But why would non-drinkers smoke more than wine-drinkers and exercise less than any of the other groups? The vast majority of alcoholics are smokers — who very often continue to smoke while abstaining from alcohol. This would also be true of non-alcoholic ex-drinkers who stopped drinking because of health problems. It would be no surprise to find higher rates of cardiovascular disease among nondrinkers who smoke more than light drinkers — an effect not due to the difference in drinking behavior.
These problems have increased with the construction of buildings that are designed to be more airtight and that recycle air with a smaller proportion of new air from the outside in order to be more energy efficient. The fact that buildings that do not offer natural ventilation present risks of exposure to contaminants is now generally accepted.
The term indoor air is usually applied to nonindustrial indoor environments: Concentrations of contaminants in the indoor air of these structures are usually of the same order as those commonly found in outdoor air, and are much lower than those found in air in industrial premises, where relatively well-known standards are applied in order to assess air quality.
Even so, many building occupants complain of the quality of the air they breathe and there is therefore a need to investigate the situation.
Indoor air quality began to be referred to as a problem at the end of the s, although the first studies did not appear until some ten years later. Although it would seem logical to think that good air quality is based on the presence in the air of the necessary components in suitable proportions, in reality it is the user, through respiration, who is the best judge of its quality.
This is because inhaled air is perceived perfectly through the senses, as human beings are sensitive to the olfactory and irritant effects of about half a million chemical compounds.
Consequently, if the occupants of a building are as a whole satisfied with the air, it is said to be of high quality; if they are unsatisfied, it is of poor quality. Does this mean that it is possible to predict on the basis of its composition how the air will be perceived?
Yes, but only in part. This method works well in industrial environments, where specific chemical compounds related to production are known, and their concentrations in the air are measured and compared with threshold limit values.
But in nonindustrial buildings where there may be thousands of chemical substances in the air but in such low concentrations that they are, perhaps, thousands of times less than the limits set for industrial environments, the situation is different.
The situation is comparable to what happens with the detailed composition of an item of food and its taste: For this reason, when a ventilation system and its regular maintenance are being planned, an exhaustive chemical analysis of indoor air is rarely called for.
Another point of view is that people are considered the only sources of contamination in indoor air. This would certainly be true if we were dealing with building materials, furniture and ventilation systems as they were used 50 years ago, when bricks, wood and steel predominated.
But with modern materials the situation has changed. All materials contaminate, some a little and others much, and together they contribute to a deterioration in the quality of indoor air. These are illustrated in figure Although poor indoor air quality results in fully developed illness in only a few cases, it can give rise to malaise, stress, absenteeism and loss of productivity with concomitant increases in production costs ; and allegations about problems related to the building can develop rapidly into conflict between the occupants, their employers and the owners of the buildings.
In addition, for many contaminants present in the air, the effects of acute exposure are well known, whereas there are considerable gaps in the data regarding both long-term exposures at low concentrations and mixtures of different contaminants.
The concepts of no-effect-level NOELharmful effect and tolerable effect, already confusing even in the sphere of industrial toxicology, are here even more difficult to define.
There are few conclusive studies on the subject, whether relating to public buildings and offices or private dwellings. Series of standards for outdoor air quality exist and are relied on to protect the general population.
They have been obtained by measuring adverse effects on health resulting from exposure to contaminants in the environment. These standards are therefore useful as general guidelines for an acceptable quality of indoor air, as is the case with those proposed by the World Health Organization.
Technical criteria such as the threshold limit value of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists ACGIH in the United States and the limit values legally established for industrial environments in different countries have been set for the working, adult population and for specific lengths of exposure, and cannot therefore be applied directly to the general population.
Another aspect that should be considered as part of the quality of indoor air is its smell, because smell is often the parameter that ends up being the defining factor.
Smell is therefore very important when defining the quality of indoor air. While odours objectively depend on the presence of compounds in quantities above their olfactory thresholds, they are very often evaluated from a strictly subjective point of view.
It should also be kept in mind that the perception of an odour may result from the smells of many different compounds and that temperature and humidity may also affect its characteristics. From the standpoint of perception there are four characteristics that allow us to define and measure odours: The attempt to mask bad odours with good ones usually ends in failure, because odours of very different qualities can be recognized separately and lead to unforeseeable results.
It is evidenced by a variety of physical and environmental problems associated with non-industrial indoor environments. The most common features seen in cases of sick building syndrome are the following: Thus, ventilation is cited as an important contributory factor in the majority of cases.
Another question of a different nature is that of building-related illnesses, which are less frequent, but often more serious, and are accompanied by very definite clinical signs and clear laboratory findings.
Examples of building-related illnesses are hypersensitivity pneumonitis, humidifier fever, legionellosis and Pontiac fever. A fairly general opinion among investigators is that these conditions should be considered separately from sick building syndrome.
Studies have been done to ascertain both the causes of air quality problems and their possible solutions. In recent years, knowledge of the contaminants present in indoor air and the factors contributing to a decline in indoor air quality has increased considerably, although there is a long way to go.
Studies carried out in the last 20 years have shown that the presence of contaminants in many indoor environments is higher than anticipated, and moreover, different contaminants have been identified from those that exist in outside air.Along with nicotine, smokers inhale about 7, other chemicals in cigarette smoke.
Many of these chemicals come from burning tobacco leaf. Some of these compounds are chemically active and trigger profound and damaging changes in the body.
Tobacco smoke contains over 60 known cancer-causing chemicals. Vitamin E is found naturally in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement.
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High levels of NADH in mitochondria can cause an increase in the number of superoxide (O ) free radicals leaked from oxidative phosphorylation — leading to the formation of hydroxyl radicals .
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