Indoor air pollution is one of the leading causes of health issues in the Indian sub-continent. The deteriorating air quality inside homes is mostly affecting women and children as they spend most of their time indoors. In urban city centres, the problem is made severe by pollutants from vehicular exhaust and industrial emissions. These hazardous particles can stay indoors for long periods of time without getting noticed.
The thing about air pollutants is that they can be hiding in plain sight. The particles that causes air pollution are so small that it is almost impossible to see them with naked eyes. But this invisibility also makes them all the more harmful for unsuspecting homeowners and office goers.
If you are also concerned about the rise in air pollution, here’s a list of the top ten sources of air pollution inside your home or office.
Carpeting & Upholstery
Carpets, curtains and velvet upholstery in homes and offices are the most common hiding places for dust and particulate matter. In damp conditions, these materials can also become a haven for bacterial and fungal growths, often causing a persistent odour.
Electronic Equipment & Plastics
Products made from a certain type of plastics also emit harmful elements that can cause hormonal dysfunction. Generally, Polyvinyl Chloride based plastic is known to emit phthalates, which are not good for the health of children, young adults and the elderly. That’s why checking the products for plastic quality is always advised.
Kitchen Stove & Cooking Activities
While natural gas is a relatively cleaner fuel than burning coal or using kerosene stoves, there is still a slight chance of carbon monoxide emissions as a by-product. Prolonged exposure to CO can cause headaches and sustained fatigue. Sometimes, cooking activities can also produce nitrogen dioxide, which is an irritant and can trigger underlying respiratory problems like asthma.
Certain Paints & Varnishes
Giving their home a coat of fresh paint is on the yearly bucket list of most people. However, certain paints can emit volatile organic compounds upon drying, especially enamels. The same is true for varnishes and vinyl coatings found on furniture and wood objects. Exposure to these sometimes triggers headaches and nausea in people.
Adhesives in Furniture and Electronics
Some adhesives make use of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Furniture and electronics using such adhesives may release formaldehyde fumes over time. Generally, the amount of these fumes is too low to be a major health concern for homeowners. But it may be the of cause allergic reactions in people who are working in furniture shops or electronic stores.
Pet Dander & Hair
We love our pets. These little furballs of joy always manage to turn our day around with their antics. But for a healthy home, pet care is very important, something which gets ignored in Indian homes. Pet hair and pet dander float about unnoticed in the ambient air and can often trigger allergic reactions for asthma patients or people with other respiratory syndromes.
Dusting & Housekeeping Activities
Believe it or not, the way we clean our homes also matters. Using brooms generally unsettles the micro dust particles and throws them up in the ambient air. In time, these suspended particles either settle down or gets inhaled by unsuspecting members of the household.
Smoke from Incense Sticks
Yes, even that. Light up an incense stick and hold it below a piece of paper. After some time, the smoke from the incense stick will start discolouring the paper. The carbon and chemicals present in the smoke cause this discolouration.
Broken CFLs & Tube Lights
Compact fluorescent lights are present in almost all homes and offices. While these lights are a viable alternative for bulbs to save energy, accidentally broken CFLs can emit mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin – albeit in tiny amounts.
Pesticides, Disinfectants & Cleaning Agents
The chemicals we use to kill household insects and fungal growth also cause air pollution. If your home does not have proper ventilation, the chemical fumes can remain indoors for quite a while. Prolonged exposure to these elements can irritate eyes, nose and throat. In severe cases, you may need to see a doctor as well.
Chemicals and smoke particles released in the air by smoking cigars and cigarettes remain in the air for a long time. If you smoke or there is a family member who does, it can cause passive smoking among others in the house.
Remedies for Indoor Air Pollution
Here are some simple life hacks that can help you get rid of indoor air pollution.
- Vacuum your carpets and upholstery regularly instead of leaving them for seasonal cleaning sprees.
- Do not place electronics in small enclosures, which may cause them to heat up and release more of the harmful plastic emissions.
- Use a chimney or exhaust fan for the kitchen to remove carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide from accumulating in the ambient air.
- Allow paints and varnishes to dry off properly before moving into freshly painted rooms or using refurbished furnishings.
- Keep your pets groomed and make sure that you are not missing your vet appointments to keep them healthy. It will reduce the amount of hair and dander they shed.
- Use microfiber cloths and mops for dusting and daily housekeeping. These materials absorb the finest dust particles instead of releasing them in the air.
- Clean up broken CFLs and tube lights as quickly as possible and ventilate the area.
- Avoid smoking indoors for the benefit of yourself and others in the house.
- Close off the area where you are planning to use pesticides or insect repellents. Make sure the area is cleaned up and ventilated before allowing kids back in.
Buy Air Purifiers for Home & Office
While the steps mentioned above will help you clean up the indoor air to a certain extent, they are no longer enough for excessively polluted urban environments. The rise in environmental air pollution in metro cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai has made it difficult for homeowners to keep their indoor air clean. To do that, you need special care and products like indoor air purifiers.
High-quality home air purifiers make use of HEPA filters which can remove particles 2.5 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
We hope this blog helped you in better understanding indoor air pollution and will help you in taking care of your health and wellness.