Indoor air pollution is slowly degrading indoor air quality with the use of chemicals and other harmful substances commonly found in household products. Definitely, these substances are 10 times worse than the outdoor air pollution and most of us are not even aware of this fact.
Indoor air pollution only takes place because potential air pollutants build up indoors more than the outer space. Naturally, the health impacts of house air pollution are more than the outdoor pollution.
Indoor Air Pollution in India
The sources of indoor air pollution are mainly due to combustion, building materials, asbestos, pesticides, volatile organic matter, tobacco smoke to name a few.
In India, combustion products of biomass fuels contribute most of the indoor air pollution. Out of 1.3 billion people in India, below mentioned percentage people use fuel for cooking as per the statistics provided by the WHO:
- 49% use firewood
- 9% use cow dung cake
- 5% use coal or charcoal
- 9% use kerosene
- 6% use LPG
- 1% use electricity
- 4% use biogas
- 5% use other means
Rising Problem of Indoor Air Pollution
A study on quantifying exposures to respiratory particulate matter found concentrations of particulate matter ranging from 500 to 2,000 mg/m3 during cooking in biomass-using households. Average 24-h exposures ranged from 82 ± 39 mg/m3 for those using clean fuels, to 231 ± 109 mg/m3 for those who used biomass fuel for cooking. In indoor air, carbon monoxide levels during cooking by dung, wood, coal, kerosene, and LPG were found to be 144, 156, 94, 108, and 14 mg/m3, respectively. The indoor levels of total polyaromatic hydrocarbons during use of dung, wood, coal, kerosene, and LPG were 3.56, 2.01, 0.55, 0.23, and 0.13 mg/m3 of air, respectively. The formaldehyde means levels were 670, 652, 109, 112, and 68 mg/m3, respectively, for dung, wood, coal, kerosene, and LPG.
Effects of Indoor Air Pollution on Health
Did you know the ill effects of indoor air pollution caused about 2 million premature deaths a year?
It is way more than the death caused by pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.
The incomplete combustion products of biomass fuels include suspended particulate matter, carbon monoxide, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, polyorganic matter, formaldehyde, etc., which have adverse effects on health. The combustion of coal results in the production of oxides of sulfur, arsenic, and fluorine. Pollutants such as aldehydes, volatile, and semivolatile organic compounds are produced from resins, waxes, polishing materials, cosmetics, and binders. Lastly; biological pollutants like dust mites, molds, pollen, and infectious agents produced in stagnant water, mattresses, carpets, and humidifiers to pollute indoor air.
Pregnant women, young children, and senior citizens are the most affected groups as they spend the majority of their time in the home. Indoor air pollution increases the potential of health risks such as respiratory illness, and acute respiratory tract infection. Stillbirth, lung cancer, leukemia are health issues which are directly attributed from inhaling indoor polluted air. There have been studies which are proof that the effect of wood smoke also causes cardiovascular health issues.
With the increase in indoor air pollution in India and its association with an increased number in morbidity and mortality, we need to access the exposure levels of the indoor air pollutants. At the same time, effective measure against air pollution, educating people about the various levels of pollution, change in the fuel consumption, proper designing of household energy and house, and dedicated approach to promote public health is the only need of the hour.
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