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Carpets, a faulty exhaust fan can pollute the air you breathe

People spend 90% of their time indoors; a few steps can keep spaces pollution-free.

mumbai Updated: May 01, 2012 02:03 IST
Snehal Rebello
Snehal Rebello
Hindustan Times

The cooking gas we use every day may be relatively clean fuel but without an effective exhaust fan in the kitchen, chances are that tiny food particles will accumulate making the air you breathe in at home toxic.

"Although we have a notion of LPG being clean, gases such as nitrogen oxide and fine particles do get released while cooking. If the kitchen or the home is poorly well-ventilated, these particles with other indoor pollutants can lead to major health problems," said Rakesh Kumar, director, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Mumbai centre located in Worli.

A detailed study of the indoor air quality (IAQ) in Mumbai's households conducted by NEERI has found carbon concentration in fine particulate matter within homes to be far higher than the permissible limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre of air (ug/m3). Poor indoor air quality could be because of bad ventilation, cooking style, burning of incense, besides vehicular emissions, construction activities and burning of biomass.

As people spend at least 90% of their time indoors, doctors said poor air quality could result in chronic respiratory diseases, culminating into pulmonary infections and even cancer.

"Urban residents get more exposure to IAQ in workspaces, entertainment plazas, cinema halls and auditoriums which are often mechanically ventilated. Long haul air-conditioned buses and railway coaches also expose travelers to undesirable IAQ," said Prasad Modak, executive director, Environmental Management Center, Dadar.

Modak added, "In Mumbai alone, approximately 60% of total population live in slums and use low grade solid fuel to cook. This leads to poor IAQ and cause health problems especially in women and children."

Unlike the West, India doesn't have indoor air quality standards. "There are a lot of temperature fluctuations and both high and low humidity is harmful for health. Around 40% to 60% humidity needs to be maintained. Simple techniques such as increasing ventilation and cross ventilation could be very beneficial," said Mahesh Dhongade, Honeywell, Pune.

First Published: May 01, 2012 02:02 IST