Air pollution has long been known to be a risk factor that can worsen the health of people with allergy, asthma and lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Children are also at risk – research has shown that air pollution is linked to a child’s smaller lung volume and breathing difficulties.
In January this year, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that reduction in air pollution all year around – not just during the haze period! – can actually increase one’s life expectancy. By reducing the average level of fine particle pollutants (which are the most damaging kind out there) by 10 microgrammes per cubic metre of air, 7 months can be added to a person’s life expectancy!
Therefore, it makes perfect sense to ensure that we breathe in as much fresh, unpolluted air as possible. Just like charity and happiness, the pursuit of fresh air begins in our homes.
Install an air purifier. The newest models of air purifiers come with sophisticated technology, such as nano technology, which allows better purification of the air at home. Those with powerful suction are especially good for children that tend to play on the floor, as such air purifiers can remove fine-particle pollutants at low ground level.
Open the windows. Obviously, this cannot be done when the haze is bad outdoors. On normal days, however, opening the windows can improve ventilation inside your home. This releases vapours and fumes (some which can irritate the throat and lungs). On hot days, you can use an air conditioner instead, to filter and remove these vapours and fumes.
Get rid of dust mites and dander. Either clean mattresses and sheets often, or encase them in PVC-free impermeable covers to minimize dust mites. Keep your house free of clutter and vacuum often to remove dust and dander.
Buy “air-friendly” products. When buying products that can affect the air at home (such as aerosol and fragrances), choose those that are designed to have minimal impact on the air at home. For example, scent-free may be better, especially if there is someone at home with asthma or allergy. When it comes to getting rid of insects like mosquitoes, you can pick water-based aerosol insecticides, which are generally more environmental friendly, or opt for natural home-made remedies such as a mixture of water, garlic, onion and red pepper.
Healthy Child, Healthy World. Available at www.healthchild.org