Indoor Air Pollutants – The Silent Assassins

By | September 24, 2017

indoor air pollution

According to World Health Organization (WHO), India accounts for nearly 80 percent deaths in South East Asia due to indoor air pollution. It’s primarily because of the use of biomass fuels in the rural part for cooking and heating. In urban India, biomass fuel for cooking and heating is rarely used, however, the indoor pollutants are still attacking the masses. We hold the outdoor pollution responsible for various health hazards and we overlook the the ill-effects of indoor pollution. Tobacco smoke, NO2 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are some of the common indoor air pollutants are responsible for the degrading indoor air quality.

The 5 most over looked indoor air pollutants are Dust, Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or secondhand smoke, Lead (Pb), Carbon monoxide (CO) and biological contaminants. Let us get informed about each one of them:

1) Dust

Dust is made up of particles in the air that settle on exterior surface. Large particles settle quickly and can be eliminated by the natural defense mechanism of the body, however small particles are airborne and are capable of passing through the body’s defenses and enter the lungs.

Source: Many sources can produce dust including: soil, pollen, lead-based paint, and burning of wood, oil, or coal.

Health Effects: Health effects vary depending upon the characteristics of the dust and any associated toxic materials. Dust particles may contain lead or other toxic materials. Other particles may be irritants or carcinogens (e.g., asbestos).

Control Measures: Keep dust to a minimum with good housekeeping. Consider damp dusting and high efficiency vacuum cleaners. Upgrade filters in ventilation systems to medium efficiency when possible and change frequently. During renovation, special precautions should be used to separate work areas from occupied areas.

2) Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS)

Tobacco smoke consists of solid particles, liquid droplets, vapors, and gases resulting from tobacco combustion. There are over 4,000 specific chemicals identified in the particulate and associated gases.

Source: Tobacco product combustion

Health Effects: The effects of tobacco smoke on smokers include nasal congestion, persistent cough, conjunctival irritation, headache, wheezing. Secondhand smoke is grouped as “Group A” carcinogen by EPA and has multiple health effects on children.

Control Measures: Smoke outside away from air intakes. Smoke only in designated smoking rooms that are properly ventilated and exhausted to the outdoors.

3) Lead (Pb)

Lead is a highly toxic metal.

Source: Lead is included in drinking water, food, contaminated soil and dust, and air. Lead-based paint is a common source of lead dust.

Health Effects: Lead can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, and RBCs. Lead exposure in children can result in interruptions in physical development, lower IQ levels, and an increase in behavioral problems.

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Control Measures: To reduce lead exposure activities like cleaning play areas; frequently mopping floors; preventing children from chewing on window ledges and other painted areas; and ensuring that toys are cleaned frequently and hands are washed before meals.

4) Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless gas. It results from incomplete oxidation of carbon in combustion processes.

Sources: Common sources of CO in schools are improperly vented furnaces and malfunctioning gas ranges. Worn or poorly adjusted and maintained boilers or furnaces can be significant sources. Auto, truck, or bus exhaust from attached garages can also be sources.

Health Effects: CO is an asphyxiate. An accumulation of CO may result in a variety of symptoms deriving from the compound’s affinity for and combination with hemoglobin, forming carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) which disrupts oxygen transport. Symptoms include fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

Control Measures: Combustion equipment must be maintained to assure that there are no blockages. Vehicles should be carefully managed nearby residential complexes.

5) Biological Contaminants

Common biological contaminants include mold, dust mites, droppings and body parts from cockroaches, rodents and other pests or insects, viruses, and bacteria. Many of these biological contaminants are small enough to be inhaled.

Sources: Biological contaminants are mostly living things or produced by them. They are often found in areas that provide food and moisture. Damp or wet areas such as cooling coils and unvented bathrooms can be moldy.

Health Effects: Dust mites, pest droppings or body parts causes asthma. Biological contaminants, including molds and pollens can cause allergic reactions for a significant portion of the population.

Control Measures: General good housekeeping and maintenance of heating and air conditioning equipment are very important. Adequate ventilation and good air distribution also help. Maintaining the relative humidity between 30 and 60 percent will help control dust mites, and cockroaches. Employ integrated pest management (IPM) to control insect and animal allergens.

So guys, keep in mind it is not just about the outdoor air, but also indoor air pollutants which acts as silent assassins. You should be ready to fight these killers by following the control measures listed above. Asian Paints is taking the initiative to fight with such indoor pollutants by launching their new paint “Royale Atmos” which reduces harmful air pollutants and makes the air cleaner. Additionally, it also absorbs various foul smells & makes the air fresher. Asian Paints presents a paint that not only looks good, but also helps purify air and improve the air quality inside your home.

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