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Clean your indoor air if you want to lower the risk of preterm births, say experts

Did you know that indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than the outdoor air and even cause preterm births? So here's what you need to do.

A while back, research by the The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York, found that out of the 27 million global preterm births, India accounts for 1 million. All because of one reason- exposure to fine particulate matter.

Yes, you read that right.

The study proves that an expectant mum’s exposure to pollutants in the air can affect her growing baby. Especially, his lungs and respiratory system.

Environement hurting your unborn baby's health?

The findings are even more alarming because indoor air can reportedly be up to five times more polluted than the outdoor air. That's because of the following reasons:

  • Other than dust there are also particles and gases from ev­eryday household products. These include cleaning supplies, paint and varnish to floors, carpets and upholstery.
  • In addition to these, the outdoor pollution such as pollen, vehicle exhaust and industrial contaminants makes the quality of indoor air more dangerous. It can also increase the risk of respiratory diseases and allergies.

The levels of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 have serious health implications. These can include asthma, bronchitis, chronic respiratory symptoms including, shortness of breath, painful breathing, and premature deaths.

Preterm babies are at highest risk from inhaled toxins because of their underdeveloped lungs.

Preterm births have long-term health impact

Dr. Aruna Kalra, Gururgram-based gyneacologist and obstetrician spoke to theindusparent about the long-term impact of preterm births on the baby. Most of which, are caused by bad air.

"Preterm babies are more likely to need resuscitation at birth. They also requires respiratory stabilisation, thermal stabilisation, nutritional management, infection control, fluid and electrolyte management. They should be checked for hypoglycaemia, pneumonia, seizures, and apnea to prevent preterm brain injury," reveals Dr Kalra.

Incidentally, as per the recent study conducted by the World Health Organization, the single biggest environmental threat to children globally is air pollution.

Given that indoors is where we spend most of our time we should take proactive steps to head off airborne pollutants.

Steps to improve indoor air

One of the most crucial steps in prevention of indoor air pollution is educating and spreading awareness.

"Fortunately, people can now control the quality of indoor air and reduce their exposure to these pollutants," shares Girish Bapat, Director West and South Asia Region, Blueair air purifier.

He added that due to the rise in air pollution, there has been an increase in the demand for air purifier as well.

What to keep in mind while buying an air purifier?

Bapat shares that there are many air purifiers in the market. But it is important you buy an indoor air purifier that is suitable to your home or office, based on the following.

  • Efficiency. The first thing to keep in mind when buying an air purifier is its efficiency. This is based on the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). It is the volume of clean air that a machine can deliver in a set amount of time. "The higher the CADR number, the faster the rate at which the room air purifier removes indoor air pollutants. For best results, look for the AHAM Verified symbol. With the CADR standard, it’s easy to tell which room air purifier works best," explains Bapat.
  • HEPA filters. Air purifier retailers often use the term 'high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. But customers misunderstand it. "As per the existing standards, an air purifier is certified as HEPA-compliant only if it can remove 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 micrometer in diameter or lower. Therefore, besides ensuring that the air purifier has a genuine HEPA filter, it has to filter out PM2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or less) particles at a high CADR. This ensures the air in the room is continually cleaned," shares Bapat.
  • Room size. You should always opt for models that are designed to purify the air in a slightly larger space than the actual target room size. To choose the right air purifier size, measure the length and width of the room. Then, multiply the two for the total area in square meters. Standard room sizes are based on an 2.4 meters ceiling height.
  • Miscellaneous factors. Other factors include low noise levels, power efficiency and cost of replacing filters. An energy-efficient room air purifier can use as little as 20 watts of power running at its highest setting. While another can draw up to 200 watts. To save money and the environment, look for the Energy Star label.

Before you buy, be sure to verify the legitimacy of the company and its performance claims.

Ask a lot of questions and get answers. With these precautionary measures you can also protect your family from the ill effects of air pollution. As well as lower the risk of preterm births.

Also read: Can pollution cause infertility in women?