A Review of Indoor Air Pollution in a Typical Afghanistan's Household Environment

A Review of Indoor Air Pollution in a Typical Afghanistan's Household Environment

این مقاله را به زبان فارسی بخوانید (Read this article in Persian)

Indoors are places where people spend most of their time, approximately 87% to 93%, while in our society there are not that many emphases over the issue of indoor air pollution, this type of air pollution can exist in different indoor places like schools, universities, offices and our homes, however, this article focuses at the air pollution on houses, where people have the full control to take action and modify their living environment for better and healthier life experience. This kind of air contamination is more dangerous than ambient air pollution which is also known as outdoor air pollution, because of the high exposure rate that an individual can go through, moreover, in Afghanistan most of the times the effects of indoor air pollution on health is confused with the effects of other diseases, for instance, sneezing and coughing experiences,  headaches, and respiratory congestion caused by indoor air pollutants are getting confused with influenza, colds, and pneumonia, which is an obvious sign of public unawareness about interior air quality.

low air quality in a typical Afghan household environment is due to non-standard building designs with poor ventilation systems, inappropriate waste management, and lack of awareness about the effects of pollutants, the main indoor air contaminants in our typical houses can be categorized as biological, chemical, and suspended particles, for instance, biological sources like bacteria, molds, and animal feces due to the pet keeping culture domination, can be seen, while we use carpets for our house interior designs which could become a good environment for biological species responsible for production of harmful smells, therewith our bathroom and toilet sink drains are not in accordance with the required health standards, and they always produce hazardous gases which smells really unpleasant, also the trash can in our kitchen is another source of biologically produced gases, likewise, chemical sources play the worst role in this scenario, materials like sub standardized detergents produced without any inspection by health organizations in rural areas of Kabul or other provinces that we can see in the market, decorative materials like glues, and paints, can release chemical gases into the indoor environment, besides, we don't have a standardized HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system for our houses so we utilize fossil fuels like natural gas for heating, especially propane gas instead of methane due to propane's safe condensation in cylinders, which produces more carbon dioxide than other natural gas derivatives, on top of that our typical heating stoves and cooking ovens are not fully isolated to transfer burnt products like smoke, to the point where in some domiciles the whole room turns into chimney, which turns the inner air quality poisonous,  in addition, indoor air quality is affected by indoor smoking as well, which is common in Afghanistan, additionally brooming and sweeping tradition, outdoor dirt, dust penetration to the house, absorption and desorption processes between particles, molecules and surfaces are the primary sources of suspended particles in the indoor air environment.

The solution in long-term turns to comprehensive urban planning, and sophisticated building designs with better HVAC systems, where every planned building should take a construction allowance certificate from a local municipality authority regarding the overall constructing terms and conditions to be in accordance with national and international standards, while from an individual perspective, installing air conditioning systems, installing insulated fixtures like PVC windows, using vacuum cleaners instead of traditional sweeping tools, installing bathroom sink drains properly, better waste management, engaging in green energy production as well as making use of more pollution-free technologies for heating purposes like electricity, using medically proven non-harmful paints and other construction materials could help to reduce the indoor air pollution and its side effects to the indoor inhabitants.

Overall indoor air pollutants are abundantly available in our living environments, and they are causing severe health problems from respiratory complications to cancer, while the general knowledge of society about it is not so compelling, government, our medical society, and environmental experts need to work in co-operation with engineering sector, to begin an initiative in this regard, for a desirable outcome concerning it.