Beware of the Devastating Effects of Indoor Air Pollution.

The scar­ing phe­nom­e­non of world­wide air pol­lu­tion and glob­al warm­ing have been so wide­ly medi­a­tized dur­ing the past decades, at such extent that there is a glob­al aware­ness about the prob­lem; even though opin­ions about it still diverge.

How­ev­er, in South Africa, like in oth­er parts of the world; most peo­ple think – wrong­ly – that air pol­lu­tion is no longer a con­cern for them when they get inside their hous­es, and few peo­ple real­ly know the exis­tence of indoor air pol­lu­tion and its far more dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences.   

But, first, what does the indoor pollution means and why is it so dangerous?  


As its name sug­gests, the indoor air pol­lu­tion des­ig­nates the expo­si­tion to a pol­lut­ed inte­ri­or air, which is con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed by tox­ins from var­i­ous ori­gins with­in the inner parts of enclosed build­ings or spaces such as res­i­den­tial hous­es, schools, offices, hos­pi­tals; as well as vehi­cles or oth­er means of trans­port.

It is obvi­ous that peo­ple liv­ing in cities (espe­cial­ly inside town­ships) and some rur­al areas are most exposed to the dev­as­tat­ing effects of indoor air pol­lu­tion; as 80% of them spend their lifes­pan inside these inte­ri­ors. Con­cern­ing res­i­den­tial hous­es, 50% of aver­age peo­ple spend their life­time inside their habi­tat.

Why is it the indoor pollution so dangerous and alarming?

Indoor air pol­lu­tion is almost unstop­pable. In fact, par­ti­cles that pol­lutes the indoor air derivate from vital ele­ments such as the mate­r­i­al con­sti­tut­ing the build­ings (fibro-cement or even nor­mal cement, paints, fur­ni­ture…); as well as from the human activ­i­ty (smokes from cook­ing, smok­ing, usage of cos­met­ics espe­cial­ly these in spray form…) or even from the nor­mal bio­log­i­cal human process (car­bon diox­ide elim­i­na­tion and volatile metabo­lites.

On the oth­er hand, build­ings of any kind and espe­cial­ly build­ings are not her­met­i­cal­ly closed; and end exter­nal pol­lu­tion ends up reach­ing peo­ple inside their hous­es; hence­for­ward adding to the already exist­ing indoor air pol­lu­tion; espe­cial­ly in places where there are many indus­tries or car traf­fic (think cities) or coal pow­er plants (think Mpumalan­ga that has been recent­ly declared the most pol­lut­ed place in the world).

In that regards, many experts declare that indoor air is far more dan­ger­ous as many pol­lu­tants that are found out­side are also found indoor; although there are some pol­lu­tants that are only found indoors. Indeed, most experts esti­mate indoor air pol­lu­tion is 5 to 10; even 15 times the out­er pol­lu­tion.

What is the burden of the indoor air pollution on South Africa’s public health sector?

Before talk­ing about the par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion of South Africa, let us recall that in a report released by the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion in 2012, it had already been high­light­ed that deaths relat­ed to air pol­lu­tion reached 7 mil­lion per year world­wide. Amongst these deaths, 4.3 mil­lion were caused by the sole indoor air pol­lu­tion! And in France alone, indoor air pol­lu­tion was expect­ed to kill 20,000 more peo­ple each upcom­ing year if noth­ing spe­cial were done.

In South Africa, fig­ures are sim­i­lar­ly daunt­ing: back in 2007, Rosana Nor­man revealed in the SA Med­ical Jour­nal that around 20% of South African house­holds suf­fer the health effects of expo­sure to the indoor air pol­lu­tion.

Among seri­ous dis­eases that are caused or wors­ened by inhal­ing pol­lut­ed indoor air, include (not lim­it­ed to): lung dis­ease, can­cer, tuber­cu­lo­sis, cataracts, and oth­er res­pi­ra­to­ry infec­tions. Par­tic­u­lar­ly, house­hold air pol­lu­tion caus­es acute low­er res­pi­ra­to­ry tract infec­tion, which ranks among the top killers of chil­dren under five in South Africa, elim­i­nat­ing the lives of 1 400 chil­dren per year.

In rur­al areas and under­priv­i­leged urban areas, chil­dren are more dan­ger­ous­ly affect­ed by indoor air pol­lu­tion because their bod­ies are not ful­ly devel­oped; and yet they spend hours next to their moth­ers while they are cook­ing. Like­wise, poor women are par­tic­u­lar vic­tims, because they spend most of their time in the fire­place breath­ing tox­ic smokes.

Final­ly yet impor­tant­ly, pol­lut­ed indoor per­pet­u­ates the pover­ty snare. Indeed, poor peo­ple can’t afford elec­tric­i­ty, effi­cient stoves or low-smoke fuels. Con­se­quent­ly, they spend quite a lot of hours per day col­lect­ing fire­wood; fac­ing var­i­ous dan­gers in forests and return to be exposed to tox­ic fumes from burn­ing fire­wood.  Many become ill soon or lat­er, and this dis­turbs their pro­duc­tiv­i­ty at work, at school or in their house­holds. There­fore, a vicious cycle is cre­at­ed in that poor health and pover­ty caus­es fur­ther poor health and pover­ty.

