Fresh air for health
90%. Sounds like a good score on a test, right? Well, in this case, it’s a bad number! It’s estimated that Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, according to EPA research. And this statistic is cited often. As recently as 2011, the EPA cited this number in its “Report on the Environment: Indoor Air.” However, the research that generated this number was part of a report to Congress in 1989. So how much stock can be placed in this statistic, or does the number even matter? Perhaps the more important issue — the one that is clear — is that people of all ages are spending more time inside and less time outside. This matters because time outside is important for good health.
For starters, people must breathe to live, obviously. And according to the EPA’s 2011 report, the amount of indoor “pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.” So yes, fresh air really is that important!
Researchers are constantly learning more about the health impacts of indoor air. For example, the EPA report explains that there is now something called “sick building syndrome,” which is when several people experience similar symptoms that only occur in a specific building.
Adults aren’t the only ones spending more time inside. Children, too, are less involved in activities that get them outdoors. And family activities that used to get people out of the house are also falling. In fact, in an article in Prevention, Sarah Mahoney states, “Annual family vacations have decreased by 28%, while national park attendance has fallen steadily.”
To offset the negative impacts of indoor air, people need to breathe fresh air as much as possible. Get outside, and take your family members and friends with you! There’s plenty to do outside those walls!