Air quality is a common topic we all learn in schools. But if we delve deep into the topic, we will find out the different aspects of air pollution that we need to understand. One such concern is indoor air pollution, especially in India.
We always assume that our outdoor air is worse than the indoor environment, poor due to the presence of vehicles, industries, etc. But the World Health Organisation (WHO,2016) reported a higher number of deaths and diseases due to indoor air pollution. The number of deaths due to household pollution was reported as 4.3 million in developing countries and 3.7 million due to outdoor pollution (WHO,2012).
Indoor air pollution is a problem of both the urban and the rural areas. In rural areas, people use biomass, wood and fossil fuels for cooking purpose and are thus exposed to smoke and fine dust. The smoke emitted from the fuels constitute of complex chemical compounds that are harmful to health.
In urban areas, the problem is more complex. The use of different house cleaning agents, deodorants cause accumulation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (formaldehyde, benzene etc.) inside the home. Apart from this presence of biological organisms (bacteria, fungi, mold) especially during monsoon is also common. The presence of particulate matter is inevitable in any environment due to cleaning activities at home, the presence of dust on carpets, furnishings, furniture etc. It was also reported that almost 25% of indoor pollution is contributed by outdoor air. Statistics show that in both urban and rural areas, it’s the women and children who are at higher risk from exposure to pollutants.
While we discussed the indoor air pollution of homes, just imagine the pollution of our enclosed office spaces where thousands of occupants breathe emitting carbon dioxide, or carry dust in their footwear. Or think about our educational institutions most of which do not maintain proper cleanliness. All this deteriorate the indoor air quality. Research shows, poor air quality causes sick building syndrome (symptoms of dizziness, nausea, headache), poor concentration and productivity and leads to absenteeism due to short or long term health effects.
While some amount of pollution is obvious, measures may be taken to reduce them.
- Placing indoor air quality plants in homes (Aloe Vera, areca palm, snake plant, Gerber daisy etc.)
- Improving ventilation
- Maintaining cleanliness
- Using cleaner cooking fuels