Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
There was a wedding in the family last week; and while I had to give it a miss because of my little one’s exams, my parents and extended family attended and enjoyed it! What’s more, the wedding was at my native place, a little village in northern Karnataka, where agriculture is the main source of livelihood. So after the wedding, my brother and cousins spent a day picnicking in our sugarcane fields; breathing in the fresh, dry air that my native is famous for; and sent me such amazing pictures that had me longing for my ancestral village and that picnic!
Really, I so wanted my little one to be able to enjoy that clean, crisp air from our fields too! But alas, I am the city mouse and my little one unfortunately breathes air that is polluted way too much. With an apartment close to a busy road and now because of the advent of winters, there is constant smoke and particulate matter present in the air that we breathe on a daily basis that is not only unhealthy at present, but also a big cause of concern for the future!
In big cities, where there is also a lot of industrialization; as much pollution is caused by particulate matter as is caused by the large number of vehicles on the road. Particulate matter that I mentioned earlier; is a mixture of soot, metals, smoke, sulfates, nitrates, dust, tire rubber and water; and studies have connected long-term exposure to particulate matter to significant health problems in people; as particulate matter can penetrate deep into the lungs; or even in our bloodstream!
Now, the worst fears of any mother are to do with her children falling sick for whatever reasons; and a mere cursory glance at the diseases caused because of just air pollution is enough to send a chill up the spine of the best of us! From constant coughing fits to reduced lung capacity; from cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses to asthma, bronchitis and emphysema; from damage to the respiratory system to a reduced life span; the evils of air pollution are just too much to ignore!
Speaking of illnesses, did you know that air pollution causes several diseases; some of which we never would otherwise relate to air pollution? For example, would you ever have thought that air pollution has the potential to cause cancer and neurobehavioral disorders? Yes, you read that right!
Lung cancer and pulmonary cancer could be caused because of air pollution. According to an article, a 2002 study by C. Arden Pope III, Ph.D. and colleagues published in "The Journal of the American Medical Association," long-term exposure to combustion-generated fine particulate matter poses a significant risk for cardiopulmonary and lung cancer mortality. Another 2000 study by Fredrik Nyberg and colleagues published in the journal "Epidemiology" has concluded that urban air pollution increases lung cancer risk, especially motor vehicle emissions!
Air pollution also causes neurobehavioral disorders where the polluted air directly affects the nervous system.
Air pollution can also cause the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder which causes a person’s airways to lose shape and become floppy or distended!
Air pollution also causes the weakening of lung functions along with diseases like asthma, pneumonia, acute bronchitis.
But this does not mean that it is only outdoor pollution that affects us and we are good if we just close our doors and windows and sit inside our homes. Nope. Air pollution occurs inside our beloved homes too! Inefficient cooking and heating particles in our own home, in addition to a plethora of indoor plants, pets and even unhygienic use of our indoor space causes air pollution and gives rise to the fear of the diseases it causes!
Scared? Me too! And as every mother worth her salt will agree, it is high time we started looking for solutions! It is time to think what we can do to ensure that our family breathes in clean and pure air. And while reducing emission of pollutants and using cleaner fuels and processes can help us when it comes to controlling outdoor air pollution; it is more the indoor air pollution that we need to individually concentrate on controlling.
And the good news is; this isn’t a very difficult task! Yes. By improving the ventilation in our homes, by maintaining good hygiene, by throwing open our windows, by grooming our pets well; and by keeping only those plants indoors that help with controlling air pollution; we can work wonders in our homes!
Not only that; but air cleaners and purifiers help too. They help take out smaller allergens like smoke, dust, asbestos, chemicals, pet dander and pollen. Every time the air passes through them, it gets cleaner and leaves our home that much more safe to live in!
So if you ask me, the time has come now, to think seriously about that air purifier that you have not thought about for a long time. After all, your family’s health demands it and the peace of your mind depends on it! Like they say, the air that we breathe is a gift, so why not make it a pure one?