In this blog post, we will discuss “How can we prevent indoor air pollution?” Firstly, the article will discuss the basics of air pollution. Then, we will outline the meaning of indoor air pollution. Finally, the article will mainly focus on the comprehensive solutions to indoor air pollution.
How can we prevent indoor air pollution?
Indoor air pollution can mainly affect the respiratory system of the human body. Poor indoor air quality levels can cause mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and tiredness. The pollutants found indoors are as follows:
- Bacteria and fungi
- Mould and Pollens
- Allergens and irritants
- Volatile Organic Compounds
- Carbon monoxide
- Particulate matter
- Nitrogen dioxide
Let’s see the basics of air pollution.
What is air pollution?
The introduction of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere is called air pollution. These pollutants are in the form of liquid droplets, solid particles and gases.
How is air pollution caused at my home?
Air pollution created inside a closed environment is called indoor air pollution. Many household activities such as heating, cooking, cleaning and other miscellaneous activities significantly contribute to indoor air pollution. Therefore, indoor pollution contributes to ambient air pollution. In addition, many regular household products such as cleaning sprays, varnish, paints, solvent removers, perfumes, tobacco smoke and incense stick can pollute the air.
Asbestos can also cause deterioration of indoor air. It is found in various products such as home construction materials, and they are commonly detected in paints, coatings, ceilings and floor tiles. Generally, the old products or older houses would be having more presence of this toxic material than the newer ones.
Asbestos can cause shortness of breath, loss of appetite, chest pain, tightness and persistence of dry cough. But the good news is that the United States has banned its use in construction activities and it’s no longer used. Formaldehydes group are colourless gas having a pungent smell. Even though its production has been banned in the United States since 1970, they are still found in paints, sealants and wooden floors. Carpets also use formaldehyde as permanent adhesives.
Radon is one such toxic agent which is found underneath homes. Radon is usually discovered in bedrock and other building materials that cause indoor air pollution. The gases from radon can seep through the basement and cause a significant risk to the residents. Tobacco smoke is also one of the neglected and concerning air pollutants. The study also revealed that pregnant women smoking cigarettes caused a potential threat to the fetus development; the smoke can cause molecular changes. In addition, the tobacco smoke exposure of the mothers caused hindrances in the lung development of the fetus. Researchers further analyzed that such children at early stages and later teens got asthma or experienced asthmatic problems.
You would like to keep fresh flowers keeping in your living room. You also would be having furry friends living with you. Though I am not very keen on plucking flowers or purchasing them to decorate my house, I love doggies and other furry pets. But they all come with one big drawback. They can produce biological pollutants such as pollens, mould, bacteria, viruses and animal dander, developing asthmatic symptoms in people.
Gas appliances such as heaters, wood stoves, space heaters, dryers, fireplaces and space heaters release hazardous pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates. Carbon monoxide and particulates, as mentioned earlier, causes many respiratory and heart-related ailments. High levels of nitrogen dioxide can cause a hazard to the human respiratory tract. It can increase the susceptibility to various respiratory infections and asthma. Prolonged exposure to elevated amounts of nitrogen dioxide can result in chronic lung disease. It can also affect the smelling ability of humans.
The fumes released from the paraffin wax candles causes air to pollute. Research done by South Carolina State University said that paraffin wax releases toxic chemicals such as benzene and toluene indoors. Even the office stationeries such as copiers, laser printers, correction fluids, etc., release volatile organic compounds which deeply penetrate the lungs and inflame their linings. Besides, dry cleaned laundry clothes contain highly toxic substances such as trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene. All the pollutants, as mentioned earlier, can cause throat and nose irritation, flu, dizziness, anaemia and other allergic reactions. They can irritate your respiratory tract too. In addition, toxic chemicals can cause lung cancer and damage vital organs such as the liver, kidney and brain.
Air experts around the globe also suggest the use of beauty products can also contribute to air pollution. The majority of the cosmetics and perfumes available in the market contain toxic pollutants such as volatile organic compounds. These pollutants are released into the air when they are used. Thus, the fashion industry or the increased population using such products can significantly reduce air pollution.
But don’t worry. I will give you some solutions to prevent indoor air pollution.
Practical Steps to Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
Polishing substances like varnish and nail polish contain toxic chemicals such as acetone and volatile organic compounds. Thus, you should avoid using these products in an enclosed room having no ventilation system. If you ever want to use them, make sure that you use them in a well-ventilated area, and there is enough circulation of air to move away from these toxic substances from the house. Also, I recommend that if you are varnishing your furniture, try doing it in your backyard and let it dry outside for a while. Exposure to such kinds of pollutants can cause lung problems and cancer.
