So you think that by staying at home you are safe from all the terrible kinds of pollution present outdoors, such as in or near factories, roads, and garbage dumps? Do you think that by staying in your office you are breathing cleaner, safer air than when you go outside for lunch or are on the way back home from work? Think again. Recent research done at the University of Texas has shown that staying indoors may actually be more harmful to one's health than being outdoors even in smoggy cities.
Apparently, we are safe neither at home nor in the business office. We use water in both places, but the above-mentioned research shows that chemicals added to our local water supply to kill harmful bacteria can have unwanted side effects. These chemicals can cause potential harm through drinking and in seemingly harmless activities as cleaning one's house. These additives are released from water by daily actions like water running out of faucets, spraying from garden hoses, or splashing in dishwashers and washing machines. As the water is agitated, these chemicals are released into the air and then breathed in. Once inside our bodies, they start to affect our health adversely.
Does this mean we should stop bathing? No, say the scientists, but we should put all pollution into perspective. Activities at home such as the burning of propane, coal, cooking oil, or even candles and incense release carbon monoxide and particulates such as soot which have been proven as harmful to health as working or living near high-density traffic. New rugs, bedding, and even clothing give off that "new smell," which is a sure sign of chemicals. In the office, newly applied paint, newly purchased telephones and other telecommunications equipment, and computers and their peripherals release polluting chemicals, too. As offices and homes often have inadequate ventilation, these chemicals can build up to become health nuisances. Their toxic effects are only now being slowly recognized.
These facts suggest that, at a minimum, proper airing of newly purchased goods with an obvious chemical smell is a wise precaution. Home and office windows should be opened during good weather to allow a flushing of stale air. Even one's car needs to be ventilated as well as the garage.
We need further research to understand better other potential health hazards, too. For example, the effect of overcrowding of schools (carbon dioxide build-up), factory work environments (an endless list of potentially dangerous substances), and even home heating and cooling (the furnace and air conditioner may be our enemies, not our friends) have only recently started to come to light. Until we understand the effects of our new technological environment better, we can only hope that "there is no place like home."