HOW INDOOR AIR POLLUTION AFFECTS YOUR HEALTH
We live in a world where air pollution is rising by the day. Whether it is due to industrial smoke or vehicular exhaust, air pollution is increasing in metro cities cross the world. Recently, it was reported that the air pollution in Delhi, India was so high that breathing the air in that city was alike to smoking 15-20 cigarettes per day! While air pollution is harmful to everyone, it is especially troublesome for children, the elderly and those who are already sick.
As people are getting more environmentally conscious, they are beginning to understand that quality of air equals to quality of life. Climate change is resulting in shocking statistics like seven million deaths a year owing to air pollution. But how deep an impact does indoor air pollution have on a human’s health? Let’s find out!
How is indoor air pollution caused?
The excessive use of air conditioners, painted surfaces, carpets, and furnishings are some of the major contributors to indoor air pollution. Burning fuels such as dung, coal and wood in open hearths or inefficient stoves produces a variety of health-damaging pollutants that include particulate matter, methane, carbon monoxide, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds. Burning kerosene in wick lamps also produces substantial emissions of pollutants and fine particles.
Household air pollution is one of the leading causes of disease and premature deaths. Here’s a staggering statistic that will wake you up to the perils of indoor air pollution – exposure to smoke from cooking fires causes 3.8 million premature deaths each year! From respiratory illnesses to cancer and eye problems, exposure to indoor air pollutants can lead to a wide range of adverse health outcomes in both children and adults.
As is with most diseases, children are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of indoor air pollution. Children have narrower airways than adults. Due to this, irritation caused by air pollution that would produce only a slight response in an adult, can result in potentially significant obstruction in the airways of a young child. Indoor air pollution also impacts academic performance of children as it lowers their concentration levels and increases absenteeism due to allergies and asthma. Indoor air pollution weakens lungs and reduces immunity, making children more vulnerable to infectious airborne illness like cold and flu. Indoor air pollution also impacts the development of the nervous and immune system of children as well as their endocrine glands.
Indoor air pollution poses a great threat to women as well, especially to those women who are housewives and stay indoors throughout the day. Because several households use solid biomass for cooking, the resulting high level of toxic pollutants, oil vapours and smoke density increase the risk of respiratory infection, cataracts, lung cancer, cardiovascular and other diseases. Cleansers, varnishes, and air fresheners are also responsible for indoor air pollution. These products cause greater air pollution as they spread toxins all over the house. Paints also do much damage to indoor air quality.
One of the ways in which you can protect yourself from the harmful effects of indoor air pollution is by spreading awareness about it. You should also remove the offending source that’s causing the pollution. For instance, if you detect excessive radon levels in your home, set up a suitable radon mitigation system to bring radon levels within acceptable limits. While you’re at it, it is a great idea to improve ventilation. Opening windows and allowing the household air to exchange with air outdoors will decrease levels of many pollutants in your home. Breathing cleaner air will allow your lungs to work better, making you mentally keen and more energetic.
If you want to purify the air in your home, it is time to invest in a good air purifier which will not only eliminate allergens such as dust and pet odor, but also trap tobacco and cigarette smoke, thus preventing lung disease. In addition, a good-quality air purifier removes outside fumes and pollutants in urban environments so your air is clean and pure to breathe!