As NCR is reeling with pollution that is now reaching an epidemic level, we decided to look for natural solutions that can help purify indoor air. That is when we came across NASA study on air-purifying plants. But before that, let’s delve for a minute on the importance of indoor air quality and a few tips that you can use to improve air quality at your home.
Why should we worry about indoor air pollution?
As kids, we all have spent most of our time, out in the sun, playing with friends. Growing up, we settled for investing time indoors such as in offices, houses, warehouses, and industries. Due to less physical and more mental exercise, what we eat, drink and breathe matters. We spend most of the time indoors and breathe in air which is full of pollutants. According to a study by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is on an average 10 times more polluted than outdoor air.
Causes of indoor air pollution
The air inside a house or office space can easily be polluted from a variety of household chores and items of daily use. Usual culprits are cooking residues, air fresheners, deodorants, detergents, cigarette smoke and chemicals emitted from paints and furniture. The chemical pollutants usually present in the indoor environment are carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, toluene, and xylene. Humans get exposed to benzene from cigarette smoke and petroleum products. Trichloroethylene present in adhesives and paint remover can damage central nervous system. The sticking of these chemicals in the air can lead to asthma, headaches, nausea and nasal congestion.
Improving indoor air quality
The easiest solution for improving indoor air quality is to allow proper ventilation of your house on daily basis. It helps in improving indoor air quality by providing an outlet for the stale indoor air and letting in fresh air from outside. But, ventilation is a tricky subject to master. If you are living in cities with poor outdoor air quality or near highways or industrial hubs or high traffic zones, then prolonged ventilation may not be an option for you. In fact, it may do more harm than good by bringing in a lot of pollutants from outside.
Handy tips for improving indoor air quality
Here are a few tips, that one can follow in their daily lives to improve indoor air quality: –
1. Whenever, outside air quality permits, do open the windows of your house for at least a couple of hours a day.
2. Usually, the best time for ventilation is early morning hours when traffic has not yet set-in. Most of the heavy pollutants during this time will be at ground level and not yet suspended in outside Air.
3. Switch to herbal, non-toxic or less toxic products for floor mopping and household cleaning.
4. If you have any unused paint, solvent or chemicals stored in your house, dispose of them. Whichever items you cannot dispose of, make sure to store them in a closed opaque container. Ensure that the contents are not exposed to light or air.
5. Use a chimney or an exhaust fan in your kitchen.
6. Ensure periodic cleaning of items like ceiling fan blades, ACs air filters, the top surface of cabinet or shelves or any other place where dust may have accumulated. All these places provide the perfect environment for the growth of molds.
7. Switch from a spray based deodorant to a roller one.
8. Reduce the amount of carpeting in your house. Carpets trap water, dust and heavy pollutants. Your carpet is probably one of the unhealthiest items in your household. Use a vacuum cleaner to clean it weekly and get a professional company to clean it periodically.
9. Invest in a humidifier. It won’t pinch your pocket like an air purifier but will bring some improvement in indoor air quality. A humidifier increases relative humidity making the air more breathable and helps with a dry nose, cough, and cold.
10. Invest in an air cleaner/filter. You can go for an artificial one or you can get plants that act as a natural filter against specific pollutants.
Coming back to NASA study and plants that act as a natural air filter. We are studying which ones of those may suit growing conditions in India and which ones may be best suited indoors. We will be detailing this out in a post next Tuesday. Stay Safe.
Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.
He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.