HOUSEHOLD AIR POLLUTION, CAUSE OF CHRONIC RESPIRATORY ISSUES AND INFANT DEATHS
There are 2 types of air pollution- first Ambient Air Pollution(AAP) and second is Indoor Air Pollution (IAP). All these years we have been focusing only on ambient air pollution caused by factories, emissions from vehicles but have been ignoring indoor or household air pollution. We believe that our house is the safest place but very recently it has come to light that we ourselves are polluting our homes which can have very adverse effects on our health.
Elaborating on household air pollution, Dr. Sundeep Salvi, Director, Pulmocare Research and Education (PURE) Foundation, Pune says that, “Indoor tobacco smoking, fuel used for cooking, construction material used in building houses, use of incense sticks or camphor and various forms of mosquito repellents, use of pesticides and chemicals used for cleaning at home, and use of diffusers for artificial fragrances are some of the various sources that contribute to household air pollution and exposures to indoor air pollutants in early childhood also tend to have repercussions throughout life.”
He further added that “According to State of Global Air 2020 (SoGA 2020) report approximately 116000 infants in India have died within a month of birth due to Household air pollution. The number is huge and quite alarming.”
Talking about the health complications in these newborn babies exposed to household air pollution Dr. Salvi said that, “If a pregnant lady breathes in pollutants, it affects the growing fetus in her womb. Environmental pollutants inhaled by pregnant mother is transmitted to the unborn baby through blood circulation and thus all organs like heart, brain ,kidney, lungs are affected . The child is premature and has health complications like poorly developed organs, respiratory issues due to stunted lungs and is underweight. The organs of the newborn are not strong enough to adjust to the outside environment and sadly they die within months. Even if they survive they tend to have serious health issues, especially lung diseases.
Air pollution in general affects everybody and if exposed for longer time, the repercussions are worse. The levels of air pollution in India are such that Patients recovering from Covid are returning back to hospitals with respiratory issues. To minimalize household air pollution more plants need to be planted inside homes as plants help in reducing levels of pollution to a great extent. Homes should have proper ventilation and people should make a conscious decision to curb pollution.