Air pollution continues to be a growing concern, impacting us in various ways. Recent findings from the 2023 Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute, reveal that fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) is projected to reduce the life expectancy of the average Indian by 5.3 years. In Delhi, often termed the world’s most polluted city, this reduction can be as high as 11.9 years compared to World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
Notably, indoor air quality can be up to five times worse than outdoor air. With an increasing amount of time spent indoors, the quality of the air we breathe becoming an increasingly common concern, given its potential to cause various short- and long-term health issues. While discussions on air pollution frequently centre on outdoor environments, it is crucial to recognise its impact on our indoor spaces and take proactive measures to safeguard our well-being.
It is likely that your home is already full of indoor air pollution sources and contaminants. The best way to start afresh is with a thorough deep clean. Begin with the basics like vacuuming carpets and hard floors, mopping where possible, and dusting easily accessible surfaces.
Upholstered surfaces like mattresses, bedding, sofas, as well as curtains and other cloth accents are commonly overlooked but can be loaded with contaminants. Launder what is possible and take a vacuum and attachments to larger, permanent surfaces. The mini-motorised tool is compatible with a range of Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners and is ideal for deep cleaning couch cushions, mattresses and pillows.
Remember to clean underneath and behind furniture as dust can accumulate in these spaces as well. If you have got the time, it is helpful to remove items from shelves and other decorative objects and clean those as well.
Keep outdoor pollutants... outdoors
Many common indoor air pollutants can be attributed to outdoor sources. These include allergens like pollen and mold spores that can travel through the air. The best way to eliminate them is by not letting them in to begin with. Properly sealing doors and windows will not only help create a barrier between these outdoor pollutants and your home’s interior, but it can help regulate temperature and humidity. Home supply stores sell inexpensive solutions for sealing cracks and gaps in window and door frames.
Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to capture allergens like pollen, dust mites, and mold spores
Control indoor humidity and temperature
Mold and bacteria love warm, dark, damp environments. And if you provide one for them, they will happily occupy your home. While it is ideal to strategise for proper humidity and temperature control during the planning and construction phases when building a new home, there are many ways to improve your home’s existing environment to limit mold and bacteria growth.
Like we mentioned earlier, sealing doors and windows not only helps keep out many common pollutants, but it can also help maintain your preferred heat and humidity levels. While you will want to have some sort of ventilation in spaces that can become wet, like bathrooms, the kitchen, and the basement, a properly sealed living space is ideal.
A breath of fresh air
With all the ways we have discussed to control indoor air quality and eliminate indoor air pollution sources, the most common-sense solution can sometimes be to simply open your windows. Fresh air can help remove existing pollutants and circulate uncontaminated air throughout your home. Improving ventilation in bathrooms and the kitchen using an exhaust fan can also be helpful.
From the simple act of opening windows to welcome fresh breezes to the introduction of air-purifying indoor plants and the implementation of meticulous cleaning routines, we delve into these strategies, intertwining them with the urgency and of the air quality challenges we face. Each step we take, each action we commit to, contributes to the greater cause of ensuring that our indoor spaces remain sanctuaries of clean, revitalizing air — a promise of improved health, longevity, and enhanced well-being.
Purify your air
Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to capture allergens like pollen, dust mites, and mold spores. Place them in commonly used areas or bedrooms to improve indoor air quality.
Air purifiers can be helpful in reducing the allergens present in indoor air, including mold spores and other airborne particles. They work by filtering the air and trapping these allergens, improving the overall air quality. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are often recommended for capturing small particles, such as mold spores. Air purifiers typically feature a multi-stage filtration system, which includes a HEPA filter that captures small particles such as allergens, dust, and mold spores.
Muzaffar Izamuddin is an engineer from Dyson’s environmental care department