INTRODUCTION

As we go about our daily lives, we are all exposed to a number of health dangers. There are some risks that can’t be avoided. But we can take steps to reduce certain risks, such as protecting ourselves from indoor air pollution. We spend 90 percent of our time indoors as compared to outdoors.

So, it is very important to know about indoor air quality(IAQ). 

Occasionally, it’s very possible that the air you breathe indoors is more contaminated than the air outside. Indoor air pollution can have an immediate negative impact on health or linger for years.

 

The Long-term effects of Indoor Air Pollution:-

If you spend most of your time indoors and breathe polluted air, it can be more dangerous than you think. The impact of air pollution can be seen after many years, and it can reduce your lifespan as well. Heart diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer, etc. are the long-term effects of indoor air pollution.

 

The immediate effect of indoor air pollution:-

A single exposure to a pollutant or repeated exposure may cause some serious health problems that manifest quickly after exposure. These include headaches, lightheadedness, and weariness, as well as eye, nose, and throat discomfort. Such effects are usually short-term and treatable. Some immediate effects are similar to those of colds and viral diseases. It is difficult to differentiate if the symptoms come from exposure to indoor air pollution or if it is the common cold. You can find it by the time and place when symptoms occur. If symptoms disappear when you are away from that particular place, then it is easy to identify that symptoms are caused by indoor air sources. A lack of outdoor air entering the building, internal heating, cooling, or humidity conditions may worsen some impacts.

 

Air quality index:- We often come across terms on social media and television like code green or code red for air quality or like AQI in Delhi crosses 350,  what does this actually mean? 

The Air Quality Index is in action here. What actually is AQI?  

Air Quality Index (AQI) is a numerical indicator that is used by governmental organizations to estimate the degree of air pollution and inform the public.

The AQI system is used to alert people when air pollution is harmful. Air quality indexes are divided into six categories. Each category has a different level of health concern and has a specific color. These colors determine whether the air quality is healthy or unhealthy.

Some of the most polluted cities in India according to AQI are – 

CITY 

Air Quality Index (AQI)

Alipur, Delhi 

539

Pitampura, Delhi 

469

Bawana, Delhi

371

Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh 

338

Sonipat, Haryana 

329

Delhi, Delhi 

323

Dadri, Uttar Pradesh

320

Sector, Uttar Pradesh 

317

 

Indoor air quality (IAQ):- 

The term “Indoor air quality” (IAQ) describes the nature and composition of the air we breathe inside our home. The health, comfort, and well-being of building inhabitants are known to be impacted by IAQ. Sick building syndrome, decreased productivity, and poor academic performance in schools have all been connected to poor Indoor air quality. Indoor air can be polluted by dust particles generated during cooking and by different chemicals such as perfumes and room fresheners.   

Agents that can degrade indoor air quality:-

Different types of agents degrade indoor air quality.

  • Biological pollutants: Bacteria, molds, viruses, pollen, dust mites, etc.
  • Anthropogenic sources also known as man-made sources: Cigarettes, Paints, hairspray, etc.
  • Non-anthropogenic sources: Air currents, wildfires, etc.
  • Chemicals:  Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Particulate matter such as PM 2.5, etc.   

 

IEQ Parameters:- For indoor environmental quality (IEQ), five measured parameters were investigated, such as

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), 

Carbon dioxide (CO2), 

Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC), 

Temperature (T), and 

Relative humidity (RH).

Effects of particulate matter on indoor air quality:-

What is Particulate Matter or PM? 

Particulate Matter (PM) are particles or droplets composed of a mixture of elements. 

PM 2.5/PM10/PM 1 is the concentration of microscopic particles measured in mass density, and its units are micrograms per cubic meter. 

What does PM 2.5 mean?

PM 2.5 has a diameter of 2.5 µm or less than 2.5 µm,  (PM2.5) – Most particles that can adversely affect our health fall under the fine category. 

These particles have diameters that are at least 2.5 microns or smaller. This includes stuff like smoke and haze.

What does PM 10 mean?

PM10 – These are the largest particle, such as wind-blown dust., ranging from 2.5 to 10 microns in aerodynamic diameter. The particulate matter affects indoor air quality by making the air polluted. These particles are so small, they can penetrate our lungs and blood and can cause respiratory diseases.

Effect of the volatile organic compound on indoor air quality:-

Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC):- Volatile organic compounds (VOC) agents are found in indoor air. VOCs are emitted as gasses and present in many household products, such as paints, cleaning, disinfection, and cosmetic products. VOCs cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, etc. It can even lead to lung and even liver failure. It was found that VOCs can cause cancer in humans.   

Sources of indoor air pollution:-

Carpet: In our home, we use carpets, which also cause indoor pollution. Carpets trap allergens, dust, smoke, etc. It is found that carpets also trap some toxic gases that cause serious respiratory diseases.

Fragrances: We use different types of fragrances such as room fresheners, cosmetics, and scented candles. In these fragrances, more than 3000 chemicals are found such as UV-absorbers, dyes, preservatives etc which cause respiratory problems, asthma, migraine, cancer etc. 

Carbon dioxide(CO2):

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colourless  and odourless gas. We continuously exhale CO2. This emission contributes to increasing the level of CO2 in the indoor environment (Wanner, 1993). Indoor CO2 concentration should be 700 ppm and 2000 ppm (parts per million)  (again, what is ppm), but it can be exceeded to 3000 ppm during the use of unvented appliances (Arashidani et al., 1996). If the level is above 30,000 ppm, it can lead to headaches, dizziness, and nausea (Schwarzberg, 1993, Yang et al. (1997). Carbon dioxide can also act as a respiratory irritant (Maroni et al., 1995). High levels of CO2 can cause stuffiness and discomfort(Pettenkofer, 1858).

Carbon monoxide:-

It is also a toxic, odourless gas that is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuel (IEH, 1996).  Water heaters, gas or coal heaters, and gas stoves are indoor sources of CO (Gold, 1992). 

High indoor levels of CO can also result from the entry of outdoor vehicle exhausts into the ventilation system of a building.

CO can be easily associated with haemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying protein), Due to this the  oxygen concentration in the blood becomes low and can cause many diseases (Roughton and Darling, 1994),  such as headache, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea (Stewart et al., 1970).    

Cigarette smoking:-

Cigarette smoking is an important source of indoor air pollution. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of harmful particles, such as particles, vapours, and gases. Cigarette smoke causes a wide range of chronic (lung) health impacts.

 

Conclusion :-

An essential requirement of life is clean air. An important factor in determining a healthy life and people’s well-being is the air quality within homes, offices, schools, daycare centres, public buildings, healthcare facilities, and other private and public structures where people spend a significant portion of their time. Indoor air pollution exposure has a very serious negative impact on health worldwide. We might not be able to control all these factors, but the health of yours and your loved ones is in your hands. With the ever-increasing use of technology in almost every aspect of life, air purifiers by far are one of the most beneficial inventions. These purifiers not only provide you with the cleanest and healthiest air but also maintain an acceptable Indoor air quality (IAQ) that is healthy for your body.

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