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Indoor Air Pollution
This article deals with ‘Indoor Air Pollution – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Environment, you can click here.
Apart from outdoor pollution, the peculiar situation in India is that it also suffers from indoor contamination caused by smoky chulhas. Such exposure to the smoke of Chulhas is equivalent to inhaling carcinogens from two packs of cigarettes a day. Moreover, they impact the health of pregnant women and newborns adversely.
Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
- Charcoal & wood burning lead to an increase in the concentration of VOCs and PM 2.5 & 10. According to the Economic Survey of India, there is a lack of access to better forms of energy. 49% of households still use firewood for cooking.
- Poorly ventilated dwellings (especially in slums)
- Asbestos released from the construction material
- Tobacco Smoking within the household.
- Biological Pollution which includes pollen from plants, hair from pets, fungi etc.
1. Health impacts
- It results in acute and chronic respiratory conditions, lung cancer and cataract.
- It results in Sick Building Syndrome (a situation in which the occupants experience acute health issues due to time spent in the building).
2. Gender issues
- Women are disproportionately impacted because they work on chulhas.
- The impact on children is more because their coping capacity is low.
Steps taken by the Government
- The government has launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to provide LPG connection to BPL households (by the Petroleum Ministry and part of Swatch Bharat Abhiyaan).
- Scientists have developed a graphene-based sensor to detect air pollution in homes.
- Neerdhur: National Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has developed ‘Neerdhur’, a novel multi-fuel domestic cooking stove.
- HEPA Filters (High Energy Particulate Arrestor): HEPA Filters are used as Indoor air filters. But they are just for particulate matter.
- WAYU (Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit): WAYU is made by CSIR-NEERI. It has filters for removing Particulate Matter along with activated carbon (charcoal) and UV lamps for removing poisonous gases.
- SDG 7 aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.