Volatile Organic Compounds such as toluene and benzene are often detected on items such as glues, paints, fabrics and many other construction materials. If you buy a new sofa or armchair, it will produce such VOCs at heavy intensity, but it will eventually reduce. If possible for you, you can keep these newly purchased products in your garage for a short duration, say for a week or so. Don’t worry if you don’t have a garage or any backyard. You can at least keep the windows of your room open most of the days in the first few months. Try to arrange your furniture and other accessories in a spacious manner; don’t clutter them. Reducing clutter can decrease dust accumulation, which has bacteria, mould, mites, and fungi. The presence of cockroaches can increase the risk of asthma. Minimizing clutter of furniture can significantly mitigate indoor air pollution.
Kitchen chimney for gas stoves
As explained above, gas stoves can generate gases such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, which can irritate your lungs. Therefore, it is essential to install suitable kitchen chimneys to remove smoke from cooking activities or other gases produced while using cookstoves to avoid such irritation. It would also be best if you frequently wash and clean the kitchen filters of the chimneys. Cleaning them can effectively remove all the pollution of the kitchen. You should also install exhaust fans to remove any leftover smoke.
Below I will recommend some of the kitchen chimneys if you plan to buy
|Kitchen Chimneys||Why I recommend it|
|HisoHu 36 Inch Stainless Steel||User-Friendly ProductNoise Reduction TechnologyEffective to remove cookingfumes and harmful substances Easy to clean five-layer filters|
|IKTCH 30 Inch Stainless Steel||Ample Airflow removes large amounts of smoke and cooking smell from the kitchen.Noise reduction technologyEnergy Saving LampsDishwasher safe and easyremovable permanent filters|
|COSMO 668A750 30-in Wall-Mount Range Hood||Efficient Airflow eliminates the smells and smoke of the cooking activities. Optional Carbon Filter Kit available for ductlessDishwasher safe stainless steel permanent filters available.Easy to install|
Choose Kitchen Oils Wisely
The kitchen smoke also depends on what kind of kitchen oils you use. Cooking oils at lower temperatures or low smoke points will create pollution in the kitchen, and you will experience the smell of burnt oil. For instance, extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point. The cooking oils having comparatively high smoking points are as follows:
If you only like olive oil, try switching to light olive oil, which is refined. According to the North American Olive Oil Association, light olive oil has a smoke point between 390 F and 470 F.
Above all, whenever the weather permits, always open windows to circulate fresh air. In addition, keep food items closed and appropriately sealed because this will keep pests away.
Besides, always make sure that you are keeping your house well ventilated. It would be best if you keep the doors of your balconies and windows open whenever the weather permits. In addition, I would strongly recommend you to use ventilators in the bathrooms and toilets to remove foul odour and accumulation of viruses and bacteria, if any. While cooking, make sure you keep the exhaust fans and chimneys on to eliminate any smoke produced while cooking.
If the weather is not allowing for natural air to pass through your home, you need to use air purifiers. Air purifiers help to maintain a healthy atmosphere in the house. It is okay with air purifiers to invest in good humidifiers and dehumidifiers. They allow you to balance the humidity levels indoors. You must be wondering which to buy. Don’t worry; I am providing its detail in the coming solutions.
Keep a tab on appliances health
If you are using all these appliances and chimneys and exhaust fans, it is necessary to maintain them properly. The dust and dirt can get accumulated and clogged in these machines. This can reduce their efficiency. Thus, it is essential to clean the filters and ducts of these appliances at regular intervals to reduce indoor air pollution.
Air purifiers help to improve indoor air quality. The risk of getting air pollution-related diseases decreases due to air purifiers. Air purifiers having good HEPA filters do an adequate job of filtering pollutants.
Air Purifiers I recommend are as follows:
|Name||Why I recommend it|
|Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier||● 99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured.|
|AIRMEGA 400S||● Reduction of 99.97% of particulates of 0.3 microns.● Also responsible for reducing more than 99% of VOCs, NH3 and CH3CHO.● Washable and permanent pre-filters are available|
|Blueair Pure 121||● Includes 3-part filtration system.● Captures 99% of common airborne PM 2.5 pollutants such as allergens, odours, smoke, mould spores, dust mites and pet dander.● An activated carbon filter removes common odours caused by smoke, pets, and gases (VOCs) and smoke caused by wildfires.|
The humidity levels in the office should be maintained between 30 and 50% in the office. This range helps keep dust mites, mould and other allergens under control. In addition, when AC or heater makes the air in the room dry, humidifiers can maintain correct humidity levels.
