The invisible problem of indoor air pollution and why we need to take it seriously

April 08, 2021 12:27 PM

According to Cardiovascular Research published in March 2020 by European Society of Cardiology, average life expectancy has reduced by 3 years worldwide as 8.8 million people die every year due to exposure to ambient air pollution - perhaps far more deadly than tobacco smoking.

indoor air pollutionAir purifiers reduce the chances of acute as well as chronic health issues caused by indoor pollutants by refreshing stale air.

By Kartik Singhal,

According to Cardiovascular Research published in March 2020 by European Society of Cardiology, average life expectancy has reduced by 3 years worldwide as 8.8 million people die every year due to exposure to ambient air pollution – perhaps far more deadly than tobacco smoking. And the case in India is even worse as 21 Indian cities are among the world’s 30 most polluted cities, according to the World Air Quality Report 2019.

The above-mentioned statistics signify the potential damage that indoor air pollution can cause and why it is important to control it before it metastasizes into a full-blown apocalypse.

Indoor Air Pollution Challenges

While the problem of outdoor air pollution is well understood around the world, there is a lack of understanding about the invisible air pollutants indoors and how poor it can be. Some adverse health effects include increased airway responsiveness to allergens, cough, chest tightness, irritation of the mucous membranes, increased incidence of acute respiratory illness, asthma etc. Additionally, there are some chronic health effects as well – impairment of pulmonary function, decreased lung growth, increased susceptibility to chronic obstructive lung diseases etc. The likelihood of reactions to indoor air pollutions is dependent on various factors including pre-existing medical conditions and age.

Further, there is uncertainty about the period of exposure necessary to produce specific health problems as different people react differently. Therefore, it is prudent to take significant measures to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.

What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?

Indoor air quality is influenced by the habits of the residents – fuels used for heating and cooking, customs, traditions and habits; concentrations of outdoor air pollutants; poorly ventilated and confined living space; and characteristics of the building. Additionally, indoor air pollution may arise from gas stoves or badly installed wood-burning units, use of open fires or combustion of biomass fuels; building materials such as wood preservatives, asbestos and cement; tobacco products; volatile organic compounds released by paints, glues, polishing materials, spray propellants, perfumes and cleaning agents; newly installed flooring or carpet; central cooling and heating systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as pesticides and outdoor air pollution.

The relative significance and potential of any single source depends on how much pollution it emits and how hazardous those emissions are. In some cases, factors such as the maintenance of the source or its age are significant. For example, an improperly maintained gas stove emits significantly more carbon monoxide than a new or properly maintained one.

Some of the interventions to reduce harmful yet invisible air pollutants include improved stoves, cleaner fuels, use of pot lids, keeping children away from smoke, ventilation holes and windows, hoods and chimneys etc.

Why we need Air Purifiers?

Air purifiers reduce the chances of acute as well as chronic health issues caused by indoor pollutants by refreshing stale air. They can keep us healthy by eliminating harmful chemicals from indoor environments, neutralising unpleasant odours, removing harmful radon, reducing the chances of airborne diseases, eliminating hazardous asbestos particles and ultimately increase life expectancy. Air purifiers are popularising as there is an increasing lack of ventilation in homes. Apart from installing air purifiers, you can take various other steps to improve your indoor air quality such as growing indoor plants, regular cleaning, using dehumidifiers and maintaining proper ventilation. One of the most advanced active purification technologies known to us is REME PHI – Photo-hydro ionization technology describes the advanced oxidation process utilized in the cell PHI in which Ionized Hydrogen peroxide, superoxide & hydroxyl ions are generated.

Summing Up!

Indoor air pollution is as serious an issue as outdoor air pollution and it is high time to do something before it becomes tomorrow’s climate and health crisis. We need to provide guidance and organise programs to help build the capacity of communities to understand indoor and outdoor health impacts so that they can take significant measures to improve indoor air quality in buildings where they live, learn and work.

(The author is Founder of O2 Cure. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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