Contrary to public perception, air pollution is not just limited to outdoors. It remains even when you step inside. People living in poorly-ventilated homes face the added risk from indoor air pollutants — smoking, cooking fumes, suspended particulate matter, mould, dust-mites and animal dander.
“Indoor air-pollution is almost as bad as outdoor air pollution and it affects as much a person who already suffers from respiratory illness as it affects a healthy person,” said Dr Vikas Maurya, consultant, department of respiratory medicine, allergy and sleep disorder, BLK Superspecialty Hospital.
Smoking at home is the biggest health hazard, especially in poorly-ventilated apartments. “Passive intake of smoke is equally harmful and the bi-products linger on curtains and other articles in the house for very long. One should keep windows open while cooking and taking a shower to maintain healthy air circulation. One needs to be especially careful with pets as they shed hair and leave various micro-organisms in the air,” he added.
Those whose houses are located on the main road with heavy traffic movement can throw windows open very early in the morning for about an hour to let fresh air in, experts advise.
Taking precaution is the only way out to stop developing serious respiratory or cardiac diseases.
“There is a direct increase in incidence of heart disease and respiratory illness with increased exposure to pollutants in the air. There is a rapid decline in lung function and lung capacity among people who have had prolonged exposure to polluted air. It is a cause for serious concern as it could eventually turn fatal,” said Dr Randeep Guleria, professor and head, department of pulmonary medicine, AIIMS.
“As far as possible take preventive measures and don’t delay seeing a doctor if symptoms like difficulty in breathing, wheezing and persistent cough appear,” he said.