How can we alleviate sensibly the effects of indoor air pollution?

Thanks to the increas­ing aware­ness towards indoor air pol­lu­tion, var­i­ous more or less real­is­tic solu­tions have pre­sent­ed to tack­le the prob­lem; most experts unan­i­mous­ly agree­ing that there is no sin­gle once-off mirac­u­lous solu­tion due to the pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned rea­sons, but rather per­ma­nent strate­gies to reduce dras­ti­cal­ly the indoor air pol­lu­tion. Here­after, we give a list of the most com­mon­ly pro­posed solu­tions:

    • Use pol­ish­es and hair sprays in well-ven­ti­lat­ed areas


    • Make sure your gas stove is well ven­ti­lat­ed.


    • Install exhaust hoods or fans in the kitchen and bath­room to reduce humid­i­ty.


    • Ensure that the entire house, office or the car is prop­er­ly ven­ti­lat­ed.


    • Avoid smok­ing indoors


    • Get rid of odors; don’t mask them.


    • Man­age crit­ters. 9. Clean­ing and dust­ing should be thor­ough.


    • Min­i­mize clut­ter.


    • Remove car­pet­ing if pos­si­ble.


    • Make home­made clean­ers.  13. Remove shoes at the door.


    • Min­i­mize the use of air fresh­en­ers.


    • Keep trash cov­ered.


    • Reduce indoor chem­i­cal use.


    • Have car emis­sions test­ed reg­u­lar­ly.


    • Test your home for radon.


    • Fix water leaks.


    • Use car­bon monox­ide detec­tors.


    • Open the win­dows.


    • Wash bed­ding week­ly in hot water.


    • Get rid of the scent­ed and com­mer­cial­ly made can­dles.


    • Use more advanced fur­nace fil­ters.


    • Wise­ly choose air puri­fiers.


  • Imple­ment the use of house­plants to nat­u­ral­ly puri­fy indoor air.

Some of the above-list­ed strate­gies are inspired by com­mon sense; oth­ers are backed by research­es results. If you want to learn more about these strate­gies, please read this full arti­cle by click­ing here.

How­ev­er, as or us; we sin­cere­ly think that the use of good air puri­fi­er grants the most secure and effi­cient strat­e­gy of reduc­ing dras­ti­cal­ly indoor air pol­lu­tion. Indeed, there are abun­dant air puri­fiers out there. Nev­er­the­less, choos­ing the qual­i­ty one is a para­mount key to get improved indoor air val­ue. Actu­al­ly, the best qual­i­ty air puri­fiers are able to remove up to 99% of air­borne par­ti­cles.

This small device is an air puri­fi­er. It fix­es most of the harm­ful air­borne par­ti­cles that are pol­lut­ing indoor air. Hav­ing it inside your house will help you to breathe non-pol­lut­ed air. 

Before we even get com­ments about this arti­cle, we eas­i­ly fore­see rea­sons that peo­ple will advance in order to explain why air puri­fiers are not com­mon­ly seen in our house­holds; although we can find in most  house­holds quite expen­sive devices such as big flat TV, fridges, ovens, 4 and + plates stoves, expen­sive smart­phones…

These are the rea­sons peo­ple may advance:

  • Air puri­fiers are expen­sive;
  • These things of indoor air pol­lu­tions are fun­ny things that are brought by media and sci­en­tists to make scoops – after all, if it was a prob­lem no one could sur­vive, peo­ple have always been liv­ing inside their hous­es…
  • There so many oth­er dan­gers I should be wor­ried about…

Peo­ple who think that way may be under­stand­able. Not every­one is aware of these out­stand­ing dan­gers relat­ed to the indoor air pol­lu­tion; and it is not per haz­ard that that indoor air pol­lu­tion has been labeled as a silent killer. We have to reread the scar­ing sta­tis­tics con­tained in var­i­ous reports to be con­vinced.

Even if qual­i­ty air puri­fies cost more, they are worth every rand because they con­sti­tute the most real­is­tic and effi­cient solu­tion; not to men­tion that they can be com­bined with oth­er strate­gies in order to get bet­ter and improved indoor air qual­i­ty.

We pro­found­ly believe that such a device priced start­ing at R 600 is worth buy­ing if we con­sid­er its abil­i­ty to pre­vent dead­ly dis­eases that may arise from a long­stand­ing expo­si­tion to dan­ger­ous indoor air pol­lu­tion; that poten­tial silent killer that you can’t see n0r smell; but is there dam­ag­ing your health.

As a tech com­pa­ny, we promise to do an exclu­sive inven­to­ry of qual­i­ty air puri­fiers that are avail­able in South Africa, their prices and their com­par­a­tive advan­tages. Just stay tuned and read our next arti­cles. 

Breathe clean air and stay Health­i­er.


READ  Welcome To The First Issue Of Our Newsletter.

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