How indoor air pollution is 5 times worse than outdoors

New Delhi: As Delhi-NCR reels under massive air pollution after Diwali every year, leaving people with respiratory illnesses gasping for fresh air, experts on Tuesday said that as most people spend winter days inside and even though the indoor air quality may appear to be better than outdoor air quality, it can be up to five times worse.

The indoor and outdoor air pollution are often treated as two separate entities but outdoor pollutants, such as vehicle exhaust fumes, pollen and mould spores, can also enter our indoor spaces.

According to Dr Vipul Gupta, Chief – Neurointerventional Surgery and Co-Chief Stroke Unit at Artemis Hospital in Gurugram, it is believed that indoor air pollution is worse than outdoor air pollution as it is in a contained area which enables the potential pollutants to harm us even more.

“The harmful dust, dirt and gases present inside buildings are linked to several health concerns like cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases and/or development of several infections,” Dr Gupta told IANS.

The main cause behind indoor air pollution is known to be gases or particles released into the air, substances like building materials, tobacco smoke, wood-burning stoves cause indoor pollution.

Once inside, they can react with indoor pollutants, creating a complex cocktail of dirty air.

“Likewise, indoor pollutants, such as smoke from burning wood or cooking fumes, can exit buildings through ventilation. For example, air fresheners and deodorants may contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and benzene, while cleaning products can contain benzene and household fumes and odours,” Ginger Lee, Senior Electronics Engineer, at consumer electronics company Dyson told IANS.

Furniture and carpets can also emit formaldehyde and flame retardants that accumulate in the air, while emissions from cooking appliances, such as ovens and stoves, may contain a range of substances that deteriorate indoor air quality.

“As modern homes generally have better sealing, these pollutants can become trapped and are unable to escape,” said Lee.

According to a report in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine, statistics suggest that in developing countries, health impacts of indoor air pollution far outweigh those of outdoor air pollution.

Around 4.2 million people die prematurely due to indoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Lee said that their purifiers make the invisible visible, helping users to understand the types of pollution they are exposed to on a daily basis and giving peace of mind that these pollutants are being captured and that they are breathing clean air indoors.

The HEPA+Carbon filter removes 99.95 per cent of pollutants as small as 0.1 microns such as allergens, bacteria, pollen and mould spores and harmful gases.

Dr Gupta advised people to ensure ventilation as it will freshen the air present inside the room and will help in removing the polluted air.

“Along with ventilation, decluttering or cleaning your rooms/households every now and then is important for never letting dust settle and trap pollutants inside. Indoor plants are also a great way to prevent indoor air pollution as they will purify the air quality present inside,” he noted.

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