We spend one – third of our life sleeping but we spend our entire life breathing. We face a variety of risks in our everyday life. Driving cars, flying in airplanes, engagement in recreational activities, exposure to environment pollutants all pose varying degrees of risk. Some of these are simply unavoidable. We choose to accept […]
We spend one – third of our life sleeping but we spend our entire life breathing. We face a variety of risks in our everyday life. Driving cars, flying in airplanes, engagement in recreational activities, exposure to environment pollutants all pose varying degrees of risk. Some of these are simply unavoidable. We choose to accept some because we have no option. We all think that we are safe inside our house but we are unaware of the deadliest risk to our life. In the last few years, studies have proved with scientific evidence that the air within our houses and buildings are far more polluted that the outdoor air of the largest and the most industrialized cities. Most of the people on an average spend 90% of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risk to health from the exposure to indoor air pollution is far greater than the risks from outdoor pollution. Thus, indoor air pollution and its exposure to hazardous substances at home are risks we can do something about.
Indoor air pollution constitutes of all the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of air in the indoor environment within a house, building or an institute or commercial facility. It is a growing concern in the developing countries, where energy efficiency improvements make houses relatively alright, reducing ventilation and raising the risks of pollution. Indoor air problems are subtle and do not have easily recognized health impacts. People who are exposed to indoor air pollutants for long periods are most susceptible to their effects. They include the young, elderly and chronically ill specially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.
Almost half of the population in the developing countries face the greatest threat from indoor air pollution because they still continue to use fuels such as firewood, charcoal and cow dung for cooking and heating purposes. Concentrations of indoor pollutants emitted by burning these fuels are increasing at an alarming rate as a large amount of smoke is released. Women and children are more vulnerable as they spend most of the time at home and are exposed to the deadly smoke and the indoor pollutants. As identified by WHO, The four most serious of all pollutants are-
• Carbon monoxide
• Polycyclic organic matter
Due to lack of education and because of irregular or little monitoring done in the rural and poor urban indoor environment the problems faced by them are ignored as they themselves are not aware of the harmful effects of the indoor pollutants .
In Urban area, exposure to indoor air pollution has increased due to a variety of reasons- construction of tightly sealed buildings, reduced ventilation, use of synthetic materials, use of chemical products like pesticides and household care products. There are so many commonly used products used at our homes like solvents and chemicals. Perfumes, hair sprays, furniture polish, air fresheners, glues, wood preservatives that can cause or lead to health problems related specially to eyes, nose and throat. In severe cases it may lead to head-ache, nausea and lack of coordination. Long term exposure to these air pollutants leads to liver damage and damage of body parts. Another major cause of indoor pollution in urban areas is Cigarette smoke. Most of the people do smoke at their homes inside closed rooms resulting into accumulation of smoke and the same polluted air is inhaled by not only the smoker but also by others present in the room. This leads to a serious question are we living a life or killing a life?
Air pollution can be considered as one of the greatest environmental health risk on this planet ahead of outdoor pollution. World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that indoor pollution causes death of seven million people every year. This accounts to one in eight deaths across the globe, making air pollution the single greatest environmental health risk. This is the main cause of death in Indian households.
John Bower aptly said-
“Walking into a modern building can sometimes be compared to placing your head inside a plastic bag that is filled with toxic fumes.”
What is the solution to this problem? We are so used to this kind of lifestyle and comfortable living that it’s is very difficult for all of us to just give up on it . But there are ways by which we can protect ourselves from becoming the next victim of air pollution. Instead of using the deadly gas stoves and fossil fuels for cooking purposes we can switch to renewable sources of energy like solar energy and wind energy. Keeping one or two plant inside our houses can also be a good solution as they absorb most the of the carbon dioxide making the air we breathe pure and clean. Just my making these small changes in our living style we can prevent ourselves from the harmful effects of indoor air pollutants. Now the call is ours- whether we want to become the next victim of indoor air pollution or take the necessary measures and save ourselves as well as our family members. Our one change can make a huge impact on our life as well as our environment.