Indoor Air Pollution - Breathfresh
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Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution - Why should you worry?

"Air is an essential part of human existence and good air is important for healthy and longer living."

Frequent sneezing, on-going sniffles, extreme fatigue and watery eyes - if you go to the doctor they will say that these appear to be the symptoms of an ordinary head cold. Recent studies suggest that such symptoms may be the result of spending a lot time indoors and possibly because of Indoor Air Pollution.'Indoor Air' is air within a building such as your home, classroom, office, shopping center, hospital or gym. We say 'Indoor air pollution' if the indoor air is contaminated by smoke, chemicals, smells or particles.Indoor air pollution is the cause of a host of different diseases, including respiratory diseases and cancer. You may not know it, but it directly impacts you, your family and your home. If you care about your own wellbeing as well as your family’s, you must also care about indoor air pollution.

Indoor air pollution is increasingly becoming one of the greatest concerns around the world, even greater than outdoor pollution. Former is claiming more lives than the later. This is because the studies suggest, indoor air can upto 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Most of us spend most of our times indoor and this is why deteriorating air quality has a far more impact on our health than we can imagine. India is unfortunately taking the biggest brunt as it is among the top most countries when it comes to polluted indoor air.

India’s confined indoor spaces are a haven for toxins, as they can grow ever more rapidly. The Hindustan Times reports that indoor air pollution claims a million lives every year in India alone. It indicates that indoor air pollution is the second biggest killer in India after high blood pressure. Besides the loss of lives, air contamination also causes nausea, headache, dizziness, cough and increased risk of cancer and asthma.

According to a survey by Artemis Hospital, under the Clean Air India Movement, covering 628 people across houses and offices in Gurgaon, indoor air quality in Gurgaon is poor. The survey covered offices belonging to the manufacturing, information technology and automobile industries; the houses covered belonged to DLF Phase-III, Sector 4, Nirvana Country and Sushant Lok.

The survey made shocking revelations, reporting that 76% of houses and offices had PM (particle matter) levels 2.5 times what is considered normal. The survey highlighted the connection between the quality of indoor air and lung health, reporting that due to the indoor quality of air being unhealthy, 31% of respondents suffered some form of airway disease whereas 46% were discovered to suffer from symptoms of respiratory disease. It also reported that since people were indoors for the vast majority of the time, and since indoor air pollutants are 1,000 times likelier to impact the lungs, people are at greater health risks indoors than outdoors. The survey also reported that indoor air pollution is a cancer-causing agent.

The first, most obvious source of indoor air pollution is outdoor air pollution that invades indoor areas, including smoke from vehicular exhausts pipes and industrial waste. Other sources of indoor air pollution are right under our noses, originating from within the household. Mildew and cleaning chemicals from our bathrooms; dust mites (tiny insects living in our beds) and pet hairs from our bedrooms; asbestos and dust from the attic; carpeting, furniture chemicals and tobacco smoke from our living rooms; radon, solvents and carbon monoxide from our garages and basements; smoke, chemicals and carbon monoxide from our kitchens; and pollen, dust and pesticides from our yards all contribute to indoor air pollution. We also create indoor air pollutants every time we employ solid fuels, such as dung, wood and charcoal for cooking or warmth, the fuels releasing smoke as well as other harmful particle matter.

Indoor Air Pollution Sources

Some common sources of indoor air pollution are products that we use quite casually, being unaware of the harm that they are causing. These include floor cleaners, pet dander, air-fresheners, home printer inks, chemical based cleaners, wardrobe dry cleaning chemicals, stove burners, paints, mold, humidity and mosquito repellants.

Air purifiers, marketed as being able to kill bacteria and mold, are actually sources of indoor air pollution too. They release great amounts of ozone into the air. Ozone happens to be the main component in smog. It can cause coughing, asthma attacks and damage lung tissue, leading to lasting, life-shortening damage.

The paint we use to decorate our walls also damages our lungs and even our brains. Lead paint in particular is extremely dangerous, a component of older homes that can damage your children’s health while they play, getting it onto their hands and mouths. Lead causes brain damage that is permanent, so something has to be done about old lead paint.


Indoor Air Pollution can cause mild discomfort, or it can result in the development of serious health conditions like cancer or chronic respiratory diseases. These are some of the symptoms of Indoor Air Pollution in the short-term, symptoms that must be watched out for, especially if your household or workplace includes babies, young children or senior citizens:

  • Sinus Congestion
  • Coughing & Sneezing
  • Dryness or irritation of the nose, skin and throat
  • Allergies & Hypersensitivity
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness and/or Nausea
  • Upper respiratory congestion

Most people notice these symptoms after being in the polluted room or space for a few hours. Here are some respiratory illnesses caused by indoor air pollution:

  • Severe lung disease
  • Wheezing; asthma worsening
  • Pharyngitis (which refers to a sore throat)
  • Cough
  • Dyspnea (pain while breathing or breathing difficulties)
  • Epistaxis (bleeding of the nose)
  • Rhinitis and nasal congestion (when the nose becomes inflamed or runny)

And here are some long term and more severe problems caused by indoor air pollution:

  • Hearing loss
  • Anorexia
  • Malaise, lethargy
  • Myalgia (pain in the muscles)
  • Dizziness
  • Tachycardia (rapid beating of the heart, at times resulting in breath shortness)
  • Chills and fevers
  • Rashes
  • Conjunctival (irritation of the eyes)

Safety First: Tips to Protect Your Family & Yourself

Keep it Clean.

  • Clean your house regularly with water only to reduce buildup of dust mites and dirt particles.
  • Use non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Smoking indoors should not be allowed.
  • All appliances should undergo seasonal maintenance checkups.
  • Use of construction and craft materials (glues, paints, carpet, building materials) that contain volatile organic compounds should be avoided.
  • Don’t allow pets in the bedroom, especially if they’ve been outdoors.

Keep it Fresh.

  • Make sure that your homes are adequately ventilated, especially if they contain old lead paint.
  • Air your house regularly, opening windows and running exhaust fans.
  • Eliminate pollution from your home, such as dust-collecting clutter.

Keep it Green.

  • Use leafy indoor plants to clean the air naturally and increase the flow of oxygen.
  • Avoid using gas stoves or furnaces to heat your house.

Did you know that Indoor Air Pollution kills more than 1 million Indians every year? Aptly termed India’s ‘Silent Killer’, indoor air pollution can be ten times more deadly than environmental air pollution in open spaces. Smoke and particles from wood-burning stoves, residue from aerosol paint or glue spray cans, nitrogen oxides or carbon monoxide from defective gas appliances can all contribute to the buildup of toxic gases indoors. The use of wood-burning or other biomass stoves indoors, especially in rural areas, is the leading contributor to this fatal phenomenon.

Indoor Air Pollution has gone unchecked for so long that it is the sole reason for 2 million premature deaths in India on an annual basis. Every Indian citizen should face this hazardous reality by arming themselves with facts and taking steps to reduce the health risk in their homes and workplaces.