Indoor air pollution is the deteriorating of indoor air quality brought on by dangerous chemicals and other pollutants. The main cause is the use of heating and cooking techniques that include the incomplete combustion of biomass fuels including wood, charcoal, dung, and agricultural waste in enclosed spaces. Millions of people, mainly women and children, face grave health risks. Around 3 billion people globally who reside in developing countries are impacted by this problem. The World Health Organization (WHO)
estimates that cooking-related indoor air pollution kills 3.8 million people annually. The Global Burden of Disease report states that indoor air pollution caused 1.6 million fatalities in 2017.
What Is Indoor Air Contaminated?
• "Indoor air pollution" is the phrase used to describe the dirt, dust, and gases that enter structures and taint the air there.
• It describes the air's physical, chemical, and biological characteristics inside a building that is either a home, an institution, or a business.
• In locations where energy efficiency gains render homes relatively airtight, lowering ventilation and raising pollutant levels, indoor air pollution is a concern.
• Issues with indoor air quality might be subtle and not necessarily have noticeable effects on health.
• In both rural and urban locations, a number of variables contribute to indoor air pollution.
• Up to ten times more people can die from indoor air pollution than from outdoor air pollution.
• This is because closed spaces, as opposed to open ones, stimulate the accumulation of potential contaminants more.
• Indoor air has been found to include a variety of air pollutants, including NOx, SO2, ozone (O3), CO, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs), PM, radon, and microbes.
• These pollutants, including NOx, SO2, O3, and PM, can enter from the outside and exist both indoors and outdoors.
• These airborne pollutants could be organic, inorganic, radioactive, or even biological.
• Indoor air pollution, also referred to as "household air pollution," is a serious health risk in underdeveloped countries.
Types Of Indoor Air Pollution
• Interior pollution is most of a problem in rural areas where households still use traditional fuels like firewood, charcoal, and cow dung for cooking and heating.
• Due to the amount of smoke and other air pollutants that are released when these fuels are burned, an excessive amount of exposure develops.
• Women and children are the ones most at danger because of their longer amounts of time spent indoors and exposure to smoke.
• Formaldehyde, polycyclic organic matter, carbon monoxide, and particulates are the four most harmful contaminants discovered in the smoke from biofuels, while many hundreds of other chemical agents have also been identified.
In metropolitan regions, exposure to indoor air pollution has increased for a variety of reasons, including:
• Buildings are being built with tighter seals; ventilation is being reduced; synthetic materials are being used for construction and furnishings; and chemical goods, pesticides, and household care products are being used.
• Both internal and external sources of indoor air pollution are possible.
• Lead, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide are not the only contaminants that have an effect on air quality.
Effects And Causes
VOCs, or volatile organic compounds
• The gases that are generated as a result of particular solids or liquids are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
• VOCs are made up of a variety of chemical compounds, some of which may be harmful to one's short- and long-term health.
• Perfumes, hairsprays, furniture polish, glues, air fresheners, moth repellents, and other products are the main suppliers of volatile organic compounds.
• They cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, and irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat.
• Exposure to volatile organic chemicals over an extended period of time may cause harm to the liver and other organs.
• Smoke from tobacco products is carcinogenic and produces a number of hazardous substances.
• Possible adverse effects include decreased lung function, cancer, bronchitis, severe asthma, and burning eyes, nose, and throat discomfort.
• The term "secondhand smoke" refers to tobacco smoke that affects people who are not "active" smokers.
• There are gaseous and particle components to secondhand smoke, with levels of carbon monoxide and extremely small particulates (fine specific matter at especially PM2.5 size and PM10) providing considerable health concerns.
• They enter the bronchioles and alveoli of the lung. The only surefire strategy to improve the indoor air quality in terms of secondhand smoke is to ban indoor smoking.
• The amount of particulate matter in the air is also increased by e-cigarette use indoors.
• Cooking and heating indoors contribute significantly to indoor air pollution, which is connected to major health impacts and early mortality.
• Fuel combustion of hydrocarbons causes air pollution. Different types of fossil fuels, including biomass, can cause pollution, but certain fuels are more harmful than others.
• The emissions that could be produced by an indoor fire include black carbon particles, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, and mercury compounds, to name just a few.
• An estimated 3 billion individuals cook their food over open flames or with simple cook burners.
• Some bacteria, fungus, parasites, pet fur, mites, and plant pollen are examples of biological pollution.
• Most of them can cause hay fever, asthma, and other allergic diseases since they are allergens.
• Radon, an invisible and radioactive gas, is created when radium undergoes radioactive decay.
• They can be found in particular types of construction materials or in the geological formations that are found beneath buildings.
• Radon, the most frequent primary indoor air hazard, is probably to blame for tens of thousands of lung cancer fatalities each year.
• Radon tends to accumulate at the lowest level since it is a heavy gas that penetrates buildings as a soil gas.
• In addition, drinking water, particularly that from bathroom showers, might allow radon to infiltrate a building.