Humidifiers I recommend
|Name||Why I recommend it|
|Amazon Basics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier||● 4 litre of tank capacity● Auto shut-off feature and 12 or 24-hour timer settings● It can be used in both seasons|
|MOVTIP Humidifier||● Portable Mini-humidifier● 500 ml capacity, still produces longer mists● Easy to operate|
|LEVOIT Humidifier||● It can be used for both seasons● 6 litres of capacity● Easy to clean and has a remote control|
Dehumidifiers also work similarly to humidifiers. It controls the high levels of humidity in the office.
Dehumidifiers I recommend
|Name||Why I recommend it|
|Pro Breeze Dehumidifier||● Can extract 50 pints of moisture a day● Energy-saving auto-off system● Built-in Humidity sensor|
|HOmeLabs Dehumidifier||● Eliminates moistness, odour controller● Easy to clean● Removable water tank|
|TCL Portable Dehumidifier||● 20 pints of moisture removed per day● It can be operated at low temperatures too● Easy to maintain|
Air ionizers are machines that eliminate airborne pollutants using negative ions. The main job of this machine is to help the particles settle and then gather out of the air. Unfortunately, the negative ions released from the ionizers attach to microscopic particles such as tobacco smoke. This results in electrically charged particles clumping together on the surfaces like walls, ceilings, carpets, rugs, etc. However, once they are landed, they need to be cleaned up.
The ozone produced from ionizers can deactivate viruses in the air and surfaces. However, ozone can irritate and cause throat irritation, lung inflammation, and asthma. So, I suggest using this device only when you feel it is needed.
Don’t smoke in the home.
Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. I strongly recommend of stop smoking indoors and outdoors too. Active and passive smoking directly exposes harmful pollutants to your body. This causes the risk to your respiration and other organs dependent on it. Besides, cigarette butts can trigger particulate pollution. Moreover, smoke associated with tobacco and other smoking goods produces innumerable cancer-causing substances which are not suitable for human health of all ages- right from womb to older adults.
If you have a fireplace in your house, make sure that the flue damper is wholly open. This will reduce the clogging of dust, dirt and smoke particles from the fireplace. In addition, it will further prevent the release of carbon monoxide, which is often emitted due to incomplete combustion. The National Fire Protection Association states that fireplaces and vents should be inspected at least once a year. Also, it would be best if you cleaned your chimney with your chimney sweep log. However, such cosy fires can turn dangerous for your health. Thus, I recommend using energy-saving electric heaters installed permanently in essential corners of the room.
You might feel like using room fresheners or artificial fragrances to avoid the musty smell caused at home. But trust me, mixing synthetic odours with the existing ones will only worsen the house’s air quality. This is because the artificial fresheners contain VOCs and phthalates. These pollutants can harm the respiratory system.
To reduce the foul odour of the house, some beneficial oils like tea tree oil have antibacterial properties. This oil can be used to reduce airborne bacteria. You just require good quality electric diffuser to lessen the filthy pollutants. I will give you a list of some of the essential oils below:
The commercial candles contain paraffin wax which releases toluene and benzene, carcinogenic. In addition, the wicks of these candles have lead. You can replace these candles with natural beeswax candles, reducing indoor air pollution.
If your house or room is located in the basement, there are chances of radon gas lingering in the air. The fastest way to get rid of radon is to increase airflow in your house. For example, you can open windows and use fans and vents to grow fresh air circulation.
This will highly reduce the levels of radon gas. The US EPA has the most reliable radon reduction method like active sub-slab suction like sub-slab-depressurization. Here, suction pipes are inserted through the floor slab into the crushed rock. Besides, these can also be inserted below concrete slab from outside the home. Moreover, to remove asbestos from the house, you need to contact asbestos contractors for removing it from the house.
There’s a simple yet powerful saying- ‘cleanliness starts at home.’ Reducing indoor air pollution, the ones created due to indoor activities can significantly improve ambient air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.8 million deaths happen every year due to household exposure to smoke from improper cookstoves and fuels. In addition, indoor air pollution is produced due to the combustion of fossil fuels.
You can decrease poor air quality by adequately maintaining indoor hygiene. For example, you can frequently clean your cupboards and open decks to avoid an accumulation of dust particles. In addition, I would strongly recommend carpeting a minimum floor area.
You can use safer products such as baking soda instead of harsh chemicals to clean the surfaces. You can prefer choosing more air-friendly products to clean indoors. For example, you can select water-based products or have a low presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). You can also paint your home walls with a brush rather than a sprayer. In addition, you can store solvents in air-tight containers so that VOCs don’t escape in the air. For lawn mowing, you can use push or electric lawnmowers.
