With the onset of festivals, the country should be submerged in happiness and joy but the national capital and nearby cities were wrapped in a blanket of smog. Parents locked their kids inside homes to protect them from the horrendous effects of air pollution. The air inside homes is visibly clear and hence, the parents believe that it is clean. However, there is a stark difference in visibly clean and actually clean air.
Here are few facts about the myths we all have about air pollution:
Myth 1: Air outdoors is more polluted than indoors
Fact: Air pollution – both ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor) is hazardous. But, according to a recent study, WHO has established that indoor air pollution is a bigger threat to our health than outdoor air pollution. Most urban cities have homes and buildings in a closed structure with restricted flow of fresh air, thus resulting in poor indoor air quality. The organic compounds in indoor air are 2-5 times higher than that found in outdoor air.
Hence, try to avoid aroma candles, oils and fresheners at home. Instead use exhaust fans to enhance ventilation and on bright sunny days, keep the windows open. Also don’t use feather dusters to dust the fans and remove deposited dust. It dissipates the dust in air and we in turn inhale it. Instead use a wet cloth to wipe off the dust and then use another cloth to wipe the surface clean. Always keep the shoes and doormat outside home to keep the dirt from shoes outside. Get the leaking taps repaired because they develop molds.
Myth 2: Kids have to go to schools and classes and are exposed to outdoor air pollution, then why think of indoor air quality?
Fact: I have seen people investing huge amounts in masks alone. While it is important, it is also important to keep the indoor air clean and fresh because most urban populations spends 80-90% of their time indoors in home and schools. Hence, it is more important to give them a good air quality when they are home. Also make sure a sound and healthy sleep of 8-10 hours for your child without exposing them to particulate matter, dust and pollutants. When we sleep our breathing function is elevated, and it is of paramount importance to take care of indoor pollution while we sleep.
Myth 3: Inhaling polluted air from the beginning will make the kids immune to it
Fact: The lungs and immune system of kids are in developmental stage. They are more vulnerable to air pollution and inhaling toxins than adults and have an increased risk of pulmonary exposure to particulate matters. This hampers the growth of lungs and brain in long-term. Hence, inhaling the polluted air does more harm. And, I don’t see any good in it. There is enough data to support this with the cases of breathing ailments in new born and toddlers in metros going up at an alarming rate.
Myth 4: Growing indoor plants acts as a natural air purifier.
Fact: These days there are a lot of people who are growing aloe vera, snake plant, areca palms etc to fight indoor pollution. But the fact is that most of the hazardous indoor pollution is caused by particulate matter (PM). Sadly, plants don’t have any filtration system for the polluting particulate matter. They just support in eliminating Volatile Organic Compounds from the air by a process called phytoremediation. Also, their efficiency varies from 0.9-75%in a room depending upon the surface area of the leaf and the surface area of the room. Researchers suggest that one should plant an indoor plant for every 1.8sq meters to remove just 1% of ozone from a room. An air purifier solves this purpose of filtering particulate matter and VOCs.
Myth 5: Switch on the air purifier when at home and switch them off while leaving the home
Fact : I have seen a lot of people who switch off the air purifier while leaving for office and turn it on after coming back. Most of the times, people forget to turn on the air purifier immediately after entering the home. By the time, they switch it on and the air gets clean, they wake up and leave for work and school. Hence, leave the purifier on 24×7, on a lower fan speed, to have a good air quality at home and have a good sound sleep.
These days it is important to fight air pollution, both indoors and outdoors. For outdoor air pollution, we need policy changes in stubble burning and fuel management. Also, we need to make a few lifestyle changes to curb it. For indoor air pollution invest in a good air purifier. Honeywell has one of the largest range of IMAPH approved air purifiers for Indian households.
To save your child from the implications of air pollution, adopt the following steps.
- Good diet: Include tulsi, garlic, turmeric, honey, ginger, jaggery and citrus foods in diet to help reduce inflammation and fight infections.
- Hydrated: Stay well hydrated to loosen a cough and release the toxins inhaled easily.
- Breathing exercises: Make your child do some breathing exercises.
- Imagine smelling a flower and take a deep breath from the nose and exhale from the mouth.
- Inhale deep and then exhale making a hissing sound.
- Sniffing 3-4 times at short intervals
Following these step will help you to eliminate the pollutants from the lungs of your kids and clear their airways.