This is an educative post about those elements inside our home that can be potential health risks. I will take you through what they are, what causes them, and then some preventive measures. The purpose of this blog post is not to scare you, but to educate you so you’re well informed and can make informed choices.
If I made a slightly exaggerated caricature of myself I would have a microfiber duster tucked at my waist and scrub in my hand. I can go to the first floor and on my way back down, would wipe everything in sight. I put on a refreshing face mask and when I take it off, I use the still moist, non-woven part to wipe the nearest window sill or something. I know exactly how many days it takes for a bloody spider to spin half a square foot of webbing because I cleaned the previous one a few days ago. If I see it, I have to clean it… sometimes even in my friends’ homes.
I would wonder if there were things that we could not see, that could cause us harm and guess what, there are. Seeing is believing is not always true, at least not in this case.
Well, you may argue that dust can be seen, but are you sure? Not always. What is dust? In the home environment, they are a combination of things, depending on where you live. Plant pollen, human skill cells, fine particles of earth, cloth fibers, etc. While we take great care in making sure the house is dust-free, one place that gets overlooked is the vertical surface: the walls.
Dust causes allergies (eye irritation, coughing, sneezing) and asthma attacks and that’s a no brain’er, everyone knows it!
Prevention: Your monthly deep cleaning routine needs to include wiping down the walls with a dry micro-fibre stick. You also get the ones with long arms so you don’t have to get on and off a ladder. Also, if you are a maximalist like me, make sure you’ve laid out your decor accessories in such a way that you are able to lift, wipe them, wipe the surface they rest on and then move on.
Mold is a type of fungus that has small organisms. It usually grows in damp spots at home like the kitchen, bathroom, and cupboards that are not accessed often. It’s that earthy, musty smell that you get when you get near a damp spot. The more humidity, the more fun the mold has to multiply.
Again, mold can cause allergies, skin irritations, respiratory disorders, etc.
Prevention: Wipe away and clean mold regularly (wear a mask, so you or your house help do not inhale). Always, have your rooms well ventilated. If you are not blessed with large windows, have an exhaust fan that can keep the air circulating. Inside cupboards, keep packets of silica gel that will absorb moisture. Note – Silica gel expands when they absorb moisture, you will have to either it regularly or dry it out. In extreme cases, if you live in a high humidity place and it bothers you, invest in a dehumidifier.
This is what’s truly invisible and harms the most. We don’t need to talk about outdoor air pollution, it’s been a hot topic for the country for a long time. But do you know, in some cases, the indoor air quality is worse than outdoors?
Here’s why: Let me explain it to you as simply as I can:- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can be found in a lot of building materials, furniture, upholstery, carpets, paints, etc. Some of the common VOCs are acetone, benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, etc. Materials that need heavy binders like plywood, particle boards, and MDF give out VOCs.
How do VOCs harm us? Well, VOC’s can go from being completely harmless to causing allergies to cancer-causing if one is exposed to them for a long period of time.
Prevention: The best way to protect yourself is to eliminate the cause of the VOC.
Walls: Cheap paints on the wall can cost you your health in the long-run and that’s a very expensive trade-off. Fomite infection (bacteria) on the walls is a reality and can spread to other parts of the home quickly.
Look for paints with Anti-Bacterial Technology. Thankfully, Asian Paints has a revolutionary option called Royale Health Shield that kills 99%# bacteria on walls. The Silver Ion Technology in the paint has been recommended* by the Indian Medical Association. The paint also helps in reducing formaldehyde, which is a common source of indoor air pollution. Talk about a double win!!
Furniture: Cheap furniture made from particleboard is not value for money at all. Stick with solid wood furniture as much as you can and minimize the use of engineered wood. Make it your business to know what material the furniture is made of and what harmful effects it may have before you spend money and bring it home. If you must use plywood, look at greener options that are certified as non-toxic.
Cleaning Products: Chemical cleaning products are another major cause of poor air quality inside the home. Switch to natural and herbal alternatives, especially if you have infants or elderly parents at home. It’s a lot easier on them since they spend a major part of the day indoors.
Indoor Plants: Research suggests that certain indoor plants like pothos, areca palms, snake plants, etc… can absorb harmful VOCs and clean the air around them. However, it’s not very clear as to how many plants you need to make a significant impact. In my opinion, any help is a good help, so surround yourself with plants. They also make you happy, so it’s a win-win in every way.
Activated Charcoal: Charcoal, as we know, is a form of carbon that is extremely porous. When treated with oxygen (that’s why “Activated”) a ton of tiny pores are opened in the carbon atom which acts as a trap. This acts as an air filter. You can find activated charcoal filled bags in eco stores and large online grocery stores too.
Others: Airborne irritants can also be killed with an oil lamp burning (that’s what we do during Diwali if you consider the scientific reason behind it) and diffusing essential oils. Himalayan salt lamps are also used for air purification. The market is flooded with electrical air purifiers that you can buy off-the-shelf.
After the massive air pollution scare in the capital, switching to a greener, more sustainable lifestyle is no longer an option, it’s a MUST! Consume less, consume good quality. We are all in it together. And only when every single human being on the planet does their bit for Mother Earth, will things change.
#Royale Health Shield with Silver Ion technology, within 2 hours of exposure kills 99% bacteria on walls.
*Fomite Infections (bacteria) can spread through infected walls among other indoor surfaces in homes and offices
For complete disclaimer and more information, refer to www.asianpaints.com/healthshield