Indoor Air Pollution: Everything You Should Know About It

Nowadays, we face many major environment-related issues and one of them is Air pollution in our homes, offices, and other buildings. Indoor air pollution is severely detrimental to health as compared to the outdoors. The reason behind this is the pollutants get accumulated with time and as a result density increases. 

Also read: 10 Best Air Purifiers Under ₹10000

So the amount of micro particulates and allergens intake is much higher in houses, buildings, etc. than in the outdoors.

Indoor air pollution

According to some of the reports of 2016 issued. It demonstrated that in Developing countries this difference in health impact is more severe indoors in contrast to outdoors. The pollutants from the kitchen cooking fuels accounted for 16% of the total particulate matter in the world in the year 2010.

Indoor air pollution is the third among the risk factors for health worldwide. So we bring you all the details you need to know about it and how to tackle it by taking the necessary steps.

Indoor Air Pollution in India

The most important and mandatory thing to know is the causes of the indoor pollution of air. It might include the things you burn inside the houses. Mainly it is related to the kitchen. That said various reasons are responsible for it.

While talking about the Developed countries these include volatile organic matter, pesticides used in homes, asbestos, radon, and other various heavy metals. Tobacco is thought of as the lifeline for some, in turn actually, its smoke is also one of the reasons for indoor pollution.

Whereas in developing countries, prepared Biomass fuels are one of the major reasons for it. Other major pollutants include building materials used in construction, incomplete combustion of the wood, or other substances in winter by the people.

Particularly talking about India, here people use firewood, dried cow dung, coal, lignite, kerosene in cooking in the rural areas which constitutes the much higher percentage in Indian Demographic. The LPG and Biogas are also the reasons which contribute significantly towards the indoor pollution causing pollutants.

To clarify further, there is the incomplete combustion (i.e. burning of fuel in limited oxygen supply) of the above-mentioned products. This mainly forms the basis for the accumulation of pollutants. These, on burning releases carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrocarbons, etc. which are detrimental to health. 

Reasons for Air Pollution

This carbon monoxide (CO) has approximately 24 times more capacity to combine with the blood’s haemoglobin and hinder the oxygen supply of your body. Moreover, the hemoglobin of the unborn has even more affinity towards the CO.

Consequently, when the body lacks the supply of oxygen it results in hypoxia of tissue. Thus mainly attacking your cardiovascular system. 

Hence, the prolonged exposure to the CO can reduce the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. This deadly chemical is actually odorless and causes symptoms that are similar to common illnesses. So, it important to take prevention as you can detect its impact until it’s too late for you to take action.

causes of air pollution

Some of the treatment measures after the high exposure to CO, are to immediately remove the patient from the CO source. Then, providing life support and pure 100 percent oxygen. Along with proper monitoring. The best way is always prevention.

The burning of coal results in the release of the oxides of fluoride, arsenic, and Sulphur. Some usable items like polishing materials, cosmetics, waxes produce the pollutants like aldehydes and other volatile organic compounds.

Last but not least are some living biological factors which are mites, pollens, molds, carpets, humidifiers. These too are one of the reasons for the unwanted and unhealthy indoor micro particulates.

A quantitative study shows that the particulate matter produced while cooking with the Biomass results in an alarming level of pollutants concentration i.e., 600 to 2100 mg/m3. Hence, making wise decisions and following the steps we discuss further in the article is a must.

In short, wood and coal stoves, Incensed mosquito coils, tobacco smoke, LPG, Fireplaces, and micro-pollutants entering from outside. These are some basic indoor pollution causes.

Health effects of Indoor Air Pollution

This pollution is so hazardous in nature that it causes millions of premature deaths a year. The diseases include chronic pulmonary disease, pneumonia, and lung cancer too. Actually, the highly affected group is women (mainly Housewives) and young children. The reason being the maximum amount of time they spend at home.

Moreover, it also becomes a reason for other respiratory illnesses and infections. Which results in unwelcoming outcomes like low birth weight, stillbirth, leukemia. The cancer of the lungs, the larynx is also counted.

The use of formaldehyde has ill effects like irritation and bronchitis, reduction in lung capacity, and lung cancer at its worst. Some studies online show that to some extent the firewood smoke also causes some cardiovascular problems. Severe asthma and wheezing are some of the ill effects of oxides of Sulphur and Nitrogen. These can cause various infections of the respiratory system besides.

What are the main causes and effects of indoor air pollution?

The use of this oxide of Sulphur equally contributes to the exacerbation of cardiovascular-related diseases and COPD. The cancer of the lungs, esophagus, larynx is caused due to the released polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

The lower birth rate and sometimes death is caused due to perinatal problems. The rate of pollution is specifically high in the Houses of poor demographic. As their homes are small, ill-ventilated along with the higher use of charcoal, biogas, or incombustible stoves. Poverty becomes the impetus to give rise to the cases of health problems related to indoor pollution.

The dangerous and stubborn disease Tuberculosis(TB) is found to be significantly connected with the use of Biomass gas as fuel for cooking in kitchens. It is equally prevalent in everyone without discriminating between the urban or rural areas, men or women. Hence, gives proof that the smoke produced during the cooking with biomass fuel accumulates in the house. Thus, affecting the well-being of everyone living there.

