Have you checked the air quality in your room?

Recent research shows the air inside homes and offices can be more detrimental than outdoors.

Published: 29th September 2019 08:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th September 2019 08:00 AM   |  A+A-

Air pollution

For representational purposes ( Photo | Express Illustrations)

The next time you wake up with a headache, do not blame it only on being overloaded with work in office, getting stuck in a traffic jam while returning home from work or lack of sleep the previous night.

One of the major reasons could be lack of oxygen in your bedroom and the presence of very polluted air infested with large amounts of PM2.5, carbon dioxide and harmful gases. 

BreatheEasy Consultants, an indoor air quality solution provider, conducted a year-long study (April 2018 and March 2019) involving real-time monitoring of air quality inside more than 400 homes in Delhi-NCR spread across 200 large and small residential colonies.

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The findings revealed that most inhabitants of Delhi are not breathing pure air inside their homes.

Air quality was accessed inside various kinds of homes with respect to three air-borne pollutants: particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller (about 30-250 times smaller than diameter of human hair); carbon dioxide (CO2) and Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs), emitted as gases from certain solids and liquids inside homes.

“People are mostly bothered about the outdoor air pollution but little do we realise that the poor air quality that exists inside our homes and offices where we spend the maximum time. Not only are numerous pollutants released indoors, but outdoor air can also find its way inside.

We are very particular that the three to five litres of water we daily drink should be pure and rich in minerals, but hardly pay attention to the amount of carbon dioxide present in the 13,000 litres of air we breathe every day,” says Barun Aggarwal, CEO, BreatheEasy Consultants, New Delhi.

The study found that CO2 and various harmful gases present in volatile organic compounds like deodorants, room freshers, nail polish removers, etc., are the main pollutants inside Delhi-NCR homes, which exceed safety limits. This can have serious health repercussions, especially for children and the elderly. 

“The worst sufferers are homes with improper ventilation. It is important to have windows and ventilators and keep them open. Most homes lack this continual ventilation system,” says Aggarwal. The study states that the level of CO2 inside many homes was as high as 3,900 ppm as against the recommended safe limit of 750 ppm, and TVOC concentration exceeded 1,000 μg/m3, in contrast to the safety limit of 200 μg/m3.

The main pollutant that most air purifiers tend to ‘improve’ – PM2.5 – is typically marginally better indoors versus outdoors. The pollutants that tend to be five to 10 times worse indoors such as carbon dioxide (only when windows are closed) and TVOCs are not ‘removed’ or ‘improved’ by common air purifiers available in the market. 

Be alarmed

Contrary to popular belief that air pollution only affects the respiratory system, each and every organ system in human body gets affected by it. 

Studies have shown that increased carbon dioxide reduces cognitive abilities. So if your child is not performing well in studies get your home oxygen levels checked. 

Localities along the Shahdara drain in Noida, particularly in 500m area on both the sides of it, are worst affected because of the hydrogen sulphide emanating out of the drain. 

How to fix air quality indoors

Products like room fresheners, floor cleaners, mosquito repellents, nail polish removers, deodorants, paints, varnishes , vinyl flooring, dry cleaning etc., contain TVOCs. Try to limit their use.

Add as many plants as possible to your home. Areca palm, lady palm, bamboo palm, rubber plant, dracaena, peace lily, etc., absorb chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene present in household products. 
Install air purifiers but do thorough research before buying one. Most available in the market do a shoddy job. 

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