Do you really know what you are breathing when sitting at home? Europeans spend 90% of their time indoors. But closed environments are not always the healthiest. The latest studies on human exposure to indoor pollution, released today by the European Commission at its Joint Research Centre (JRC) facilities in Ispra (Italy), reveal that indoor environments pose their own threats to health and, in some cases, can be at least twice as polluting as outdoor environments. Hundreds of volatile components have been detected and some of them are toxic, mutagenic or carcinogenic. The number of potential sources is enormous. For instance, up to 20% of Europeans suffer from asthma due to substances inhaled indoor. Tobacco smoke, asbestos, radon and benzene released inside buildings are prime suspects in the increase in cancer cases amongst the European population. The Commission is therefore developing sophisticated analytical methods to provide for a fingerprint of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Measurements are carried out, inter alia, at the EU INDOORTRON “environmental chamber”, and through a network of labs across Europe.
According to European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin: “Traffic and smog are of course major causes of pollution, and we are studying and analysing their impact on human health. But unfortunately smoking and chemical substances sometimes follow us even behind closed doors – at home, at the office, in restaurants and bars. Under certain conditions, we can even be at risk while sitting in our sofa at home, not only while cycling downtown at the rush hour. We are therefore upgrading our indoor pollution monitoring and response capabilities, and we encourage policymakers and public authorities across Europe to address these issues and devise a consistent and effective strategy to solve the problem.”
Not safer at home
Fabio Fabbi | European Commission
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