Guidelines for Summative Homework 1
Write no more than 1,500 words summary (excluding figures and reference list) based on the specific case study "The Impact of Indoor Pollution".
1. Identify the cause(s) of the problem?
2. Comment on the aetiology?
3. Outline the impact/effect(s) on the body?
4. Briefly describe the factors (physical, environmental and biological) acting as stressors?
5. Has the response to the problem been appropriate and adequate and, if applies, is there any guidance or regulation or protocol or initiative specific to the case (only one of these may apply to your case)?
6. Is there any evidence of human error or negligence (for example rules not followed, regulation ignored etc.)?
7. Could such a problem be prevented from happening, if yes how? 8. What lessons could be learnt from this specific case?
Remember that you need to include a complete reference list of the documents used to prepare your Q&A summary. In-text references are needed.
TITLE OF THE ASSIGNMENT: COOKING MAY TURN HOMES INTO TOXIC BOXES IF AIR POLLUTION
Air Pollution is a serious issue that has long-term detrimental effects on our health. Outdoor pollution due to vehicles, industries, and other sources is always talked about, but less attention is given to indoor air pollution. Data suggest that indoor air could be more polluted than outdoor air (Cincinelli & Martellini, 2017). This case study talks about indoor air pollution, primarily due to cooking.
Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor environment involves a combination of outdoor pollutants. Indoor quality of air has been significantly affected by the following causes:
Etiology of Indoor Air Pollution
There are various sources available for cooking purposes, involves wood, electricity, gas, etc., but each source may cause indoor air pollution. Like propane stove, natural gas emits formaldehyde, carbon mono oxide, etc., which are found to be toxic to people (Duflo et al., 2016).
Frying and cooking food at elevated temperature release air pollutants like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These pollutants are unhealthy to the eyes and lungs' health. The use of solid fuel for cooking produces fine particles of nitrous oxide and other harmful pollutants in a significant amount, impacting breathing ailments (Kaul et al., 2017). Fumes from the cooking fuel are harmful and affect health when they are inhaled during indoor cooking
Impact of Indoor Pollution on the Body
Exposure to polluted air via cooking may have an ill effect on women’s reproductive health as well as on their newborns and children. Exposure to indoor air pollution doubles the chances of acute lower respiratory infection and pneumonia, contributing to deaths among children below five years of age group (Kaul et al., 2017).
Furthermore, Pollutants due to cooking have distinct physical and chemical properties like aerosol compounds have a more significant toxicity effect than household gaseous compounds because their small size particles (solid or liquid) in the surrounding atmosphere have a remarkable penetration capability. These eliminated gaseous compounds more easily entered into our respiratory system, damaged lungs, and may also enter the blood circulation, leading to premature deaths (Manisalidis et al., 2020). Some of the common impacts of indoor pollution due to cooking are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lower respiratory disorder, cataract and cardiovascular disease. Smoke generated from biomass combustion contains carcinogens thus may also account for cancer especially lung cancer (WHO, 2021).
Factors Acting as Stressor
The primary physical factors of indoor air pollution involve temperature, building materials, tap water, etc., while soil consists of radium at a trace concentration. Indoor cooking contributes to a rise in temperature in an indoor area—building materials like stone, concrete, and brick cause indoor radon emission. By the usage of underground water, indoor radon can be released from the source of underground water and contains granite or other radium-bearing rock (Cincinelli & Martellini, 2017). Moreover, the small size of houses, improper ventilation, and lack of chimney hood also act as physical stressors.
Various environmental factors may be considered necessary for indoor pollution, such as; Indoor cooking (release of water vapor, gases, the vapor of oils into the indoor environment), inorganic and organic pesticides, volatile organic compounds (released from furniture, wooden composites), and outdoor pollution (humidity, moisture, vehicular and industrial emissions, etc.). These factors cause adverse health effects like short-term impact (eye irritation, dizziness, headaches, and nausea), respiratory problem, skin problems, and chronic impacts (allergy, cancer, asthma, and diabetes, etc.). (Cincinelli & Martellini, 2017)
The indoor environment contains biological pollutants like microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses), cockroaches, mites, and allergen. Raw cooking materials also provide nutrients for the growth of microorganisms and other organisms. Exposure to these biological agents may cause sensitization, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, other vector-associated diseases, and allergy, etc. (Guardian et al., 2017).
