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Is your indoors healthy?

Pollutants tend to prefer living indoors rather than outdoors. They could be naked to the eye, but very dangerous to living beings.

Cleaning the floors and grills aren’t enough. The widest structure in our homes are walls – 86 % of parents confessed during a survey that they do not clean the wall as often as the floor.

Children spend an average of betweeneight to 20 hours indoor daily. Are there hidden dangers in the air they are breathing? The answer to this question is PROBABLY YES.  Today, we shall tackle your living environment within your premises and the air that is trapped between those four walls.

 

When we think of polluted air, the first images that come to our minds are often big factories pumping out smelly clouds or old cars puffing out grey exhaust.  On the contraire, did you know that indoor air pollutants could be even more dangerous than outdoor air pollution!

 

It is funny how we mop our floors everyday, clean our windows and grills every week and wash the bathroom every two days once but we neglect the biggest surface in our homes – The Walls!

 

This is very worrying, especially if you have young children at home.  It was reported from a recent survey conducted by Nippon Paint that:

 

  • 80% of parents agree that their children touch the walls during play
  • 76% reported that their child uses the wall as a support to learn how to walk
  • 86% confessed that they do not clean the wall as often as the floor
  • 88% says that they tend to overlook the wall as a medium for the transmission of viruses & bacteria

 

Walls can cause the transmission of diseases like Hand Foot & Mouth Disease, Influenza, E-coli infection, MRSA infection and Staphylococcus Aures infection. Children below the age of five are the most vulnerable to the risk of HFMD. Another trivia – “Did you know that Flu viruses can sometimes survive on indoor surfaces for more than 7 days?”

 

The first step to keeping your home and family safe is learning more about the problem. In this article, we shall try and identify some of the common indoor air pollutants that are probably present in our homes.

 

Radon

 

Radon is an odourless, colourless gas that is found everywhere in low levels. It is made naturally as the uranium in the Earth breaks down.

 

Risks:

 

Being exposed to elevated levels of radon increases your risk of getting lung cancer.

 

What you can do:

 

You should screen your home for elevated radon levels with a kit or have it tested by a qualified professional. Radon screening kits are easy to use and can be purchased online with your credit card and it shouldn’t cost too much. If your home does have elevated levels of radon, you must hire a qualified professional to remove it.

 

 

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

 

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a common oxide of nitrogen. It is a toxic and corrosive gas. Please note that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is different from nitrous oxide (N2O), an oxide of nitrogen that is medically useful when administered by trained professionals, such as dentists.

 

Risks:

 

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) irritates the throat, eyes, nose, and respiratory tract.

 

Exposure to very high doses of NO2, such as at the site of a building fire, can lead to pulmonary edema (potentially fatal liquid build-up in the lungs) or lung injury. Moderate exposure can lead to acute or chronic bronchitis.  Low-level exposure can impair lung function for people who are already at risk, such as asthmatics, people with chronic obstructive lung disease, and children.

 

What you can do:

 

It’s important to ensure that combustion appliances, such as heaters or dryers, are installed correctly, used as directed, and kept in good condition. Make sure the air from these appliances can flow outdoors.

 

 

Second-hand smoke

 

Second-hand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke, comes from incompletely burned tobacco products. According to recent research, second-hand smoke contains over 4,700 chemical ingredients.

 

Risks:

 

In the short term, exposure to second-hand smoke can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. In the long run, it can cause many of the same health problems as smoking, like wheezing, pneumonia, bronchitis, and lung cancer. Asthma attacks may be triggered by second-hand smoke exposure.

 

What you can do:

 

Do not smoke cigarettes, cigars, or pipe tobacco inside your home and do not allow others to do so.

 

Lead Particles

 

Lead is a natural, soft metal that is very toxic if consumed. Lead was widely used in house paint until it was banned in 1978. Lead particles and dust can become airborne, leading to dangerous indoor air pollution.

