If anybody were to undertake a ‘Delhi Darshan’, apart from witnessing the fantastic monuments and scenic spots one would inevitably be greeted by the ominous ‘Pradushit Vaayu’ (PV) also known as ‘Air Pollution’. PV hits a record high every winter. Dangerously though, PV isn’t restricted to outdoor air. The confines of your home, office and even your car are not without its own concoction of PV. Be it the humble Maruti 800 or the latest Lamborghini, all fail when it comes to battling PV in Delhi. It would be wise then for every person to take note of the following causes of indoor car pollution and the ways to reduce it so as to avoid a stroke or debilitating heart or brain seizure;
- Car Service is not totally safe; Car servicing involves coating the dashboard, door handles, steering wheel, seat handles and glove box etc with varnish. If possible, go for organic varnish made of natural substances like orange, lemon, tree extracts or insist on non-VOC varnish instead of chemicals like benzene and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Check the polish buckets and cans for VOC levels. Ideal VOC range is b/w 5-50gm/litre of paint/polish can. Anything beyond this must be avoided.
- Avoid the Sun as far as possible; Try parking your car within a shaded area since under direct sunlight, VOCs react with nitrogen oxides emitted from vehicles to form ozone, which in turn helps the formation of fine particulates. Delhi gets on an average 250 days of sunshine every year. If your car is parked outside on a sunny day, then emission levels of the VOC polish can hit more than 200 μm which is lethal for humans and can cause cancers.
- The perfume may become the death of you; Scented candle stands and car deodorants are known to be potential carcinogens. Before buying a car perfume, you must check the contents of the perfume. If the perfume contains more chemicals and preservatives instead of natural flower or fruit extracts, avoid it all costs. On a greener side, you can hang a sandalwood or crushed flower extracts wrapped in a cloth on your rear view mirror. These can be periodically changed with little to no side effects.
- Keep a check on the AC; While using the AC has become a common norm during summers and winters, it may not always be successful in ensuring that the in-car environment remains pollutant free. Though the AC may make the in-car air relatively clearer compared to outside air, there is currently no AC in the market that can filter incoming PM 2.5 from outside. This doesn’t mean that the AC shouldn’t be used but instead must be used prudently. In a severely dusty area, the AC’s efficacy may go down. Try using a less choked road when driving, roll down windows when the air pollution is minimal and if nothing works, use public transport.
Individual steps, such as the ones mentioned above, can help in severely controlling air pollution in the long run. Besides governmental action, personal endeavours too can make a meaningful difference.