Not only this a case reported, in which a woman, housewife, was diagnosed with lung cancer and the factors reported included the use of tobacco in addition to the harmful particles released by Biogas. The use of these fuels inside including the LPG is also considered to be contributing to the cataract (partial as well as cortical sometimes).

Particulates Size matters

One of the important aspects to keep in mind before you take the preventive and control measures is the size of pollutants. The smaller the size of the particulate matter the more penetrable power it will possess. Hence, this aspect of size will make it easier for the pollutant to enter through your nasal or mouth passage.

According to WHO, the particles of 10 micrometers merely get past through your upper respiratory passage. But the particulate matter of 2 micrometers can reach the alveoli inside the lungs. Thus, these finer particles are more detrimental to health in comparison.

Further, these after easily entering, get accumulated in the lungs and other respiratory organs. Consequently, causing various diseases or irreversible damage.

Including the damage to the Bronchitis, lungs, esophagus and other infections.

Control Measures

There are studies which show us the evidence that the pollution inside our Households or other buildings is the main reason behind the morbidities.

As of now after the Lockdowns during the pandemic majority of the people stays inside. Following the norms of work from home, has only increased the rate of bad health impacts. Further, this has increased the need for intervention to reduce this evil and make it disappear.

Considering the different aspects, we can conclude the people who choose to cook with these fuels. It is actually a choice that’s not made by them. It is just because of several factors like financial stability, social and cultural aspects. Most importantly it boils down to the availability of the fuel and its type, quality, and various other factors.

Below we provide you with the list of measures that can be followed to constrain this deadly problem:

1.The Fuel used in kitchens

I certainly am not wrong in saying that the use of unsuitable fuel for cooking is one serious thing if solved will unload a majority of the burden. Actually, people use the fuel that is easily available and in their budget if that’s the case for them. Promoting and advocating the use of cleaner gas has to be the focusing point. Further, making it available to households especially in poverty-stricken areas. As people are already suffering from another ill ventilation kind of structural problems.

Another important aspect is making these gas affordable for them. So, that they can easily spend affordable prices.

2. Creating Awareness 

There exist too many other hurdles in life which are of high importance. Also advertised at a level that a minority of people actually comprehends the seriousness of this matter. A proper campaign should be arranged by the government and other socially active groups to give an overall account of the problem.

Advertisements in the newspapers, messages, and TV can easily spread the correct and effective awareness about this problem. Furthermore, apprising them of the serious threats it causes.

It will surely help in guiding them about choosing the right products for the kitchen. And replacing the older stuff that has pollution causing potential.

Also, the concerned public should not only be the commons or poor but everyone from politicians to businessmen. As a step from every Indian makes it a billion steps towards a healthier and happier lifestyle.

3. Ventilation in the houses

People cooking in the houses should use chimneys or other sorts of ducts which can help in reducing the smoke of cooking. Smoking is itself a cause of serious problems but inside the air. If not ventilated sufficiently will circulate the tobacco smoke. Other members living there will for no reason get exposed to the smoke. Therefore, causing problems for them as well in longer runs.

Better ventilation like windows above kitchen cooking slab. Small ventilating windows all over the house or the exhaust can prove to be lifesaving.

Neglecting the ventilation can be a serious problem. Be aware. Take measures.

4. Coordination among various sectors

This problem is not new but it deep-rooted. And if we actually want to solve this as soon as possible. Proper intimated coordination among the different sectors for example health, energy, Rural, and urban departments, and Ecological departments.

Commitment should be done at the international level so that the pressure of getting successful acts as an impetus in this process.

In addition, the most obvious and known problems like Global Warming and Climate Change are becoming serious. Consequently, they exacerbate the problem of people spending more time indoors, doing activities. Therefore, these prolonged stays inside the housed only make the effect of the indoor pollution more severe.

Following some Millennium development goals will definitely help in reducing indoor air pollution.

  • With less time spent on fuel collection and lost due to ill health, children will have more time for school attendance and homework.
  • Improved household energy practices will provide opportunities for income generation.
  • Better respiratory health improved maternal health
  • Need to combat malaria, TB, and other diseases.

The aforementioned goals show the interest of governments and international organizations in combating Indoor pollution.

Conclusion

Now, we saw and discussed every aspect of this menace. But eventually, the data is not enough to get the hang of indoor pollution. The further need for several assessments and data about it and its causes is necessary. Also studies and ideas from various organizations and individuals in need of more accurate solutions.

Indoor pollution should not be taken lightly. As it is responsible for several life-threatening like Tuberculosis, Respiratory infections, Bronchitis, Cataract, nasal infections, Asthma. Not only these but deadly cancers of various respiratory and cardiovascular parts are also its outcomes.

So effective and coordinated mediation, targeting everyone for the awareness programs is a welcome step. Initiatives for educating about it, changing the fuels, installing or replacing environment-friendly stoves using cleaner gases are important. It’s high time we took the matter seriously.

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