There is an urgent need to ensure clean environment and healthy living as millions of premature deaths in the world are reported caused by household and ambient air pollution.
Southeast Asia region, which includes India, accounted for 2.4 million of the seven million premature deaths caused by household and ambient air pollution annually, according to a WHO report.
Of the 3.8 million deaths caused by household air pollution globally, the region accounts for 1.5 million or 40 per cent deaths, and of the 4.2 million global deaths due to ambient air pollution, 1.3 million or 30 per cent are reported from the region, the report stated.
The WHO warned all the Southeast Asia nations to aggressively address the double burden of household and outdoor air pollution.
How harmful is household air pollution?
“Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalised people bear the brunt of the burden. It is unacceptable that over 3 billion people most of them women and children are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.
How to prevent household air pollution
Several countries, including India, are making efforts and taking measures to prevent household air pollution.
In view of the fact certain cooking fuels and household energy are considered major sources of air pollution, the Indian Government, under its Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, has provided 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use.
However, there are several steps that individuals can do to prevent household air pollution. Here are five things one must do to tackle household air pollution.
1 -Keep the house and the surroundings clean. Remove all garbage from around the house. Clean all areas of the house, including all nooks and corners, well. Wipe and dust clean all surfaces in the house. Do not let dust collect on empty surfaces.
2 -Ensure proper ventilation for proper air circulation in the house. However, avoid keeping doors and windows wide open all the time. Prevent outdoor dirt and dust from filtering into the rooms.
3 -Use the right kind of draperies and curtains for windows and doors to prevent outside dust.
4 -Avoid using fuels for cooking that produces smoke and adds to the pollution. Use LPG or smoke-free cooking system. Also, ensure proper exhaust system in cooking area to prevent irritant smell or aroma of cooking oils and cooking ingredients.
5 -Have a green house. Keep as many as green indoor plants. Certain indoor plants work as air purifier. Water them and wipe the leaves dry and clean daily.
Improving air quality calls for sustained action in keeping the environment clean and smoke free. A one-time action will not help.
“Improving air quality demands sustained and coordinated government action at all levels,” the WHO said.
WHO’s global urban air pollution database measured the levels of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) from more than 4,300 cities in 108 countries, according to which ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.
Follow the steps given above for a clean and green environment to prevent air pollution and stay healthy.