Haven’t we all waited to get home and crash on the sofa, far from the madding crowd of dust and smoke?
Spoiler alert: Seeing isn’t believing. Chances are, the air quality in our homes may be worse.
Enough study has been done on indoor air pollution to awaken us to its dangers. Simply put, the limited ventilation indoors means that pollutants are not adequately cleared away.
Indoor air pollution causes 2 million deaths annually, a sizeable number of which are premature.
Not just lower-income groups are affected by air pollution indoors, owing to common factors like solid fuel burning. Any average indoor space is impacted by a wide range of pollutants. These include VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), dust and pollen settled in fibrous items like mats and rugs, cigarette smoke, and other emerging pollutants.
So exactly how bad is indoor air pollution?
Quite bad, research finds. In the short term, it causes problems like eye irritation, sore throat and runny nose. The long term health impacts can be far more serious, and include lung cancer, heart disease, and other serious respiratory problems. Recent study has also found that long term exposure to particulate matter increases the risk of mortality associated with COVID-19.
An article published by WHO and Gates Foundation describes household air pollution as having a gendered impact. Women are exposed much more to the harmful effects of solid fuel burning. The same goes for the elderly at home, whose longevity is impacted by indoor air pollution.
Children are impacted in terms of the ratio of pollutants taken in as against body mass. Added to this is the fact that they have smaller bronchioles or airways. This increases the chances of respiratory congestion due to pollutant pileup.
How can I deal with indoor air pollution?
While you can’t wave a wand to transform the quality of the air around you, you can certainly follow precautions that will go a long way in improving air quality indoors.
Ensure proper ventilation indoors, particularly in spaces like the kitchen where combustion happens.
Switch to home-made cleaning solutions to limit the emission of VOCs.
Leave footwear outside your home.
Use water to wipe and clean dusty surfaces. Regularly wipe mats, rugs and meshes for dust removal.
Avoid visiting a newly painted building for two-four weeks, as this is when VOC emission is highest.
Ensure workspaces are clean and dust-free. Sick building syndrome can have a chronic impact on workforce health and productivity.
Depending on your affordability, use dehumidifiers and commercial air purification systems
Wherever possible, use clean means of combustion. This would include:
1. Using induction or gas stoves, or cheaper alternatives like Gobar gas in place of solid fuel.
2. Using substances like essential oils to provide fragrance, instead of burning incense.
3. Using inverters which use electric energy, over generators which burn petroleum.
We at Devic Earth would like to remind you of how precious your health is. Let’s fight pollution together and foster a good life for ourselves and subsequent generations on earth.