Clear the air

Clear the air

To evade the consequences of escalating levels of air pollution, we naturally choose to limit outdoor activity and stay indoors. However, does it serve any purpose? Is the quality of our indoor air any better? Studies indicate an unsettling finding: indoors are far more polluted than outdoors. As indoors are closed spaces, pollutants get trapped inside contaminating the air.    

With rapid development, increased human activities that focus on convenience, the condition of the breathable air in our homes and offices is deteriorating. In fact, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report claims that mortality rate due to indoor pollution has risen drastically in the past few decades, especially in developing countries like ours.

Adding to the woes are insufficient regulations and mandates to check chemical levels in household items and the level of emissions from appliances.

It is evident that cramped spaces with poor ventilation are at a higher risk of pollution. While in rural areas, excessive particulate matter is found due to the burning of fuels, urban spaces witness the ever-increasing chemical pollutants.

Is your space contaminated?

Indoor spaces are exposed to hazardous chemicals and volatile organic compounds (formaldehyde, phenols, ammonia and benzene) released by daily activities. These toxins are hard to eliminate and remain in the air. Studies indicate that since we spend a significant amount of time indoors - be it at home or office - we are unknowingly absorbing them, putting us at risk. Breathing in the poor quality air increases respiratory distresses, leading to a condition called 'sick building syndrome'.

While the presence of dust, grime, vehicular exhaust, smoke, particulate matter and microbes are visible pollutants, many are silent contributors:
•Improper ventilation traps fumes from household activities like cooking and heating.
•Buildings and construction materials like paints and solvents leave chemical residues and heavy metals like lead.

•Glue-bonded plyboards, carpets, furnishings, and stain removers emit small quantities of poisonous gases.
•Daily use chemical cleaners, detergents, deodorisers, disinfectants, cosmetics, chemical fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides and even dry-cleaned clothes are the other causes of contamination.

Corrective measures

To safeguard ourselves from the hazards of indoor pollution, it is our prerogative to make the necessary changes. First and foremost, prevention goes a long way:

Do we require a daily dose of harsh chemical cleaners to sparkle floors, counters and bathrooms? Opting for organic substitutes and consciously reducing the use of chemicals will contribute significantly to improve the indoor air quality. A combination of baking soda with lemon, vinegar and hot water will efficiently de-grease, and de-clog drains, which turns out to be a better option than the synthetic version.

Replace deodorisers, room fresheners and mothballs with aromatic spices, fragrant flowers and herbs; or add a few drops of essential oils like citronella or jasmine to infusers to enliven workspaces, and keep bugs at bay.

Substitute chemical pesticides, fertilisers and insecticides with organic versions.

Upgrade to energy-saving appliances: better manufacturing process ensures minimised emissions.

Chlorinated tap water when heated, releases chlorine vapours which are toxic. To prevent this, run dishwashers and washing machines on cold water as much as possible.

Go natural

A research conducted by NASA shows that some indoor plants effectively eliminate stubborn indoor air chemicals. What's more, their high transpiration rate synthesises the contaminants and replenishes the air with the much-needed oxygen.

While needing minimal maintenance, ferns, peace lilies, rubber plants, areca palm, philodendron, money plant and aloe vera are active agents which absorb toxins like formaldehyde and ammonia. The plants grow comfortably in pots and the low light condition of indoors.

Bamboo palms and aloe vera fit well in a corner in bedrooms and help in providing excellent quality air. The traditional practice of having a tulsi plant at the entrance of the house is not without scientific reason. Tulsi is another powerful agent which acts on microbes and absorbs toxins from the air. Armed with these tips, we can make our indoor spaces safe and pure.

Let's start then, and choose to breathe better quality air.


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