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Indoor conditions can lead to respiratory diseases: 5 ways to improve air quality at work and at home


By Dr. Sandeep HS

Most of us live that we believe the air in our homes is safe to breathe. However, indoor air is sometimes even more polluted than in the open air. Ordinary pollutants in indoor air can trigger respiratory discomfort, lung disease and exacerbations of COPD.

Indoor air pollution is an important risk factor for the development of chronic respiratory diseases.

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common, preventable and treatable respiratory disease characterized by persistent symptoms such as coughing, breathing and sputum production.

Suffering from persistent coughing? It could be a sign of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Tens of millions of people worldwide suffer from COPD, a life-threatening, life-threatening lung disease that includes multiple conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

COPD: In figures

More than 400 million people worldwide suffer from COPD. In India, estimated COPD cases are about 15 million, of which 9 million are men, and 6 million are women.

COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, resulting in about 6% of global deaths.

Risk factors

Smoking is a major risk factor for COPD worldwide. However, there is an increase in cases of non-smoking COPD, especially in developing countries such as India, where indoor air quality is poor.

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Most smokers think smoking is cold. No matter how indulgent you are, the tobacco is harmful to your health. Tobacco contains over 7,000 toxins and 70 known carcinogens (chemicals that increase the risk of cancer) and can damage almost every body organ.

Dr. Sachin Kumar, Senior Consultant – Pulmonology at Sakra World Hospital explains how smoking affects every part of the body.

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Passive smoking or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has been shown to contain the same dangerous chemicals as cigarettes, including formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. It is estimated that 7% of women who use biomass and have never smoked in their lives also suffer from COPD.

Most rural population still rely on biomass fuel for cooking. Smoke emitted by these fuels generates hazardous chemicals that can lead to respiratory problems such as COPD if people are exposed to it for a longer period of time.

Other risk factors for people living indoors are common biological pollutants such as mold, pollen, pet hair, and dust mites.

Can COPD be reversed?

This condition can not be completely reversed, but a healthy lifestyle and appropriate treatment can help control the disease.

Overall, both men and women are exposed to heavy indoor air pollutants and are 2-3 times more susceptible to being diagnosed with respiratory problems. People spend most of their time in the house. Therefore, it is essential to take immediate action to improve indoor air quality.


Steps to improve indoor air quality:
– Wash your bedding frequently to get rid of dust mites. Maintaining indoor moisture below 50% can also help.

– Avoid smoking indoors to improve air quality.

– Keep plants indoors can be a health benefit. Different studies suggest that apartment plants can significantly reduce indoor air pollution.

– Air filtration units can also be used to improve indoor air quality. Using LPG instead of biomass fuel for cooking can significantly reduce the level of indoor pollution.

Simple steps taken to improve air quality in homes and offices can significantly reduce the burden of chronic respiratory disease.

(The author is a pulmonologist consultant at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals in Bengaluru)

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