5 Top Ways to Reduce the Impact of Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air pollution is one of the greatest environmental dangers of the 21st century. According to the World Health Organization, more than 7 million people die each year due to the adverse impacts of air pollution on respiratory, cardiovascular and neurovascular systems. Recent studies have also found that the indoor air pollution can also have devastating impacts on mental well-being, ranging from mood disorders to neurodegenerative diseases. Let us explore how we can reduce our exposure to indoor air pollution, thus avoiding physical health and mental well-being issues:

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1. Natural Ventilation

It is the best way to allow fresh air into indoor living spaces. Natural ventilation allows replacement of stale air with fresh air, thus helping to control room temperature, replenish oxygen, remove maldors and harmful airborne pollutants, and expelling carbon dioxide.

Short-term indoor activities, like painting, welding, soldering or sanding, have the potential to generate high levels of toxic pollutants which may persist in the air over a long period of time unless ventilation systems are used. Harmful indoor pollutants, such as formaldehyde and radon, can contribute to building-related illnesses commonly known as the sick building syndrome. It is essential to have a proper design of the ventilation system in order to provide indoor air free from pollutants.

2. Air Cleaners

An air cleaner improves the indoor air quality by removing pollutants from the air in a confined space, especially particle pollution. Air purifiers can effectively remove the common indoor air pollutants such as malodors, smoke, dirt and pet dander. The filter in the clean air captures the pollutants while the clean air is introduced into the room using the in-built fan. The filters are made up of paper, fiberglass or mesh, and require periodic cleaning and replacement.

3. Dehumidifiers

Humidity has a major influence on indoor air quality. High levels of humidity encourage the growth of mold, dust mites, pollen and bacteria, besides increasing the concentration of VOCs. The purpose of a dehumidifier is to reduce the moisture level (between 35 to 50%), thus improving indoor air quality.

Using a fan, the dehumidifier draws warm air currents into its coils which contracts as it is fed through the refrigerated. The condensation is left inside the dehumidifier and falls into the storage tank while the dried air is released back into the room.

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4. Houseplants

Plants have effective air cleaning qualities and absorbs air pollutants, thus acting as a natural air purifier that is both cost-effective and therapeutic.  Houseplants trap harmful toxins and remove common chemical compounds, such as formaldehyde, benzene and Trichlorothylene. Some of the popular air-purifying indoor plants include are rubber tree, spider plant, snake plant, weeping fig and peace lily.

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5. Therapeutic Methods

The mental health issues associated with indoor air pollution can be tackled by therapeutic tools. Environmental therapy aims to treat environment-related health problems by strengthening the connection between the environment and its elements. The popular nature-based therapy activities are nature meditation, horticultural therapy, animal-assisted therapy and nature conservation tasks.

Light therapy is an emerging therapy which involves the use of an artificial source of light to treat depressive disorders with seasonal patterns, sleep issues and other types of depression. The patient sits near a device called light therapy box which gives off bright light that mimics the natural light. It is believed that light therapy has a positive impact on brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, thus easing depressive disorders. Light therapy is also known as phytotherapy.

Bottom Line

Indoor air pollution is responsible for a wide range of physical and mental health issues. To mitigate the harmful impacts of air pollution, you can improve natural ventilation, use air purifiers, dehumidifiers and houseplants in your premises, and opt for therapeutic treatment tools.

The Importance of Indoor Air Quality Monitoring

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns. Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later.

Health Impacts of Air Pollutants

Some health effects may show up shortly after a single exposure or repeated exposures to a pollutant. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable.

Sometimes the treatment is simply eliminating the person’s exposure to the source of the pollution, if it can be identified. Soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants, symptoms of some diseases such as asthma may show up, be aggravated or worsened.

The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors including age and preexisting medical conditions. In some cases, whether a person reacts to a pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies tremendously from person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological or chemical pollutants after repeated or high level exposures.

In long-term effects, other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.

Reasons for Poor Indoor Air Quality

Gas and respirable particulates in the air are the primary sources that contribute to poor IAQ. Sources can include inadequate ventilation, poorly maintained HVAC systems, cooking stoves, non-vented gas heaters, tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust emissions, building materials, carpeting, furniture, maintenance products, solvents, cleaning supplies etc.

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The actual concentrations of these pollutants can also be amplified by other external factors including poor ventilation, humidity, and temperature.

Air Genius – Best Indoor Air Quality Monitor

Air Genius is a state-of-the-art indoor air quality monitor that you should have at your house or in your office to monitor the air that we breathe. The device, developed by India-based Next Sense Technologies, uses the latest sensors to determine particulate matter, VOCs, total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity and other important parameters.

We have taken a leap in technological advancement by relaying the data automatically to the server so that you can access the data remotely and in real-time. Through this, one could take initiatives on switching on the Air purifier or by keeping the window open for allowing the fresh air.

Typical Applications for Air Genius Indoor Air Quality Monitor

  • IAQ complaint investigation and analysis
  • HVAC system performance monitoring
  • Air quality engineering analysis
  • Mold investigation and remediation
  • Health and comfort assessment
  • Airport lounges, shopping malls, offices
  • Colleges, schools and kindergartens
  • Hospitals and healthcare establishments

For business enquiries about Air Genius Air Quality Monitor, please visit  http://www.nextsensetechnologies.com/ or contact Mr. Mohammad Hamza on +91-9540990415 or email on enggenvsolution@gmail.com or salman@bioenergyconsult.com

Clean Cookstoves: An Urgent Necessity

Globally, three billion people in the developing nations are solely dependent on burning firewood, crop residues, animal manure etc for preparing their daily meals on open fires, mud or clay stoves or simply on three rocks strategically placed to balance a cooking vessel.  The temperature of these fires are lower and produce inefficient burning that results in black carbon and other short-lived but high impact pollutants.

These short-lived pollutants not only affect the persons in the immediate area but also contribute much harmful gases more potent than carbon dioxide and methane. For the people in the immediate area, their health is severely hampered as this indoor or domestic air pollution results in significantly higher risks of pneumonia and chronic bronchitis.

To remedy the indoor air pollution (IAP) and health-related issues as well as the environmental pollution in the developing world, clean cookstoves are the way to advance. But to empower rural users to embrace the advanced cookstoves, and achieve sustainable success requires a level of socio-cultural and economic awareness that is related directly to this marginalized group. The solution needs to be appropriate for the style of cooking of the group which means one stove model will not suit or meet the needs and requirements of all developing nation people groups.

Clean cookstoves can significantly reduce health problems caused by indoor air pollution in rural areas

Consideration for such issues as stove top and front loading stove cooking, single pot and double pot cooking, size of the typical cooking vessel and the style of cooking are all pieces of information needed to complete the picture.

Historically, natural draft systems were devised to aid the combustion or burning of the fuels, however, forced draft stoves tend to burn cleaner with better health and environmental benefits. Regardless of cookstove design, the components need to be either made locally or at least available locally so that the long term life of the stove is maintainable and so sustainable.

Now, if the cookstove unit can by powered by  simple solar or biomass system, this will change the whole nature of the life style and domestic duties of the chief cook and the young siblings who are typically charged with collecting the natural firewood to meet the cooking requirement.

Therefore the cookstoves need to be designed and adapted for the people group and their traditional cooking habits, and not in the reverse order. To assess the overall performance of the green cooking stoves requires simple but effective measures of the air quality.

The two elements that need to be measured are the black carbon emissions and the temperature of the cooking device.  This can be achieved by miniature aerosol samplers and temperature sensors. The data collected needs to be transmitted in real-time via mobile phones for verification of performance rates.  This is to provide verifiable data in a cost effective monitoring process.