How Safe Is The Air You Breathe?
This is a sponsored post for Eureka Forbes AeroGuard and was first published on MyCity4Kids.com
When we think of air pollution, our first instinct is to look outwards – exhaust, combustion, burning fuels, vehicles on the road; the works. But we rarely think of pollution in terms of indoor pollution – inside our homes, inside our offices, inside our schools – and maybe that’s why, we pay comparatively less attention to it. But this weekend, returning from a week away from home, we were greeted with a sight that made me look at indoor air pollution from a whole new perspective!
You see, our apartment is close to a main road where hundreds of cars move about all day, every day; and a lot of dust enters our home. We keep getting it regularly cleaned and dusted so as to ensure that there are no dusty surfaces. But this weekend, as we got back after a week out of town, we discovered that the house was dusty despite all our windows being shut tight. Not only that, there was also a musty smell around the house that made us immediately open the windows to let some fresh air in!
And that got me thinking. With no one at home and despite the closed windows, if this was the state of our home, then this is something that must be happening right under our noses even when we are at home every day, no? That’s when I looked up indoor air pollution, and was shocked to know that the air inside our homes is five times more toxic than outdoor air! And knowingly, unknowingly, we all contribute to it.
Common everyday contributors to indoor air pollution
Amazingly, we are all responsible, in more or less degrees to the indoor air pollution in our homes, offices, even in our schools! Take the case of our homes, for example. Mold, pollen, pet dander and even chemicals from household cleaners, room fresheners or mosquito repellants are some of the most common everyday contributors to indoor air pollution that we liberally use in our homes very frequently that make us pollute the air within our homes or offices, albeit without meaning to. Add to this the contributions we make willingly – like smoking inside our homes or offices, or keeping stuff piled up in our basements or the attic etc. which are directly harmful (with piled up stuff being prone to accumulating dust, mold and so on). In addition, irritants from perfumes, soot from incense or candles, craft supplies such as glue, paints etc., dust mites; and even fumes from recently dry cleaned clothes and thick carpeting that accumulates dust over the years if not regularly vacuumed are some other common contributors to indoor air pollution.
Indoor air pollution in schools
Now, even though it is true that indoor air pollution is a serious problem, there is no point beating ourselves about it; because even if we decide to take preventive steps to clean the air indoors (which we will talk about in a bit); it is important to know that indoor air pollution isn’t just limited to our homes and offices, but extends to schools too! Dust from outdoors, bacteria in the air, smoke/exhaust from cafeterias, emissions because of faulty air conditioning systems or heaters, mold, poor ventilation, paint emissions – even chalk dust – are some of the most common causes of indoor air pollution in schools.
Why do we need clean air?
Now you must be wondering what I am getting at, listing down all these sources of indoor pollution; well, it is important to list these out, so we can know that it is not something to be taken lightly. It is important to know the serious illnesses it can cause and how badly they can affect our family’s health. You see, air pollution can cause problems that can range from allergies to respiratory diseases to cardiovascular diseases, even heart attacks to serious illnesses like cancer and eventually even death. And it is because of this that we need to find a solution to clean the air inside our homes, workplaces and our schools.
Simple ways to prevent indoor air pollution
So how do we go about cleaning up the space we spend a lot of our time in? Here are some simple ways:
- Throw those windows open, keep the home well-lit and ventilated. Let the fresh air in to make any untoward smell and smoke in the home go out.
- Quit the habit of smoking inside the home. (Quitting smoking for life is actually the best option, but as the next best thing, at least try not to light up inside the home.)
- Make sure to leave shoes at the door. This wonderful Indian habit helps outdoor germs from entering into our homes and causing us damage.
- Choose household cleaners smartly, try to go green if possible; and in the extreme conditions when you just have to use them, try to use them sparingly and in well ventilated rooms.
- Use room fresheners, perfumes, mosquito repellants etc. with care so as to avoid the irritants from these spreading into the indoor air.
- Thick carpeting looks beautiful, but getting rid of it goes a long way in reducing indoor air pollution.
- Keep the dustbin/trashcans covered at all times to keep insects away, thereby doing away with the requirement of using pesticides that are full of chemicals contributing to indoor air pollution.
- Dust and clean any exposed surfaces in the home regularly to keep dust from accumulating on them.
- Fix exhaust fans in places like bathrooms, the kitchen, the laundry room etc. to help get rid of any smoke/ toxins generated in these places.
- Try the natural remedy of using house plants to freshen up the indoor air.