Molly Milson is a blogger based in Sydney, Australia. She is a student of Interior Design and writer for Smooth Decorator. In this piece, she looks into the ‘modern plague’ of air pollution and comes up with some ideas for how we can clean up the air inside properties.
Needless to say, breathing is an essential part of life. Of course, we do not have to think about breathing in and out, but what we should think about is the quality of the air that goes into our lungs. Alas, this component is often taken for granted, which is a grave mistake since it ranks among the most influential factors for our health. It is one of the most important environmental risks that demands our utmost attention and calls for a proactive approach.
A modern plague
One of the main problems is that pollutants elude our senses and can be pretty hard to detect. Their stealthy presence has a detrimental effect on our health and well-being. It is estimated that around 7 million premature deaths occur as a result of air pollution. What is more, air pollution aggravates conditions such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease, stroke, and cancer. The sources of air pollution are both big, stationary facilities like factories and small appliances such as dry cleaners.
The nasty bunch
Experts argue that the levels of pollution are directly linked to the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population. The symptoms of over-exposure are tiredness, dizziness, and headaches. In high concentrations, pollutants can even be fatal. Carbon monoxide is one of the greatest menaces that lurk in the ambient air. It is released when engines, mostly present in cars, burn fossil fuel. Other major pollutants we need to keep track of are led, particulate matter, asbestos, arsenic, benzene, methane, and sulfur dioxide.
The situation is most alarming in countries like India and Pakistan, but the problem is global in both its scale and its nature. Believe it or not, 92% of world population lives in places where WHO air quality guidelines are not met. To find out the air quality in your area, you can utilize online resources such as real-time index visual maps. Oh, and note that surgical masks, although they have become a common sight in many cities across the globe, are rather useless, as the air tends to leak around the sides. There are better ways to stay out of harm’s way.
Preoccupied with images of fumes rising into the air from numerous factories, many people overlook the aspect of indoor air quality. Still, the studies have identified that the pollution indoors can be several times worse than outdoors. First off, substances like asbestos, benzene, and led are found in insulation, glue, wax, and paint. Furthermore, our own daily actions and activities (like cooking, for example) can lead to major spikes in indoor air pollution. Smoking, for instance, is the bane of good health’s existence as it releases benzene, cyanide, ammonia, carbon monoxide, methanol, and other pollutants.
To make it worse, replenishing your indoor air with the polluted one from the outside is not such a great idea. That is why we should identify how big the problem is with domestic air quality monitors and smart sensors, and then filter the air. The good news is that today’s cutting edge technology and apps provide a breakdown of particulates, VOCs, and CO2. It is also highly advisable to take advantage of air purifiers that come in all shapes and sizes. They reduce the number of harmful particles and toxins significantly and make a real difference in terms of health.
Doing a good turn
Still, we cannot hope to tackle the outdoor air quality as mere individuals. We depend on policies and investments in green housing, cleaner transportation, municipal waste management, better power generation, etc. Solutions like green walls show a lot of promise, even more so than trees in heavily trafficked areas and pollution hotspots. Then again, we also have to address the root of the problem and mitigate the defiling influence of sources like coal and biomass energy systems, agroforestry processes, and agricultural waste incarnation.
In the clear
Air pollution is a global plight of our time. It looms over us as the deadliest form of pollution there is. Namely, when consistent, everyday exposure stretches over a lifetime, the effects are dire, to say the least. Steering away from air pollutants is tricky, and locking yourself inside may only add fuel to the fire. But, while we wait for policymakers, industry leaders, and environmental agencies around the globe to step up, we can at least take action to ensure that our indoor climate is cleansed and purified.