Appropriateness of the Response to the Air Pollution
Environmental factors like temperature, humidity also contribute to the release of organic pollutants (formaldehyde, benzene, etc.). The use of adequate measures that reduced the indoor pollutants are increasing the ventilation, use of electric cooking methods, use of hood, safe storage of raw and cooked food items, removal of the source, use of a dehumidifier, air conditioning, use of exhaust fan, reduction in all exposed surfaces by using the sealant and use of products as per the directions. Increase growth rate of population, limited access to resources, and increase the price of safe alternative fuel for cooking like liquefied petroleum gas influence the use of solid fuel like coal, charcoal, etc., resulting in a higher burden of adverse health outcomes.
How exceptional was the impact on the health of the population?
Globally, smoke from cooking fires is causing 3.8 million deaths each year. The major incidences are occurring in low-income and middle-income countries (WHO, 2021). Physical, environmental, and biological factors cause many types of diseases. Microbes cause respiratory infections, skin infections, allergies, and food poisoning. Physical agents cause irritability, allergy, and breathing problems, etc. Gases produced during cooking (CO, NO2, and particulate matter) causes short term and long term health hazards.
Is there any existence guidance/ regulation specific to the case?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), EPA, and many others agencies work for the regulation of indoor air quality through different programs Including this, Clean Air Act (CAA, 1970) indirectly improves indoor air quality via regulating the air pollutants in the outdoors. Moreover, asbestos demolition work practices and the EPA's planned control of VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions from consumers' products (Reitze & Carof, 1998), were also initiatives to improve the quality of indoor air. There are no enforceable standards for reducing indoor organic pollution in non-industrial establishments by EPA or any other agency in the USA (Indoor air quality, 2021). The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued general guidelines for indoor air quality by regulating household fuel combustion and suggested using clean fuel and technology for cooking and scientific assessment of energy systems (WHO, 2021). WHO also framed guidelines for reduced exposure to organic pollutants, microorganisms, and regulation of particulate matter in the indoor environment. Moreover, EPA has also implemented the guidelines to reduce formaldehyde emissions from wood products (EPA, 2019). Including this, the government should also focus on developing rules for proper manufacturing and installation of chimney hoods.
Evidence of Negligence
In the present scenario, there are various pieces of evidence of negligence on the part of inhabitants and the governing bodies. Firstly government should make clear and stringent rules specifically for indoor pollution due to cooking. Although, UN World Food Programme (WFP) is trying to provide safe food and cooking environment to 10 million people (UN news, 2014). More such initiatives are required. Secondly, people are neglecting the importance of chimney hoods and proper ventilation. Usually, people do not open their windows while cooking. Including this, there is negligence of high indoor temperature, deterioration of building material and negligence of storage of repair material. It is imperative to cook in a proper ventilated and clean place to create a healthy environment. Contrary to these, people in poorly ventilated houses use perfumes and scents like perfumes, air freshener, deodorants, etc., to control kitchen odors so that their house level of hygiene can be improved. However, such products are toxic or hazardous (Apte & Salvi, 2016).
Steps for prevention of such problems
Yes, the problem of indoor air pollution can be controlled up to some extent. As indoor air pollution has a significant impact on morbidity and mortality, most international organizations, governments, and non-government sectors have taken the initiative to make strategies so that indoor air pollution may reduce. Such as:
Lesson from the Case
The given case study is great learning for one and all. This study makes us realize that indoor air pollution, especially frying food and burning wood for cooking, is a big issue. For years outdoor pollution has been a synonym for air pollution, but it is high time to consider cooking as a significant contributor to indoor air pollution A report by Airtopia suggested that in UK approximately 50% homes have high indoor air pollution. Homes have high level of VOC and formaldehyde thus causing respiratory difficulties (Keegan, 2020). Thus, people should learn to clean the air hood regularly, check ventilation during cooking and use electric modes of cooking. Another meaningful learning is that exhaust hoods are not just part of aesthetics, but they are imperative for our health too. The authorities should also make stringent rules for indoor air pollution checks. Presently there are no standards to judge good exhaust hoods (Guardian et al., 2017). Thus, it becomes imperative to change the basic structure and system to minimize the detrimental effects of cooking.
Indoor cooking and Volatile organic compounds are a major indoor pollutant that are released from consumer products and building materials. Other factors such as the small size of houses, low ceilings, and inadequate ventilation also aggravate the level of pollution. Human exposure to these pollutants causes severe health hazards. There is requirement that regulatory bodies should conduct indoor pollution studies and frame the guidelines to control indoor pollution and associated hazards.