The Inside Story on Air Pollution
The dirt on indoor air pollution: the silent killer in your home
You might want to take a deep breath (or not): Most Indian living spaces are like sealed boxes, which allow fumes such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and biological irritants (mould and dust mites) to build up over time. This means your indoor air quality is likely two to five times worse than the air outdoors.
Bad air can trigger health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and asthma. While VOCs may cause headaches, eye and lung infections, radon (a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in most homes) is the second leading cause of lung cancer. A new US study now claims that air pollution, even low levels of air particulates (dirt, dust, smoke and soot) can lead to serious kidney problems. The good news? It doesn’t take much to clean up your indoor air.
■ Clean Carefully
Dust is a leading source of air pollution because it absorbs toxic gases, including VOCs and radon. Most of us sweep our floors but it’s more effective to follow up with a wet mop or use a vacuum cleaner. Make sure to clean carpets, upholstery and curtains—all common dust traps.
■ Run the Fans
Switch on the kitchen hood or bathroom exhaust fans while cooking or showering. The vents draw moist air out, reducing the risk of mould development.
■ Sleep on Clean Linen
Dust mites like to burrow into your bedding. So make sure to change it at least once a week and wash used linen in hot water to kill germs.
■ Lay off Fragrances
Many air fresheners contain phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals that may affect reproductive development. Opt for natural options by boiling citrus peels or herbs—for instance, sage, rosemary or mint.
■ Buy a Ficus Plant
Researchers especially like them for their gas-absorbing and antimicrobial power. They can even remove formaldehyde, (a potent VOC) from the air.