Household Pollution – The Killer behind your doors!


Pollution, of any form, has always been a major concern for our society. Thanks to the list of mushrooming social organisation working for the conservation of the environment, we are now more aware about the various types of pollution and the effect on the society. But, how many of you really think that this pollution is present outside your doors, only?

For those of you who think staying indoor can save you from any form of pollution, let me share some insight on one of the lesser known yet equally harmful kind of pollution. I am talking about Household pollution.

Yes, you read that right! We humans are not safe from the clutches of this devil in disguise even when we sit comfortably at home.

To give you a better perspective on what I am referring to, let me site an excerpt from the WHO website.

There is consistent evidence that exposure to household air pollution can lead to acute lower respiratory infections in children under five, and ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer in adults. In 2012, household air pollution was responsible for 7.7% of the global mortality.

So what is this hullabaloo about Household pollution?

Well to make it simple, let’s put it this say way; several countries all over the world are fast moving to an age of urbanization blessed with bio gas connections, modular kitchens and designer homes but there are still people (almost three billion) worldwide who continue to depend on solid fuels, including biomass fuels (wood, dung, agricultural residues) and coal, for their energy needs.

Such inefficient cooking and heating practices produce high levels of household (indoor) air pollution which includes a range of health damaging pollutants such as fine particles and carbon monoxide.

Being an agricultural country, India has almost 70% of its total population dwelling in rural areas. And it’s not hard to picture a typical country side home with a rural stove or a chullah, as we call it, which using biomass cakes as cooking fuel.

The biomass cakes when burnt, produces smoke and numerous indoor air pollutants at concentrations five times higher than coal! Now, you can imagine the health risk it causes to people living in rural India.

But that’s not all..

Before the urban dwellers, rejoice for being free from biomass cakes, coal or wood as fuel consumption, let me divulge details of other indoor air pollutants.

I assume, all of us must have noticed some black- and dark-green slimy patches carrying a powerful musty odor below the kitchen sink that we so often pass over as nothing important.

Well, those slimy patches are called Stachybotrys chartarum, or black mold, a fungus that can produce toxins and has been linked to illness and severe allergies. And what causes that is a large amount of moisture in an area.

So, how can you deal with that? Simple. Regular use of kitchen exhaust ventilation systems can help control excess moisture in the home, hence reducing the risk of mold formation.

A good exhaust system is also very important in every household to cut the risk of other harmful toxins arising out of cooking fuels.

So, if you care about those lovely ladies, be it your mum, wife, sister, daughter or anybody for that matter who breathes in a kitchen to dish out delicious delicacies for you, you must assure they have proper ventilation.

And, can you avoid these contaminants in your daily life?

  • Detergents, furniture polish, camphor, paints, stain removers, and even cosmetics
  • Insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers that are used for maintaining one’s lawn and garden. Their entry into the house could occur through air movement or adsorption by shoes and toys, which are then brought inside the house
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Sources include paint strippers and other solvents, wood preservatives, air fresheners, automotive products. Even your dry cleaned clothing
  • Rug cleaners, and wet cell batteries
  • New flooring, basement remodeling, hanging new cabinets, removing asbestos sheets, scraping off old paint (which might contain lead), and the removal or application of wallpaper

The above list is long but not exhaustive and I am sure you know what that means. Indoor pollution surrounds us all, no matter which walk of life we come from.

Now, I don’t mean to scare you, but you must know some of the potential health effects of these indoor pollutants.

For e.g, furniture polishes which Irritates skin, eyes, throat, nose and lungs. Getting your house texture painted, consider this. Paints – irritates skin, eyes, nose and throat can even cause respiratory system damage. And what about the toilet bowl cleaner? That’s toxic in nature; burns skin; causes digestive and respiratory system damage. And do you know Air fresheners & deodorizers can irritates eyes, nose, throat, skin, and damage nervous, digestive & respiratory system

Adopt alternatives to avoid exposure and go green!

There’s plenty of green alternatives available for us that can helps us make our homes toxin free. Thanks to media, there’s been plenty of buzz about nature friendly products and I already see the sudden inclination of people of all ages towards ‘all things green’.

What I suggest personally, is that we should inform and encourage everyone specially people from lower income houses like your maid or the driver, to start using proper gas connections, ventilation system and other natural options to save their lives from the risk of toxins and other carcinogenic chemicals.


Comments for “Household Pollution – The Killer behind your doors!”

  1. Reply

    Thanks for the insights about indoor pollution and causes of it.

    Pawan,

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