Indoor Air Pollution | Environmental Chemistry

Indoor Air Pollution

What is the Indoor Air Pollution?

Indoor air pollution can be simply defined as the pollution at home or work place. There are number of sources at our home or working place that can induce the process of air pollution.

Sources of indoor air pollution.

  • Indoor cooking using fire wood.
  • Cigarette smoke.
  • Incense sticks stick and mosquito coil.
  • Gases like radon.
  • Urea formaldehyde used in furniture.
  • House hold pesticides.

Indoor cooking.

The major form of indoor air pollution is the smoke generated due to indoor cooking using fire wood in the kitchen. This situation is found mainly in rural households in congested kitchens. Indoor cooking using fire wood is quite unhealthy since it can cause adverse effects on human health. This process generates large number of carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons, peroxyacynitrates, carbon monoxide and particles that can effect badly on human health and also on the environment. These compounds can cause symptoms like headaches, eye irritation and longtime exposure to these pollutants can cause cancers, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia and other pulmonary diseases. So indoor cooking using fire wood is very unhealthy especially when it is done in congested kitchen. It is really important to educate people about this manner and should encourage to cook in outdoor open kitchens. Outdoor cooking helps to disperse the pollutants like particles in soot and the other hazardous chemical compounds generated and reduce the exposure to them. So the risk can be lowered by using outdoor open kitchens.

Cigarette smoke.

Cigarette smoke contains large number of pollutants that can bring harmful effects on both humans and the environment. There are about nearly 4000 chemicals present in cigarettes can be breathed out to the atmosphere by the smoker. Smoking can contaminate the atmosphere by releasing various hazardous compounds such as carcinogenic compounds, toxic metals, radioactive elements, poisonous gases etc. Carcinogenic compounds like benzene, formaldehyde and vinyl chloride can cause cancers in human body. Toxic metals like arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd) can potentially harm human health when they inhaled or absorbed even in very small amount. Led (Pb), polonium (Po) like radioactive elements also harmful for living beings. Poisonous gases such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and nicotine can cause severe physical distress or even death when they are introduced to living organisms. All these pollutants released with cigarette smoke cause air pollution and bring serious health hazardous to active smokers as well as the passive smokers.

Gases like radon.

Granite used as floor tiles is another source of indoor air pollution. Radioactive minerals are included in the granitic rocks. These minerals can disintegrate giving radon which is an inhalable radioactive gas. If this gas is inhaled it decays into solid radioactive elements inside the lungs which continues emitting harmful radiations over a long period of time. Long term exposure to these radiation can cause cancers due to ionization of cell materials changing cell’s physical and chemical attributes. The risk is greater where the granite is used as floor tiles in enclosed spaces like air conditioned rooms which no fresh air is drawn by the air conditioners but internally cooled. So if granite is used as floor tiles, then those areas should be well ventilated by keeping doors and windows open.

Urea formaldehyde.

Urea formaldehyde is a resin which used as a coating of modern furniture due to its ability of binding pieces of wood together. But this coat on furniture can emit formaldehyde with time. This compound is known as carcinogenic hence surrounding air can be polluted. This can affect seriously on human if they expose in long term. This problem is much severe in western countries having different seasons with varying temperatures. The furnished rooms are either air conditioned or heated in winter with windows closed. This can lead exposure to high amount of formaldehyde in long-term. It can develop cancers. So the rooms having such kind of furniture should be well ventilated to reduce the risk.

Household pesticides can always leak pesticides in to indoor air. These pesticides can cause dangerous effects on human health. So it is very important to store those hazardous chemicals safely.

Vidura Dananjaya

Admin of Get Basic Idea / Senior Solution Architect.

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