Indoor vs outdoor air, which is more contagious?

February 13, 2021 3:15 PM

Exposure to indoor and outdoor air impurities may increase an individual's risk for morbidity and mortality from a variety of different conditions in multiple organ systems.

air pollutionIndoor air pollution can be substantially more destructive because it impacts us every day in areas where we spend 80% of our time at home, office, schools, and colleges

By Ankit Sharma,

Exposure to indoor and outdoor air impurities may increase an individual’s risk for morbidity and mortality from a variety of different conditions in multiple organ systems. These exposures cause respiratory diseases. Air pollution may also cause sensory irritation and decrease well-being. We are arguably spending most of our time inside than ever during the coronavirus pandemic. We all are aware that Air pollution is the most significant ecological concern in the present time. When people think of outdoor air pollution, the first thing that strikes a chord is smog & vehicle emissions; however, indoor air pollution is much more threatening. Air contaminants kill approximately seven million human beings worldwide every year. WHO statistics specify that 9 out of 10 human beings breathe air that surpasses WHO guidelines, containing excessive pollutants. From brown haze striking over towns to smoke in the home, air pollutants represent a significant peril to human wellbeing and climate. The consolidated outdoor and indoor air pollution results cause untimely deaths due to stroke, coronary, heart disorder, persistent obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancers, and acute respiratory infections.

Indoor air pollution can be substantially more destructive because it impacts us every day in areas where we spend 80% of our time at home, office, schools, and colleges. The level of indoor air pollution is usually higher than outdoor pollution. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have become more cautious about sanitizing their homes with sprays and disinfecting wipes. Although these products are useful for virus destruction, certain disinfecting products contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which can fuel respiratory infections and asthma. They are often produced by paints, cleaners, and other off-gassing items, and one of the easiest ways to get rid of VOCs in your home is through ventilation.

The old adage goes, “Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant,” but it is the invisible ultraviolet (UV) part of sunlight that gets the job done. Early observations of UV light’s disinfecting power led to the creation of modern germicidal ultraviolet irradiation (UVGI) systems that combat any number of dangerous pathogens. We have seen the COVID-19 pandemic travel through the globe in a matter of days. Outbreaks are much more frequent, as in the last 20 years we have encountered many near misses, such as swine flu, bird flu, and SARS.

UVC is very effective in destroying microorganisms or inactivating them, but this form of UV light is harmful to humans. UVGI cleverly uses UVC light in the upper room to create an irradiation field over the heads of room occupants, so that the air can be disinfected while keeping people healthy in the room. Covid-19 also spreads through the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles via minute respiratory droplets.

UVGI technology development can help us bring down the danger of infection in enclosed spaces such as homes, offices, institutional buildings, and others. UVGI is a well-established technology and is effective in combating SARS-CoV-2.

(The author is Director, Airific Systems Pvt. Ltd. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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