Change Starts At Home

Until the planet gets completely on track and makes renewable energy the main source of humanity’s fuel, air pollution is going to be a major problem. And even when we do reach that important milestone, there will still be some things in the house that make it tougher (or dangerous) to breathe. We bring you a slew of tips on how to reduce indoor air pollution, so that you can take the first step toward a cleaner and greener world

• Don’t smoke in your house, don’t let other people smoke in your house, and don’t smoke in other people’s homes. Cigarettes are bad enough outside, but indoors the smoke and toxins can have a multiplying effect. 

• Open the windows to ventilate your home. A stuffy, closed atmosphere allows dust and debris to float about indoors, making it easier for allergens such as pollen and dander to remain dangerously close.

• Home appliances such as washing machines and ovens are among the biggest sources of dangerous exhaust. Make sure these are vented, and use the exhaust fan when cooking on a gas range.

• Humidity is tough to control in a sub-tropical place like India, but keeping indoor levels below 50% can help prevent mould from growing. Use air conditioners when it’s muggy, and clean your humidifier in the winter.

• Shower and loo time can throw up any number of air pollutants that float around if you don’t air out the space. Make sure your bathroom vents outside instead of into the rest of your home.

• Air fresheners and scented candles mask odours instead of eliminating them, and while they may be nice from time to time, regular use can do more harm than good. Keep incense use to a minimum.

• Hairspray, nail polish, fragrances and other beauty products contribute to a range of nasal and respiratory irritants. Avoid excess pollution by restricting their use to a ventilated area.

• The naphthalene fumes in mothballs can make you sick if you inhale them too much. If you need to keep the cloth-eaters away, look for an organic product.

• Every evening, as dusk sets in and the mosquitoes come out to play, it can be tempting to light pesticide coils around the house. Look for organic, low-smoke varieties or else use a cream.

• Can’t wait to break out your new clothes, particularly cottons? Wash them before you wear them. Companies add all sorts of chemicals to clothing before shipping them.

• Leave your shoes outside. If that’s not possible, use a doormat to get rid of excess dirt and debris before you enter the house. This is especially important if you have a baby or pet at home.

• A vacuum cleaner can be a great investment. Fit it with a micro-filter bag and give your entire house a cleaning every other day.

• Polishing or woodwork that requires the application of any substance with fumes should be done off-premises or outdoors. The chemicals in brass polish and lacquer are particularly harmful to asthmatics.

• Surprisingly, carpeting can be a source of dangerous chemicals. Look for padding and adhesives with fewer emissions, and make sure you provide extra ventilation the week after you install any new carpets.

• If you have a chimney or furnace, clean it regularly to prevent carcinogenic carbons from building up and spreading throughout the house.

- Ashwin