 

Risks:

 

Exposure to lead can damage the brain, nervous system, kidneys, and red blood cells. If children are exposed, they may develop short attention spans, behavioural problems, lower IQ levels, and delayed growth.

 

What you can do:

 

It is advised to keep play areas clean, mopping floors frequently, and using damp cloths to wipe window ledges and flat areas often. Keep kids away from chipped or peeled paint, clean their toys often, and make sure they wash their hands before eating.

 

Asbestos

 

Asbestos is the name used for a group of minerals found naturally all over the world. Asbestos was declared unsafe in 1971, listing it as a hazardous air pollutant. Although asbestos is not hazardous when intact, disturbing asbestos fibres causes them to become airborne, where they could potentially enter the lungs.

 

Risks:

 

In the long-term, exposure to asbestos can lead to various lung disorders, including lung cancer and asbestosis. Asbestosis is an inflammatory condition of the lungs that causes coughing, trouble breathing, and permanent lung damage.

 

What you can do:

 

If products in your home contain asbestos, but are in good condition, it is recommended to just keeping them in good condition. Otherwise, have them removed by a trained professional.

  

Mould

 

Moulds are types of fungi that grow indoors and outdoors. Some types of mould are harmless, while others are dangerous.

 

Risks:

 

Mould can trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms can include nasal stuffiness, eye or throat irritation, swelling, coughing or wheezing, headaches, or skin irritation. Severe reactions can lead to fever and trouble breathing. Mould can also trigger asthma attacks.

 

What you can do:

 

The key to fighting mould is keeping moisture and humidity levels in check. Fix leaks and clean up spills ASAP. Make sure appliances that create moisture are vented. Keep the bathroom fan on or the window open when taking a shower.

 

Formaldehyde

 

Formaldehyde is a very common indoor air pollutant. Because there are many sources, formaldehyde is found in virtually all homes and buildings. New homes are more likely to contain high levels of formaldehyde.

 

Risks:

 

High levels of Formaldehyde can cause symptoms such as teary eyes, coughing and irritation to nose and throat. Babies and Children whose lungs are not fully developed are exposed to invisible threat of Formaldehyde from household products like flooring glues.

 

Every one in five people are extra sensitive to Formaldehyde, even when the exposure is low, especially amongst babies and children.

 

Formaldehyde is often used in clothing and drapes to create a permanent press. It is used in adhesives, and in some paints and coating products. Formaldehyde is most concentrated in particleboard, plywood panelling and medium density fibreboard.

 

What you can do:

 

Remove the formaldehyde-based products or avoid bringing them inside your home. Increase ventilation efficiently. Continuous ventilation will rid your home of unwanted toxins from furniture and finishes. Try allowing the product containing formaldehyde to air out before bringing it into your home. Leave the newly purchased product in your garage for a few days.

 

Basically, it is necessary to always keep your indoor environment clean. Investing in a good air purifier would be a good idea, especially with the numerous haze outbreaks we have been faced with recently. You may not visually see the impact an air purifier has, but its benefits are worth the investment.

 

Also remember to always keep your home floors, windows, grills, fans and bathrooms clean and dry all the time and DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR WALLS.

 

When painting your home interior, use safe paint. Nippon recently launched its Child Wellness Range technology. It’s surely worth a try. The Child Wellness Range by Nippon is a series of functional coatings that focuses on enabling clean air, safe touch and creativity in three key growth milestones respectively – infants, toddlers and children.

 

Its paint solutions are water-based, lead and mercury free with low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) as well as Total Volatile Organic Compound (TVOC) emissions, which is safe for the environment as well as indoor spaces.

 

Products within the range have obtained an existing accreditation from Singapore Environmental Council (Green Label Certification), ATS Labs, TÜV SÜD3 and SETSCO certified.

 

The above views and suggestions are that of the writer and not this publication or any association. For best solutions, it would be best to consult a professional cleaner and a medical professional.

 

 

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GP

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