Breathing Easy in the Time of Toxic Air
Clear the air of indoor toxics
As the problem of air pollution reaches catastrophic proportions, each of us becomes an involuntary stakeholder. According to the latest report by the World Health Organization, over one lakh children below five years of age died in India due to both ambient and household air pollution in 2016. Here are some ways to keep yourself and your family safe.
There’s no good smoke
Limit the use of candles and agarbattis. Even if they are labelled as being herbal, studies have shown that they emit toxic gases and PM2.5. If you must use them, place them near windows.
Firstly, clean your house regularly with a vacuum cleaner so that you get rid of dust more efficiently. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, invest in a cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter which will retain particles measuring 0.3 microns and larger, instead of blowing it back into the air.
Don’t take it to the cleaners
Perchloroethylene is a liquid solvent used to dry-clean clothes. It is a serious air pollutant and long-term exposure can even cause cancer. Avoid hanging your dry-cleaned clothes in the closet as soon as you get them home. Instead, air them outdoors for a day or two.
Though affordable ones may not be as efficient as high-end air purifiers, they will still help bring down dust, PM levels and other pollutants. Make sure you invest in one that doesn’t emit formaldehyde and ozone as by-products, which further contribute to air pollution.
When running your air purifier, keep your windows and doors shut so that you don’t overuse the filter. However, an air purifier doesn’t produce oxygen or reduce carbon dioxide, whose level increases the longer you stay in a room. Hence, it’s important to ventilate your rooms so that you are not constantly breathing in exhaled air. Plus, it’s the only way to get rid of mould and fungi that thrive in closed, damp spaces.
Based on the book How to Grow Fresh Air, by Kamal Meattle and Barun Aggarwal, published by Juggernaut in November 2018.