With most of us spending the majority of our time indoors, esepcially in these last couple of years, it is essential to ensure a comfortable, productive, and healthy indoor environmental quality by following well-regulated parameters and design practices that consider temperature, lighting, noise pollution, proper ventilation, and the quality of the air we breathe.
The latter is especially important, since contrary to what we might think, air pollution is much higher indoors than outdoor.
Most people, when they think of air pollution, think of smog and car emissions or grey smoke from factories. This is what is called outdoor air pollution, but indoor air pollution is just as pervasive. Indoor air pollution occurs when pollutants from particles and gases contaminate the air of indoor areas. While the poor quality air is at least circulated outdoors, closed environments have particulate matter (PM10 and PM 2.5), viruses, and other outdoor pollutants that stay in the environment. These settle in the respiratory tract causing health issues. In the pandemic era, when people have started taking care of their health an extra notch, it's time for us to pay attention to this issue.
How designers and architecture can reduce indoor air pollution
Good architecture and design are the most important means of reducing and controlling the growth of indoor air pollutants.
Proper natural ventilation is one of the first considerations while designing a home. A well thought-out layout with a good orientation promotes an effective airflow through the space. Implementing a functional ventilation system indoors would contribute to the dilution of some pollutants.
Implementing smart mechanical ventilation/air-conditioning systems with proper filtration and heat/cold recovery is also effective. With natural ventilation, artificial indoor heating and cooling systems could be equipped with anti-pollution filters that would reduce the risk of higher pollution.
How plants can help you achieve clean air goals
Not to forget, one of the most helpful ways to mitigate the propagation of indoor air pollutants by going biophilic. A biophilic design not only promotes connecting the indoors and outdoors but also brings in the factor of using non-toxic modern materials that are purposely created for safe indoor constructions and use. Using green-labelled or health certified items is a factor of biophilic design to diminish indoor air pollution.
Plants have become a great way to remove indoor air pollutants. Some of the most effective plants are:
Amardeep Gulri is an interior designer and founder of the New Delhi-based interior design firm Deco-Arte.