The quality of indoor air within our homes and office spaces often reflects upon our moods. Most of the time this reflection is an involuntary action, the reason behind it being us spending more time in these aforementioned spaces as compared to elsewhere. Bearing this fact in mind it is important to always make sure that the quality of the air we inhale for longer time frames is maintained as clean and fresh as possible. Ignoring the same can lead to respiratory and other health issues especially when taken lightly. Let us take a look at how we can improve the quality of indoor air and stay healthy and happy in the long run.
Some Common Indoor Air Pollutants
Most of us live under the impression that the quality of the indoor air we breathe is as pure as can be not realizing that a lot of toxins get accumulated over time. This when left untreated can prove potentially harmful to our health in ways more than one. Let us take a look at some common air pollutants that is found within closes spaces:
- Carbon Monoxide(CO)
This odorless, colorless gas cannot be seen with the naked eye. One cannot sense its presence which makes this pollutant potentially dangerous to one’s health. It is produced often during incomplete combustion of cooking fuel, by burning scented candles/frankincense for prolonged hours at a stretch, tobacco smoking, etc. carbon monoxide inhibits the work of oxygen in the human body and leads to dizziness, breathing difficulties, palpitation, nausea and ultimately death when inhaled in high quantity unknowingly. Proper installation and periodic maintenance of heating devices can help inhibit the production of this harmful gas within closed spaces.
- Carbon Dioxide
This common indoor air pollutant is produced by living things and in the presence of an improper ventilation system. When a large quantity of carbon dioxide gets accumulated in the indoor air it can considerably reduce the air quality and lead to various health issues. It renders people inactive and sleepy and leads to the production of other harmful indoor air toxic gases.
This colorless, odorless gas is emitted from concrete building materials especially those containing granite. Found in concentration near construction sites as well as this harmful gas can built-up when the ventilation system is poor. High levels of radon in the indoor air for prolonged periods can lead to lung cancer when left unchecked and untreated.
- Environmental Tobacco Smoke
This gas is emitted when a cigarette is burnt combined with the smoke given out by a tobacco smoker. A combination of the two produces a strong harmful gas that is potentially dangerous when inhaled. It irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and poses a greater risk as it is cancer-causing and also leads to other respiratory problems.
Anything that causes ionization of indoor air can lead to the production of this harmful indoor air pollutant. Often found in comparatively higher levels in offices, photo studios, etc where laser printers, photocopiers, etc are used regularly. This toxin can cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory organs but ozone poisoning is a rare occurrence since this gas is found only in substantial levels owing to it being highly reactive.
Found mostly in spaces containing wooden furniture. It can also be emitted from cooking fuel, incense fumigation, carpeting, wood paneling, etc. concentrated levels of formaldehyde can lead to eye, nose and throat irritation.
- Biological Pollutants
These set of indoor air pollutants can range between viruses, bacteria, mould, dust mites and others. Often they are found in places with poor ventilation systems, growth accelerated during monsoons owing to damp environmental conditions, in cool spaces, improperly maintained ac system, etc. dirty unkempt indoor spaces also gives rise to the aforementioned biological pollutants and can cause asthma, allergies leading to watery, eyes, sneezing, etc as well as cause fever, tummy aches, dizziness, etc.
- Pollutants from common household products
Daily-use household and beauty products like shampoo, hair spray, pesticides, air fresheners, deodorants and others release various chemicals into the indoor air. Continuous and regular usage increases the toxin accumulation of harmful gases in the indoor air which can undoubtedly lead to several health issues. VOCs or volatile organic compounds get built-up in the air which can lead to irritation of the eye, nose and throat, dizziness, headache, tiredness, breathlessness and prolonged periods of exposure to VOCs can cause liver and kidney damage as well.
How Monsoons Affect Respiratory Health
Every seasonal transition comes with the onset of tell-tale signs which are commonly known as seasonal diseases. Almost every other person is seen sniffing in public, snorting or sneezing with bouts of coughing. Faces generally seem flushed and eyes watery. Along with the changes in environmental air, indoor air quality also considerably changes. Such changes are more conspicuous during the monsoon months when the rains are welcomed by the masses. However uncalled for visitors make their presence felt by making people ill along with the climatic changes owing to a decrease in temperature coupled with general dampness in the air creating a perfect scenario for bacteria and viruses to thrive and flourish. This change adversely affects our respiratory health and our bodies become susceptible to diseases. Particularly during monsoons what happens is that the indoor air gets damp as well causing carpeting, flooring and furnishing to go moist and wet leading to the rise of fungal growth; which in turn gives rise to an unpleasant odor throughout the closed space. When left uncared for not only does it cause the furnishing, window fittings and the likes to perish but also causes health risks in the form of asthma, wheezing, coughing, fever, and other respiratory issues. Monsoons also lead to an increase in insects and bugs indoors and those with allergies will surely take the brunt of the presence of these pests which again will harm one’s respiratory health.
Methods To Purify Indoor Air To Manage Better Respiratory Health
Some hassle-free methods to purify indoor air quality is as follows:
- Ensure the indoor space is well ventilated at all times for adequate air circulation. For a few hours daily leave the windows open to let fresh air in and for damp air to go out. This will also get rid of indoor air pollutants.
- Let morning sunlight in, leave the curtains drawn so the general dampness can be lessened and the bad odor can escape out.
- Keep the air-conditioning/ heating systems periodically checked and maintained so as to avoid mould formation which can subsequently lead to respiratory diseases if left unchecked.
- Check for water leaks and water clogging to avoid the growth of microorganisms and insects that thrive in such damp conditions.
- Make sure furnishings, carpets, wall frames, cushions, bed-linen and the likes are regularly dusted as well as sun-dried whenever possible so as to avoid mould formation which may otherwise adversely affect the health of those with underlying respiratory problems.
- Make sure washed clothes and dishes are properly dried before placing them in their respective places inside cupboards, drawers and closets.
- Refrain from smoking in the presence of those with respiratory health issues, the elderly and in the presence of little children.
- Avoid cluttering of spaces with old newspapers, unused cardboard boxes, old clothes, etc and dispose of unwanted articles. If left untouched they can go damp and cause mould formation. Such spaces also become perfect spots for insects and bugs to thrive all of which can deteriorate respiratory health.
- It would be advisable to attach netted-frames to windows so that one can let the fresh air in but make sure insects and bugs are filtered at the same time.
- Keep plenty of indoor plants. It not only enhances the beauty of the indoor space but also purifies the air by effectively getting rid of toxins.
Managing indoor air quality to ensure better respiratory health is not a difficult task but many times we ignore this major aspect of our lives owing to a busy lifestyle and stating lack of time as a common excuse. Initially, such negligence may not make much of a difference but prolonged ignorance can cause people to pay a heavy price. So whilst time lasts make sure to follow the above mentioned simple steps and lead a pollution-free, happy life.