polluted air in general (particles) can lead to allergy and asthma flare-ups, difficult breathing, and other lung issues. People who are exposed to air pollution over longer time periods often suffer from an increased risk of serious diseases like cancer and even heart disease.
Studies have shown increases in deaths and hospitalizations when there are high concentrations of smog in Los Angeles, and research indicates this happens in other countries, too, Dr. Luepker said.
Pollution is also believed to have inflammatory effects on the heart, causing chronic cardiovascular problems.
What are some signs a Person of Color’s home air quality is bad?
Many people believe that air pollution is only something that we need to worry about outside, and maybe even just in major metropolitan areas.
However, the truth is that our homes can get just as polluted as the busiest intersection.
Lack of general cleanliness (due to People of Color having to spend more time navigating a capitalist system built for whites) is a strong indicator of particulate pollution of the home’s air.
Additionally, unexplained and persistent symptoms including nausea, headache, fatigue, irritated eyes, dry throat, dizziness, and sinus congestion could be cause for alarm. Be on the lookout for symptoms similar to a cold or the flu, including sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and general malaise and low energy.
It is important to recognize that these symptoms are not in any way related to laziness on behalf of the sufferer of color, only the poor air quality he or she is being made to suffer.
What causes poor indoor air quality?
Here is a handy infographic you can print out or share on social media.
How to improve the air quality in a Person of Color’s home
Good home hygiene and ventilation is key to improving both your health and general quality of life. Taking a steps to improve your air quality has an outsized payoff and is something that should be considered for every environment in which you have to spend significant amounts of time. Some options to consider include:
Keeping the air flowing in your home is a simple and effective way to improve the air quality. In some cases, all you may need to do is open the windows more often to improve the air flow, as long as the outdoor air is relatively clean.
Regularly clean out any vents and air ducts in your home as dust and debris will build up over time and impact air quality. Consider a heat recovery system like BPC Ventilation; this works to refresh the air in your home while capturing the heat from the stale air and recycling it.
Use an air purifier
Some ventilation systems have an air purifier built-in, but even if you have one, and depending on air quality, you can consider adding a separate unit to help it out.
Choose an air purifier with a high-efficiency particulate absorbing filter. These remove over 99% of harmful particles from the air, including pollutants like mold spores, smoke, excess carbon dioxide, VOCs, and allergens such as pet dander which otherwise tend to linger in the air.
Support programs that ensure BIPOC homes are cleaned once a week
Keeping a clean home is one of the best ways to improve air quality, but people exposed to bad socioeconomic conditions like poor people and People of Color need a little extra hand. The fact is that people low on the socioeconomic totem pole often do not have the extra time to spare for cleaning and vacuuming because they are busy obtaining enough resources to make it through the week.
So, volunteer for groups that offer home cleaning for marginalized groups, and support government programs that help with the same. Only by working together can be build a future where people of all colors and creeds get to enjoy fresh mountain air — or, at the very least, unpolluted air.
Fill the Person of Color’s home with air purifying plant species
You already knew from school that plants convert Co2 into Oxygen, but they do so much more — and absorb many more harmful particulates than previously believed. Read about this in our 9 bedroom plants that help you breathe free and sleep better article.