• One of the most dangerous indoor air pollutants is carbon monoxide (CO).
• It is a colourless, odourless gas that is a byproduct of incomplete combustion.
• Carbon monoxide is typically produced by combustion of tobacco, fossil fuel-powered space heaters, broken central heating furnaces, and automobile exhaust.
• Because carbon monoxide deprives the brain of oxygen, it can cause nausea, unconsciousness, and even death.
• In addition to some floor tiles, ceiling tiles, shingles, fireproofing, heating systems, pipe wrap, taping muds, mastics and other insulation compounds, many common building goods used in construction before 1975 include asbestos.
• Large emissions of asbestos fiber normally don't occur unless the construction materials are disturbed, such as by cutting, sanding, drilling, or renovating the building.
• It's not always a good idea to remove items that contain asbestos because asbestos fibers might be released into the air during the removal procedure.
• When asbestos-containing material is damaged or disintegrates, minute fibers are released into the air.
• Long-term exposure to asbestos fibers is associated with a higher risk of lung cancer, particularly the mesothelioma-specific subtype.
• The main sources of formaldehyde are insulating foam, particle boards, and carpets.
• It affects the eyes and nose in addition to causing allergies.
Measuring Pollution Standards
• The "Air Quality Index" and other air quality indicators are used to measure air quality. The two most often used air quality measures are PM 2.5 and PM 10.
• Per cubic meter, the particles are measured in micrograms.
• A concentration of microscopic particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns is referred to as PM 2.5, while a concentration of particles with a diameter of less than 10 microns is referred to as PM 10.
• Lead and ammonia are two more contaminants that India tracks. On the AQI scale, a value of 50 or less is considered safe.
• Air quality is measured with the PCE-RCM 05, PCE-HFX 100, and PCE-RCM 8 instruments.
• Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are used in complicated chemical reactions that produce the majority of the particles.
• These pollutants are released by companies, power plants, automobiles, and other sources.
Control Measures For Indoor Air Pollution
• One of the most important steps in the control of indoor air pollution is increasing people's awareness of the issue and the serious damage it poses to their health and welfare.
• With the use of education, people should learn about various strategies for reducing exposures through improved kitchen management and at-home child safety.
• Furthermore, the public should be made aware of the use of alternative, cleaner energy sources as a workable substitute for the direct combustion of biomass fuel.
• The stakeholders must involve not only members of the general public but also legislators and administrators in order to ensure their commitment and increase their understanding of the detrimental effects of indoor air pollution on health.
Change in Fuel Use Pattern
• Habit, accessibility, and most important of all, affordability all have an impact on fuel usage.
• The majority of low-income families now solely employ direct combustion of biomass fuels for their cooking needs because it is the most affordable and straightforward alternative available to them.
• Encouragement of the use of cleaner energy sources, such as gobar gas, which uses cow dung to produce gas for cooking, could alter this situation.
Design Changes to Cooking Stoves
• Traditional cooking stoves with leaks and smoke emissions should be swapped out for more energy-efficient models with no smoke emissions and a chimney-like vent for interior pollution.
• The stove created by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy's National Biomass Cook stoves Initiative as part of a Special Project on Cook stoves from 2009 to 2010 is a great example.
• The primary goal is to increase the countries poorer and energy-insecure regions' access to clean, efficient electricity.
• When creating a house, proper ventilation should be a top priority; for homes with poor ventilation, solutions such a window over the stove and cross ventilation through doors should be used.
Global Initiative and Sectoral Coordination
• If indoor air pollution is to be decreased, cross-sector collaboration and international action are necessary.
• The fields of housing, rural development, energy, health, and ecology must all contribute to these efforts.
Initiatives Relating To Indoor Air Pollution
• Ujjwala Yojana Pradhan Mantri: The Petroleum Ministry's Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), which is a component of Swatch Bharat Abhiyaan, connects BPL households to LPG.
• Scientists have developed a sensor based on graphene that can detect indoor air pollution.
• The ground-breaking multi-fuel stove "Neerdhur" has been developed by the National Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) for household usage.
• Indoor air filters are comprised of HEPA (High Energy Particulate Arrestor) filters, which are high energy particle accumulators. They only apply to particle matter, though.
• The CSIR-NEERI is the manufacturer of the WAYU (Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit). It has filters to remove particulate matter in addition to UV lamps and activated carbon (charcoal) for removing hazardous gases.
• SDG 7: SDG 7 aims to make sure that everyone has access to reliable, cost-effective, sustainable, and modern energy.
More research is still needed to ascertain the extent of exposure to indoor pollution and to support the association between indoor pollutants and diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, cataract, asthma, and cardiovascular disease, even though there is evidence that indoor air pollution is on the rise in India and that it is linked to higher rates of morbidity and mortality. A committed and resolute intersectoral partnership to promote public health is also urgently needed, in addition to effective interventions such as education, changing fuel usage habits, building homes and stoves correctly, and so on.