Prenatal or Postnatal: Air Pollution Is A No-No, Indoor Or Outdoor!
Created by Dr Shipra Mathur Updated on Oct 27, 2020
Pollution can never be less harmful to you and your baby at any stage of life. From creating reproductive issues to bringing in developmental problems in your child, and from causing issues in the eyes, lungs and throat to causing early asthma problems – pollution, be it indoors or outdoors are no good for the mother and the child (even during prenatal stages).
When we say air pollution, we mostly think of common pollutants like smoke and dust. However, there are some not-so-obvious ones lurking around us that are silently harming our health every day. Have you heard of cooking gas, disinfectants, cigarette smoke, pollen, and volatile organic compounds? Yes, these are all silent devils that dwell inside our homes.
What Is Pollution?
In simple words, it is the presence of harmful substances in the air that can affect breathing and harm our health. And it is not just cars and construction sites that are harming our lungs; ACs, refrigerators, paints, household cleaners and many such indoor elements are creating more harm to us than we can imagine.
The Indoor Enemy
- Dust: dust is the most common type of indoor air pollutant. It is mostly found on carpets, soft toys, mattresses, curtains, door mats, bookshelves and more. Dust particles are pretty much everywhere, even in seemingly clean houses.
- Pollen: pollen can be an indoor allergen too. It can get into homes through open windows and doors, and from indoor plants as well. Moreover, pollen can be carried inside your home through your clothes too.
- Mold: it is a fungus that looks like fuzzy green, grey or black spots and is often found in damp bathrooms, carpets, air conditioners and humidifiers.
So, dust, pollen and mold can trigger allergic reactions like a runny nose, red eyes, sore throat, coughing or wheezing. With constant exposure, you and your child are therefore more likely to suffer from allergic rashes, headaches and asthma attacks.
Moving on, there is something called the ‘combustion pollutants’ - such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide that is released from burning wood, kerosene and charcoal in stoves, fireplaces and heaters (now less in urban homes). Even minimal exposure can cause health problems for mom and baby.
Also, carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that comes from stoves, gas water heaters, cigarette smoke and car exhaust. It is called a silent killer as you cannot taste, smell or see it; but it certainly reduces your lifetime, bit by bit.
Similarly, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are quite dangerous too. These organic compounds are present nearly everywhere — from cleaning products to paint, and to cosmetics – the list is quite large. They get released into the air as gases and are linked to childhood asthma.
Even cleaning products have a lot of substances and chemicals in them like solvents (that dissolve things), acids and fragrances. Some of these alone can be dangerous, and some become harmful when mixed together.
Additionally, did you know paint fumes are gases that come from paint and these fumes can be dangerous to you and your baby during pregnancy? Exposure to any kind of paint (oil-based or water-based, also called latex) fume can cause headaches and fatigue.
The Outdoor Enemy
- Particulate matter: these are the most common ones; and are made up of particles of dust, ash, soot, fumes and the likes. Moreover, the smallest particles are said to be the most dangerous ones as they can enter the lungs more easily.
- Ozone: ground-level ozone comes from car exhaust, gasoline and fumes from factories and chemicals. When ozone mixes with other pollutants, it becomes ‘smog’ - which when thick reduces our ability to see.
- Second-hand tobacco smoke: this is the smoke that lingers on smokers, their clothes and is a significant problem even if you don’t smoke yourself.
Air pollution can thus come from varying sources and impact our health considerably. It primarily affects the eyes, throat and lungs. These symptoms can be worse if you have asthma or other lung problems.
While it may not be possible to avoid all pollutants, it’s important to know and recognize them and how they may affect our health. None of this information is meant to scare you; instead, it’s aimed at increasing your awareness so that you can take necessary steps to reduce your child’s health risks.
| Nov 08, 2017
Delhi's air quality index has crossed safe limits. children are not safe so are our elderly, pregnant women, ailing people and not even pets. The data is disturbing and calls for immediate action not just on paper but in real life. If NOTHING is done quickly and smartly , it can prove to be fatal especially for people with low immunity. Many Thanks Dr. Mathur for bringing up this issue. APT timing , pertinent topic and wonderful tips. thanks again.