ACP delegation headed by ACP Secretary General (third from left) with Multilateral Trade Expert Morgan Githinji, Head of the ACP Geneva Office Marwa Kisiri, Assistant SG in charge of Trade and Sustainable Economic Development Viwanou Gnassounou | Credit: ACP - Photo: 2020

Tackle Indoor Air Pollution Amid COVID-19 Crisis

By J W Jackie

RENO, Nevada, USA (IDN) – Covid-19 has had an immense impact on the world ever since the first case was confirmed in China in November 2019. Since then, Americans have been instructed to avoid any non-essential travel and gatherings of more than ten people until the end of April. Spain has asked its residents to remain in hibernation. The Italian medical system cannot keep up with the number of confirmed cases. A lockdown was enforced in South Africa, forcing millions of people to isolate themselves in their own homes.

While self-isolation may hinder the spread of the virus, this is awful news for individuals that are regularly exposed to indoor air pollution. According to health professionals like Dr Meredith McCormack from the American Lung Association, an individual who tests positive for coronavirus could experience a far worse outcome if they are also exposed to air pollution.

Now is the time to quit smoking

More people than ever are spending time indoors, where the pollution is typically up to 3.5% worse than it is outdoors. While outdoor air pollution has decreased substantially in many parts of the world, thanks to countless business operations shutting down, indoor air quality is deteriorating fast. One of the greatest contributors to indoor air pollution at present time is second-hand smoke. Dr McCormack, who is actively treating Covid-19 patients, has reiterated the importance of escaping this second-hand smoke.

Globally, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death with tobacco use, resulting in more than 7 million deaths in a single year. Whether you smoke cigarettes, a pipe, or prefer to vape, now is a good time to either quit or cut down significantly or at least step outside to prevent others from being exposed to your smoke.

Always investigate any musty smells

When aiming to reduce indoor air pollution, Dr McCormack reminds the public to pay attention to allergens such as mould as well. She urges that anyone who smells anything musty should investigate it sooner rather than later.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to household mould can result in a range of health concerns ranging from itching eyes and skin to severe respiratory distress. It is crucial to not only remove any visible traces of mould, but address the source of the problem as well.

While checking for mould, individuals should also pest-proof their homes as both mice and cockroaches are known to trigger various types of respiratory distress, including asthma.

Improve indoor ventilation

One of the best ways to ward off indoor air pollution, regardless of the cause, is to allow fresh air to circulate through the house. This can best be achieved by opening the windows and doors from time to time to let fresh air in. Frying food or cooking without adequate ventilation can significantly decrease the indoor air quality. Gas stoves emit nitrogen oxides which are a known irritant to the respiratory system.

When cooking, the ventilation hood should be turned on, and windows should be opened, where possible. The doctor did note that opening windows may not be a viable idea for individuals living in close proximity to significant pollution sources. Instead, they should invest in an air purifier if it is within their budget. If this is not an option, only open the windows early in the morning and again in the evening when outdoor pollution levels tend to be at their lowest.

Bring some greenery indoors

While social isolation can help prevent the spread of Covid-19, it can also take a toll on the mental wellbeing of those confined to their homes. Experts have warned that prolonged periods of isolation during the global pandemic can both trigger and exacerbate several mental health concerns.

By bringing some greenery into your home, you can, according to researchers, address both the mental health concerns related to isolation as well as indoor air pollution. Some houseplants are touted to remove toxins from the air while also providing additional oxygen. Some of the best plants to bring indoors include bamboo palms, English ivy, corn plants, gerbera daisies, and dracaenas. 

As alarming as exposure to indoor air pollution may be, there are numerous ways in which exposure can be limited. Now is, indeed, the perfect time to change habits and make your house cleaner and healthier than ever before. [IDN-InDepthNews – 19 May 2020]

Photo by Jackie Tsang on Unsplash

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate. –

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. Feel free to share, remix, tweak and build upon it non-commercially. Please credit to the author and IDN-InDepthNews.

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