Our environment began changing rapidly especially after the inception of the industrial revolution. The air in which we breathe all the time is becoming heavier with pollution and dust. The level of air pollution in metropolitan areas like Dhaka is increasing at an alarming rate. But even in the light of all this, with just a little effort and awareness we can at least keep our indoor air clean. There are many ways to keep the air clean inside a house. But before diving in, it is important to know what exactly it is we mean by purifying the air inside the house and why it is important.
Purifying the air inside the house: what it is and why it is important
Research institutes measure air purity by analyzing the levels of dust, ground-level ozone gas, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc. in the air. The British Lung Foundation says that “Air pollution is caused by an excessive presence of dust, dirt and harmful gases in the air”. Harmful gases emitted mainly from stoves, heaters or electronics, cigarette smoke, presence of harmful fungi in accumulated dirt, and some harmful volatile compounds used in air fresheners-paints-preservatives are the prime cause of air pollution in a home.
However, if air in the house is polluted, it is not always possible to detect it through our basic senses. For example, you can detect an abnormality if the amount of dust in the air increases inside your house, but the amount or concentration of carbon monoxide cannot be understood by just our base vision of sense of smell. The British Lung Foundation also says, “Just like an invisible enemy, neither are these small particles of dust, garbage or harmful gases that cause air pollution visible to the naked eye nor do they emit any odor. But these are the prime causes of all kinds of deadly diseases.”
According to the world-renowned Lancet Journal’s ‘Global Burden of Disease’ report, indoor air pollution causes about 1.8 million premature deaths worldwide each year. Not only that, but the contaminants present in indoor air are also the prime causes of various respiratory diseases including pneumonia.
In most developed countries, various types of institutional services are offered or taken to measure the purity of the air inside the house. Although no such system has been introduced in our country yet, you can do it yourself. Purifying the air inside the house is especially important when you have patients with allergies and respiratory diseases, children, and the elderly in the family.
Ways to keep air clean in the house
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, dust, dirt, and harmful gases are the causes of indoor air pollution. In other words, if you want to keep the air clean inside the house, you have to make sure that these three things do not accumulate. That being said, here is how you can prevent it.
How to remove dust
Cleanliness is very important when it comes to keeping air clean inside your house. Make sure the house is dust-free. We have an excellent article on how to keep your home dust-free. Go check that out if you need any help regarding the issue. Vacuum cleaners are very useful for dust cleaning. Because no matter where the dust accumulates (curtains, carpets, furniture, or floor), it can pull it out. According to experts, it is better to use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters because along with cleaning dust, they are good at capturing spores, pollen and mites.
Clean with water
Despite the advantages of vacuum cleaners, they are not very common in our country. Since sweeping the floor is still the most common way to go, it might be better to clean the house with plain water than to clean with commercial cleaners with harmful chemicals. This is because of the chlorine-bleach compound that most commercial cleaners have in their solutions mix with regular air to form methyl chloroform which is very harmful. Also, ethylbenzene, camphene, formaldehyde, etc. used in glass cleaners and floor cleaners are harmful to our respiratory system. Sometimes the use of different types of chemical disinfectants such as bleach and ammonia-based cleaners together can also produce toxic gases like chloramine, ammonia, and hypochlorous acid.
The use of floor mats or a doormat outside the door can greatly decrease dust when entering the house. It is recommended to use large mats outside the main door. Because that way, even if someone enters the house without wiping his feet, he is more likely to leave dust on the big mat.
Cleaning dust from furniture
Dust accumulation in furniture is a common thing. That is why it is really important to routinely clean your furniture especially if the house is located on the side of the main road. Use dusters or clean towels if you don’t have a vacuum cleaner at home.
Keep pet house clean
Those who have pets in their homes should clean the pet house regularly. Animal hair can often pollute the air inside your home. So be sure to keep that in check.
How to get rid of dirt
Throw the garbage at a certain place
One of the most effective ways to keep the air inside the house clean is to prevent dirt from accumulating. For this, it is necessary to keep garbage at certain places. Keep a dustbin in the corner of every room. Also, keep dirt baskets in bathrooms and kitchens as harmful germs from perishable foods, used tissues, etc. can get into the air we breathe. Not only do you have to put these in the garbage bin, you also have to clean the bins themselves regularly to prevent producing the toxic gas.
Clean your garden
For those with lawns or gardens, it is important to clear out weeds and dry leaves regularly.
In order to purify the air inside the house, you have to pay attention to all these things.
Ways to get rid of harmful gases
Pay attention to ventilation. In other words, there should be a system to exhaust polluted air from the house. This is why the usage of exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms are important. Keeping windows large is also great for ventilation. Another way of purifying the air inside the house is to use a kitchen hood. The kitchen hood absorbs carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other harmful chemicals and gases produced from the cooking stove and ensures the emission of more eco-friendly fumes.
According to the World Health Organization, about 3 billion people around the world use coal, kerosene, wood, dry waste, etc. as fuel for cooking. Various harmful gases mixed with the smoke from these play a major role in polluting the air inside a home. So make sure to use more eco-friendly cooking fuels.
Use low VOC product
Another way to clean air is not to use, or at least to reduce, the use of aerosols, air fresheners, etc. Experts are emphasizing on the use of low VOC (Volatile Organic Chemical) products that emit volatile harmful chemicals into the air. This is because aerosols, deodorants, perfumes, air fresheners, and cleaners that we use every day emit a lot of harmful gases including chlorofluorocarbons (or CFC), formaldehyde, and so on. In this case, air fresheners and cleaners made with natural ingredients can be a healthy alternative. For example, cleaning the kitchen with a mixture of lemon and baking soda can be an environmentally friendly solution. However, those who do not have enough time to prepare these at home, they can use milder cleaners or artificially scented air fresheners made with relatively less harmful ingredients.
Paint of your house
Avoid lead-based paints on the walls, windows, and door frames. Lead is highly useful in many scenarios, but can cause kidney diseases and damage the nervous system. Lead-mixed air is very dangerous for babies and pregnant women because it hinders the growth of babies. Governments in various countries have banned lead-based paints and are advising to choose titanium or zinc-based paint.
The use of indoor plants like aloe vera, snake-plants, rubber trees, etc. is one of the most cost-effective ways to clean air. These plants can purify the air by absorbing harmful gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air.
Humidity control is another important thing to look into when purifying the air inside the house. This is because damp indoor spores, molds, and mites produce a variety of allergens that can cause asthma and respiratory distress and diseases. In addition with an increase of humidity in the house, more chemical gases from rexine floors, carpets, and wallpaper can be released into the air and can lead to bacterial growth. There are some excellent tips you can follow to control humidity. For example, clean the water in the AC tray regularly to ensure that there is no leakage. Also, do not let the water accumulate in an indoor plant pot.
As you can see, purifying the air inside the house is not a difficult or complicated task. You just have to be careful and aware of certain things. However, reality is quite shocking as we have yet to begin thinking about this issue. After all, the effort and awareness that we just discussed is everything to do with our perception. But it’s never too late. Let’s start the habit of keeping the air in the house clean by following these easy steps. A little awareness and some change can ensure the well-being of you and your family.