You might think of your home as the safest place from air pollution but you are wrong. According to the World Health Organization, around 3 billion people still cook and warm their homes using open fires and stoves that use solid fuel such as coal or wood. In addition, around eight million Australians have cats and/or dogs contributing to potential allergy triggers. You may just not realize it but the air you breathe inside your home (or office) may even be more hazardous than outside air because of indoor air pollution.
Chances of indoor air pollution are especially high during winter where houses and offices are usually kept shut. Without proper condition and circulation of air, dangers to you and your family health only get worse. Based on recent reports from WHO, over 4 million people die from illness caused by indoor air pollution rising from cooking with solid fuels like coal. What's alarming is not only adults are susceptible to this danger but conditions are worst for children. Indoor air pollution is responsible for more than 50% of pneumonia-related deaths in children (aged 4 and below) because of inhaled soot.
Many people refuse to believe that there is imminent danger in their own homes. But the numbers cannot lie, according to reports, 3.8 million non-communicable deaths every year are attributed to exposure to household air pollution.
Indoor Air Pollution Unknown Dangers
Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in children. When indoor air pollution is left untreated, it can double the risk of children getting the disease. According to a WHO study over 50% of deaths in children are caused by acute lower respiratory infections. This is mainly caused by burnt fuel byproducts being inhaled by the children aged 5 and below.
Stroke and Coronary Artery Disease
According to a WHO fact sheet, frequent exposure to indoor air pollution due to cooking with fuel can be attributed to nearly 25% of deaths caused by stroke. Moreover, an estimated million deaths, about 15% of total cases due to coronary artery disease, can also be attributed to exposure to indoor air pollution.
Prolonged exposure to indoor air pollution is attributed to 1/3 of deaths caused by progressive lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and severe asthma. According to the reports, women who are exposed to indoor smoke have higher risks of contracting these diseases compared to women who use clean fuel such as liquefied petroleum gas. In addition, men who smoke cigarettes double their risks of getting lung diseases simply by exposure to indoor smoke.
Cancer is already one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide. In 2015, lung cancer is responsible to about 1.69 million of 8.8 million total cancer-related deaths. In WHO reports, they estimate that 17% of annual deaths caused by lung cancer is again, attributed to prolonged exposure to indoor air pollution. Solid fuels such as coal, wood, and grains produce carcinogens that are harmful to our health. Women have higher risks of contracting the disease due to their role in food preparation.
Indoor Air Pollution Infographic