Air pollution kills millions of people around the globe each year. It is the single biggest environmental threat to human health, from smog hanging over cities to smoke inside the home. The World Health Organisation (WHO) data reveals that the combined effects of ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution led to an estimated 6.5 million deaths in 2015, as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections. When we talk about air pollution, most of us focus our minds on things like smog, power plants, emissions from cars and trucks, which are all examples of outdoor air pollution. But what many don’t know is that air indoors can actually be far worse.
A study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment suggested that indoor air pollution may be deadlier than outdoor air, resulting in various health problems. Also, a study carried out by the environmental studies department of Delhi University shows bioaerosols and particulate matter inside the house, largely resulting from poor ventilation and structural designs can cause various health ailments, reported The Times of India.
The research, which took nearly five years, involved 900 people across several households of varied income groups. The research also found that the high and low-level groups were most vulnerable to respiratory diseases due to the lifestyle and design flaw of their houses. And here are seven ways to improve indoor air quality in your home.
“The study aims to bust the myth that the air quality indoors is safe. In fact, it could be even worse because the outside pollutants get trapped inside. In addition, there are several pollutants and sources indoors that can cause pollution levels to rise gradually, unless there is proper ventilation,” Chirashree Ghosh, associate professor, DU environmental science department, told TOI.
Health effects of indoor air pollution
There is strong evidence that exposure to household air pollution can lead to a wide range of health problems. The health effects of indoor air pollutants can range from short-term effects like eye and throat irritation to long-term effects such as respiratory conditions, lung cancer, ischemic heart disease, stroke and cataract, etc. Here, we have listed some health hazards of poor indoor air quality:
- Wheezing, worsening asthma
- Nasal congestion (inflammation of the nose, runny nose)
- Dyspnea (difficulty in breathing or painful breathing)
- Pharyngitis (sore throat), cough
- Severe lung disease
- Eye irritation
- Headache, dizziness
- Nausea, vomiting
- Muscle pain
- Hearing loss
When it comes to our health and well-being, it is easy to forget about air as a potential risk factor because we can’t really see it. But, a number of research studies have suggested that the quality of the air you are breathing is something to really consider. And this includes identifying potential airborne contaminants in your home, where you spend the majority of your time.