Monday, December 11, 2023

The need to breathe pure, safe air - indoors : Are we aware about air pollution within the home?
Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 7:14:13 PM - By SKP
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The need to breathe pure, safe air - indoors
Fine dust particles, mites and pollen, different types of air pollutants – all this affects you inside your air-conditioned home, office or even car. For ‘normal homes’, the danger is very much a reality. Are all of us aware of air pollution within the home?

AIR & DUST POLLUTION: At his home situated near a construction site near the Eastern Express Expressway, Gurpal Singh lives with a daily intake of fine dust particles, be they cement or fine sand or stone powder. Fitting a fine mesh grill to the windows hasn’t helped things any, and now things are getting out of hand, says Gurpal. “My children are suffering because of the air pollution within my home, the doctor says my asthama has gone worse since we shifted here while my better half has developed a breathing disorder. I thought this would be a better place to stay, but I seem to have been wrong on this count,” he says.

ARUN SAXENA: the President of Thane-based International Consumer Rights Protection Council (ICRPC) points out that air pollution is not restricted just to locations outside, it can also apply to locations like interiors of one’s home.

RAKESH KAPOOR: a resident of Thane points out that while it may be unknown to most of us, it is a fact that our residences are plagued with the menace of air pollution. “The Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) level, better known to common man as dust level in the air is increasing at an alarming rate,” he points out.

ENVIRONMENT SAFETY CRUSADER: Rudolf D’souza says SPM levels in Mumbai and its neighbouring areas are three to five times higher than the annual average acceptable limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO). “The WHO has assessed that the world over about 4,60,000 people die each year because of SPM, among which 1,35,000 are victims of chronic asthma and the rest die of cardiovascular or heart diseases,” he adds.

VULNERABLE TO THE HIGH LEVELS OF SPM : Rudolf points out that the norms stipulated by NAAQS (National Association of Air Quality Standards) in India say the average SPM level should not increase beyond 200 microgram/cubic metre, but if one closely looks at the SPM levels in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the situation is startling. “On an average, we inhale 40,000 – 70,000 dust particles with every breath we take. Residents are vulnerable to the high levels of SPM, which is basically particulate matter permanently suspended in the air, comprising all kinds of pollutants including vehicular emissions, industrial pollutants and biological pollutants. In the long term, indoor pollution leads to stress, allergies, asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, heart attacks and other serious ailments,” he points out.

RAKESH KAPOOR : explains that air pollution is most likely the price one pays for replacing green cover with concrete jungles. “It is not something that we do not know, it is just that we tend to ignore such issues,” he points out. While there is some awareness about particulate matter outdoors, Kapoor says no one seems aware about the amount of particulate matter inside offices, shops or homes. “It is this aspect which we need to worry about. You can have an air conditioner at home, but will it give you really purified air?”

AIR POLLUTION ISSUES WITHIN THE HOUSE : Gurpal Singh says he keeps removing dust particles from his air-conditioner’s air filters almost every other day, and yet his wife has developed a dust allergy. “I guess we need to take a serious look at the air pollution issues within the house, and ensure we give our children a safe house to stay in, and pure air to breathe,” he adds.

NO ONE TAKES AIR POLLUTION WITHIN THE HOME SERIOUSLY : Rudolf says that while the various Government agencies are doing the best that they can to keep outdoor pollution under check, one option that residents have is use air purifiers to keep indoor pollution under control. “In India, no one takes air pollution within the home seriously, so this is a segment of appliances which does not get wide publicity – consequently, hardly anyone knows about it,” he points out.

INDOOR POLLUTION MORE DANGEROUS : Nand Kishore who is a consultant says, “We think we are safe in our air-conditioned room, office or car but TERI (The Energy Research Institute, New Delhi) has found that Indoor pollution is more dangerous for us than outdoors. Pollen, fungus, viruses, bacteria builds up in our closed homes, offices and cars. Polluted air gets trapped inside our airtight air-conditioned homes, offices and cars. We continuously inhale those pollution-related particles as these are re-circulated by our air-conditioners. As a result, we become vulnerable to illness, sick, inefficient, temporary and chronic; and suffer from Allergies, Sneezing, Headache, Fatigue, Dizziness, Bronchial Asthma, Viral fevers, Lungs - Cancer and even Heart attack,” says Nand Kishore. He mentions a product, an Ionic Air Purifier which handles such indoor air pollution.

ADVANTAGE USER: Rudolf D’souza says such appliances actually work to the user's advantage. "Ideally, such an appliance should filter out airborne particles including fine dust, bad odour, harmful organic gases, bacteria and viruses, up to 0.3 microns in size. It should have inbuilt sensors, which can also sense the type and level of pollution in the room, and display a visual indication of cleaning. For modern homes, such appliances should be portable and lightweight, with large area coverage – say about 400 sq. ft. interior,” he explains.

For affected residents like Gurpal Singh, this should truly be the sound of music to the ears!

breathe pure
safe air