When we talk so much about all kinds of pollution, have you ever wondered that pollution also exists inside our own house or room. Right! Yes, it is there, which is known as Indoor air pollution. When we cuddle our blanket and slip into dreams, there are so many things happening around. Let us understand what indoor air pollution is, its causes, effects and also measures to reduce indoor air pollution.
What is Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor air pollution means polluting or contaminating the air that we breathe indoors. This is a very complex global issue as the indoor air is more concentrated than the exterior air. This has more negative impact because it has to be undergone on a day to day basis. Most of the common indoor pollutants are the carpets used, the asbestos sheets, cooking gas, cleaning detergents, air fresheners, cigarette smell hair sprays, and so on. All of these can cause mild irritation, asthma, and mild skin allergies initially but during the course of time it can lead to fatal health issues like respiratory disorders and even cancer.
CAUSES OF INDOOR AIR POLLUTION
The gas that is emitted during radioactive decay of radium is known as radon. This is commonly found underneath the buildings, houses, under the rock bed and other rock formations. This gas easily seeps into the buildings and houses polluting the indoor air. This can prove to be hazardous to the people living and can cause serious health issues.
This is considered the major cause of indoor air pollution. Asbestos is commonly used in buildings, houses and industries these days. The asbestos emit microscopic fibers that get absorbed by the air indoor. This contaminates the indoor air that we breathe and can cause severe damage to the lungs causing lung cancer. In most of the countries asbestos have been banned owing to serious health issues.
- Cigarette smoke
This comes under the category of second hand smoke that kills the pure air. The smoke that comes out of these cigarettes and even tobacco spreads easily to the entire building. Carbon monoxide, volatile and semi-volatile compounds and minute particles gets emitted to the indoor air and causes respiratory disorders.
The commonly used glues and adhesives emit VOCs such as ethyl ketone and acetone that causes severe indoor air pollution. This affects the normal functioning of the nervous system and can cause severe eye irritation. Cement glues are even more harmful. It contains an element called hexane that is a neurotoxin that releases noxious formaldehyde. This tops the list of indoor air pollution.
- Cooking and cleaning utilities
Gas stoves, heaters, fireplaces, chimneys produce carbon monoxide that mixes with the air in the houses and can cause headaches and dizziness. Nitrogen oxide is given out by gas stoves that can cause respiratory related problems. But unfortunately all these are used on a daily basis by humans.
- Carpets made of cloth material
The new carpets that we buy have and can release certain volatile organic material that can easily pollute the indoor atmosphere. If they are not properly dusted or washed, it can worsen the situation due to accumulated dust and other toxic material.
- Paints, varnish and turpentine
After the use of paints, turpentine and varnishes, the healthy atmosphere in a building or a house gets hampered as they emit VOCs i.e. volatile organic compounds and other chemical fumes. All these contain methylene chloride that is highly polluting and can cause cancer.
- Cleaning household products
The commonly used cleaning products like soaps, toilet cleaning agents, laundry soaps and detergents all can cause indoor air pollution. All these products release irritants contaminate the indoor air causing various health problems.
- Broken bulbs
Small amounts of mercury are released when a fluorescent bulb breaks. This can cause indoor air pollution. Mercury contains neurotoxin that can cause serious health issues.
EFFECTS OF INDOOR AIR POLLUTION
- Respiratory ailments
Indoor pollution is prone to respiratory disorders. Globally a lot of cases are recorded due to indoor air contamination. Due to high level of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, dust particles and other minute toxins, pulmonary and respiratory disorders occur. Continuous use of gas stoves, burning of coal and charcoal worsens the situation of fatigue and dizziness among women and children.
- Weakens immune system
Exposure on a regular basis to persistent organic pollutants i.e. POPs weakens the general immune system of humans. It can lead to primitive cancer, damage to the nervous system, weakening of the reproductive system and damages the lungs. Even though the pollutants are in small quantities, all put together like cooking gas, smoke from tobacco and cigarettes, wall paints, carpets and cleaning detergents and all makes a huge difference. All these have a negative impact on the health of humans.
- Infant mortality and retarded growth
Children born and brought up in this environment are likely to exhibit symptoms of retarded growth. Other common ailments among children exposed to indoor air pollution are chronic bronchitis, emphysema, obstructive pulmonary diseases, slower organ growth among teenagers and delayed development among children. Over exposure to indoor pollution can even lead to lower birth weights in children, premature birth and sometimes infant mortality.
- Affects eye sight
Due to the indoor air pollutant, the lens of the eyes can get affected leading to opacity of the eye lens. This usually occurs where coal and charcoal is used for cooking purposes. The minute particles get mixed with the indoor air that gets into the eyes and cause irritation. This issue is commonly seen in women.
- Spread of infectious disease
Indoor air pollution adds up to the spreading of certain infectious disease like measles, tuberculosis, small pox, acute respiratory syndrome and influenza. Some of the minor ailments like headaches, eye irritation, fatigue, stress, nausea, fever, nose block and fever can occur due to indoor air pollution. So because of this, the total productivity of a work place gets disrupted.
- Other ailments
Many other type of health issue occurs due to specific indoor material pollutants. The smoke from cigarettes can cause bronchitis, lung cancer, asthma and sometimes heart diseases. Asbestos can create a health issue called asbestosis which causes shortness of breath and even ling cancer. The gas stove used in the household emits carbon monoxide that can cause nausea and headaches. Formaldehyde that comes from adhesives can cause severe irritation in the nose and eyes. The house mites can also cause similar reactions to our body. The toxins released from the cleaning detergents can cause severe damage to kidney, liver and nervous system.
So thus to conclude, indoor air pollution is a global issue that effects each and every household. But it can be reduced to a great extent if certain steps are strictly followed. Some of them are as under;
- Ban smoking indoor and in the car.
- Keep the rooms, kitchen and work spaces properly ventilated so that there is a continuas flow of air.
- Using a vacuum cleaner, clear the beds, sofas and carpets regularly so that no dust gets accumulated.
- Without masking orders, get rid of them.
- Minimize the clutter in the house so as to avoid bacteria, mites and molds.
- Using organic or homemade cleaners will eventually minimize indoor pollution.
- The use of the air fresheners can be minimized.
- The trash in the house should be properly covered.
- Exhaust the bathrooms.
So by looking into all these steps, indoor air pollution can be minimized thus producing a healthy population.