Home accessories like carpets attract many allergens and pollens. These pollutants get stuck to the carpet and degrade indoor air quality. You can vacuum these carpets and furniture such as sofas at least twice a week. Avoid using strong hair sprays. You can additionally use indoor plants to make your indoors more lively and fresh.
Indoor Plants, as said earlier, helps to purify indoor air quality. Firstly, due to the photosynthesis process, they inhale all carbon dioxide and, in return, supply fresh oxygen indoors. Many scientists have observed that these plants remove toxins too. In addition, these plants can absorb all cancer-causing volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde and benzene. These indoor plants are also easy to maintain.
The indoor plants which I recommend are as follows:
Water leaks from showers and taps can add to moisture and humidity in the air inside bathrooms and the kitchen. Moisture content and humidity can increase the risk of moulds and mildew. Moulds contain tiny particles which can penetrate the body and lead to illnesses like colds, persistent coughs and fungal infections. Thus, you should check the leaks from plumbers; this will reduce such presence of moulds.
Carbon monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide can choke a person and can result in death. In addition, it produces when you use gas stoves and its incomplete combustion. In such cases, it is good to use carbon monoxide detectors.
Opt for an advanced type of furnace filters
Furnace filters help people living inside the house breathe safe and clean air after the air has been heated or cooled by AC and heaters. The more advanced furnace filters will reduce air pollution than the traditional ones. These filters are made to clean the air up to 99.97%.
Your bedsheet might contain dust particles, minute volatile organic compounds and pet dander. These can get suspended in the atmosphere, and you can inhale them without your knowledge. Thus, washing the bedding at once a week in hot water is necessary to remove all the dirt and dust particles.
It’s essential to keep your furry friends clean and happy. Regular bathing will help their skin breathe. Unfortunately, the pet fur and dander can float inside the room and settle on the carpets, clothing, furniture and other open decks. These can cause an allergic reaction and asthmatic symptoms. Besides, pet allergies can have various symptoms such as runny nose, shortness of breath and coughing.
For instance, give your doggies a nice bath with hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner. These products can keep them safe from indoor air pollution and help keep the room clean of pet fur and dander. Pollens and allergens might get stuck in their hair and further absorbed by the skin. This can result in various infections and can prevent air pollution too. Keep them well-groomed.
Before entering a room or house, you can place a doormat to wipe your shoes and feet. Your shoes and feet can carry dust particles into the house. It is also best to remove your shoes and wash them after entering the home.
Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.
In this blog post, we discussed “How can we prevent indoor air pollution?” Firstly, the article discussed the basics of air pollution. Then, we outlined the meaning of indoor air pollution. Finally, the article mainly focused on the comprehensive solutions to indoor air pollution.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How can we prevent indoor air pollution?
How does the air get polluted?
Air pollution can occur in multiple ways. Human activities such as the transportation sector, industrial processes, and combustion of fossil fuels generate particulates and other toxic gases such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides. Natural events also create air pollution. Some of the instances are volcanic eruptions and dust storms.
What are the causes of air pollution?
The causes of air pollution are as follows:
- The burning of fossil fuels
- Indoor Air pollution
- Vehicular pollution
- Construction and demolition activities
Which produces the most pollution?
The burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation is the most produced pollution. These activities are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. GHG emissions from the transportation sector come from cars, trucks, ships, trains and aeroplanes.
Which country is carbon negative?
Bhutan country is the only country in the world to become carbon negative.
Which country has the highest and least emissions?
China has the highest emissions; they are the most significant contributor of CO2 emissions. In contrast, Tuvalu country has the lowest carbon footprint in the world. They continue to be in such a state by avoiding fossil fuels.
Who leads the world in air pollution?
China leads the world in air pollution. The United States and India follow this.
25+ Easy and effective ways to reduce indoor air pollution. Conserve Energy Future. Available at: https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/easy-and-effective-ways-to-reduce-indoor-air-pollution.php
50 ways to clean the air – riverside, California. Available at: https://www.riversideca.gov/air/pdf/50-ways.pdf
Farrell, M.H.J., 14 ways to reduce indoor air pollution. Consumer Reports. Available at: https://www.consumerreports.org/indoor-air-quality/ways-to-reduce-indoor-air-pollution/
Improving Indoor Air Quality. EPA. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/improving-indoor-air-quality
Kirschner, C., 12 ways to get Clean Air Without Chemicals. Treehugger. Available at: https://www.treehugger.com/ways-get-clean-air-without-chemicals-4864310