We all know that air pollution is hazardous to our health and it’s a contributing factor for many diseases. Outdoor air pollution ranks in the top ten killers on earth. It occurs when the air contains harmful amount of gases, dust, fumes and odour. The effects of this deadly substances can have devastating effects on your health and the environment.
Air pollution and resulting deaths are increasing fastest in Asia. Last year, a study by the World Health Organisation found that Delhi had the dirtiest atmosphere of 1,600 cities around the world for PM2.5 particles (PM stands for particulate matter – solid particles or liquid droplets in the air).
The WHO states that the most health-damaging particles are those with a diameter of 10 microns or less. This is due to the ability of the smaller particles to travel deeper into the lungs and pass into the blood stream.
According to World Health Organisation, India is ranked among the world’s worst for its air pollution, with 13 out of 20 most polluted cities of the world in India alone. Air pollution in India is estimated to cause 527, 700 deaths every year.
The equivalent measure for London was 16 micrograms per cubic metre and due to the increasing level of pollution in the country the number of deaths due to pulmonary and respiratory diseases is also shooting up significantly.
But how bad is London? It depends where you compare it with. Research by MIT proves that around 13,000 British citizens die due to air pollution from vehicles an power plants. As the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) points out, due to its dense road network, high buildings, the size of the city and the volume of traffic, the capital fares badly compared with other cities in the UK.
To keep themselves from falling ill, most people are staying indoors to avoid contact with the outdoor air and feel protected within the confines of their home. However, most of us do not realise that the air inside our homes can be up to 10 times more polluted than the outside air, according to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As an average person spends around 90% of their time indoors, either at work or at home, indoor air quality plays a significant part in the general state of health. This is particularly true for children, elderly people and other vulnerable groups. While we pay attention to our health when considering our diet, most of us are indifferent to the quality of the air we breathe.
The immediate effects of poor indoor air quality may show up after a single exposure or repeated exposures. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
The air quality was perceived as worse at higher levels of exposure to dust and dust mites, with 91% respondents attributing it to be the prime cause of indoor air pollution.
Studies further indicate that exposure to prolonged indoor air pollution can cause diseases such as ischemic heart disease stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lower respiratory tract infection and lung cancer triggered by constant exposure to air pollution.
However, there are a couple of steps that can be taken to reduce the risks of excessive indoor air pollution. Make sure your house is well ventilated and you avoid smoking at home. Perfumes, hair sprays, furniture polish, glues, air fresheners, moth repellents, wood preservatives, and many other products used in the house are also a source of indoor pollutants. Keep your house dust free as dust particles and pollen from plants are generally a cause of allergies, and in some extreme cases, it can also cause cancer.
If proper hygiene is maintained and necessary action is taken, you can minimize the risk and mitigate indoor air quality problems effectively.