1) Treat your bedroom as if it were a hospital room
Start thinking of your bedroom as a sacred space like a temple. Or even a hospital.Try to keep your bedroom as sparse as possible with only the bare essentials. Take a bit of inspiration from the Japanese and keep the furnishing minimal, with no carpets. By breathing in fresh air for six to eight hours you are protecting your lungs for a considerable part of the day, giving them the added advantage to battle the pollutants when you finally step outside to begin your day. Don’t you want that kind of protection and leverage?
2) Always remove your shoes
Our shoes literally bring in the filth and muck from the outside world into our homes. If you ever place the soles of your shoes under a microscope, you would shudder at the amount of bacteria you will find. Your footwear can pick up everything from bacteria-packed fecal matter to toxic lead dust and harmful pesticides. When you walk around the house wearing the same shoes, you are only helping spread more germs and toxins, adding to whatever else are already inside.
3) Use any kind of varnish outside the house
Varnishes or any substance with an alcohol or spirit smell emit high levels of pollutants that can remain inside your house for at least a week. Step outside when using nail polish or nail polish removers. Or do it in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on. Get all wooden furniture varnished outside and bring it in only once the smell has gone.
4) Swap the usual cleaners for vinegar
Most cleaning products contain chemicals that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Research has linked once-a-week use of cleaning products with a 24 to 32 per cent higher risk of progressive lung disease. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe and effective options. Soap and water, or vinegar and baking soda can serve as inexpensive alternatives.
5) Pollen, bacteria and mould
People who live by the coast or in areas with heavy rainfall will notice mould growing on the walls of their houses or the paint peeling. Mould is a pollutant and can cause respiratory complications. Indoor air pollution is exacerbated by pollen and bacteria. Given that we spend 80 to 90 per cent of our time indoors, air quality matters. It’s especially important that we clean mouldy areas of our houses thoroughly.
Cover of How To Grow Fresh Air by Kamal Meattle and Barun Aggarwal
6) Go digital
Newspapers are printed with inks that release toluene, a harmful toxin. And as you keep stacking them, the amount of toxins only increases. Go paperless; we are in the age of the digital world after all.
7) Agarbattis emit PM 2.5; candles are just as bad
PM 2.5 levels spike five to seven times when agarbattis are lit. Even herbal agarbattisrelease toxic gases and PM 2.5. I suggest you light your agarbattis outside and stick them in a Tulsi pot. Candles are guilty of emitting VOCs (volatile organic compounds) as well, especially the perfumed ones that a lot of us like to use around the house. Remember, combustion and smoke is the same. There is no good smoke.
8) Most things that smell good are bad for you
Perfumes, deodorants and air fresheners fall in the same category. They emit high VOCs. I know that puts a lot of you in a spot, after all we don’t want to smell bad. But the question is, what’s more critical? Health or vanity?
9) Use these indoor plants:
a) Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum)
Money Plants remove formaldehyde and carbon monoxide (CO) from the air and help in increasing general indoor air quality. They improve your cognitive ability, thereby making you smarter!
b) Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens)
These palms work like air purifiers by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
c) Mother-In-Law’s Tongue or snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
These plants absorb harmful toxins such as nitrogen oxide, xylene, carbon monoxide, benzene, and formaldehyde from the a
ir. They produce oxygen at night, even in a dark room, making it the perfect bedroom plant.
10) Do Diwali differently
In most first world countries, fireworks are a community affair rather than an individual celebration. During festivals such as Diwali and Holi, when fireworks lead to a sharp drop in air quality every year, encourage your neighbours to celebrate together in the colony rather than only with their families. This will mean fewer fireworks, and less pollution.
Kamal Meattle and Barun Aggarwal are two of the country’s top experts on battling air pollution. Their book, ‘How To Grow Fresh Air’, based on Meattle’s viral TED talk, can be pre-