The last few years have seen air quality index (AQI) level rise drastically in India with Delhi NCR being one of the worst cities in this regard, and the focus has often been on the air quality outside homes. There has also been an ever-growing popularity of air purifiers, especially in the winter season when the air quality declines drastically, both outside and inside our homes. And when it comes to air purifiers, the focus is often on PM2.5 and PM 10 particles, which are considered the most harmful. But there’s more to air pollution than just PM2.5 or PM10, as a recent study by Dyson showed.
According to the study done by Dyson in partnership with SGS China, which is an independent advanced testing firm, the indoor air quality for Delhi NCR homes using Dyson products has several harmful pollutants inside ranging from Formaldehyde to mould to dust to bacteria. Dyson relied on the dirty filters from its air purifiers to gauge the exact nature of pollutants inside Delhi homes. It should be noted that the study was limited to 12 homes in the Delhi NCR region, and the filters were collected after three to five months of usage.
The key findings of the study were as follows:
Formaldehyde: Some of the household items such as pressed wood products, antiseptics and cleaning agents, carpets, permanent press fabrics, cigarettes, cosmetics, paints, and varnishes emit formaldehyde. “Formaldehyde off-gassing is not a one-off problem. Many household items continue to give off formaldehyde for a long period of time. The study found the average quantity of formaldehyde to be 169.1 mg/kg, while the maximum value in a home was found to be 649 mg/kg,” the research said.
Dust Mites: These microscopic dust mites feed on dead skin cells and can contain highly-allergenic proteins that can trigger asthma and other allergic conditions when inhaled. The study said, “maximum value of dust mite allergen concentration from the 12 samples collected was found to be 98.00 ng/g, while the average was 41.48 ng/g.”
Mould: Aspergillus mould is commonly found wherever there is dampness in the house. The study said that mould sends out “millions of spores that are carried in the air we breathe”.
Bacteria: According to the research amongst over 1000 genus of bacteria, over 161 genus of bacteria were found in all homes of Delhi. These mostly include Streptococcus bacteria and Micrococcus bacteria. The Streptococcus bacteria is an airborne bacteria that is mostly spread by coughs and sneezes, whereas, Micrococcus bacteria normally found in skin microflora.
Dyson said that these are particles found inside all homes from where these filters were collected and tested. The research reveals that formaldehyde was found in 91 per cent of homes, 161 genus of bacteria found in 100 per cent of homes, and common pollutants found inside homes.
The study also revealed the presence of ultra-fine pollutants inside all Delhi-NCR homes tested. “It was found that the air we breathe at home can contain large amounts of indoor pollutants which can have an impact on people’s wellbeing. These indoor pollutants include formaldehyde, bacteria, pollen, mould spores, dust mites, pet hair, and dead skin cells,” the study said.