A Day in our Homes through a Microscope

Have you ever wondered how it would be if we could see the micro particles that float around us? Bet me, you wouldn’t want to! Not even those which occupy our homes! Ask me why!

P.S. I have created a doodle video on the topic. Please click on the link given below to view the video (on the Goanimate website).

A Day in our Homes through a Microscope

To make the video, I used the Goanimate platform on a free-trial subscription. That means, my video is subject to disappearance anytime soon, once the free-trial period gets over. As an old retiree, I have no plan to pay for the premium subscription 😦 However, I have captured the images of each of the video frames, for a keepsake of my creativity, idea, hard work, interest……whatever! The images you see below are individual frames from the whole whiteboard presentation video. Psst…psst…this is my first-ever try on an animation work, so please bear the result 🙄

So, let me take you through a day’s routine of a family of five. Here, I introduce, Rithul. Rithul is three and goes to preschool. So, you know well, all that a three year old is capable of, don’t you? His little sister, mom, dad and granny are the other people who stay at their home together. Did I miss out Kitty- their pet cat? C’mon, let’s sneak into their house!

7.00 am

Rithul wakes up in the morning with something disturbing his sleep. His nose feels stuffy and eyes look watery.

8.00 am

Rithul’s mom is making breakfast in the kitchen. She has been having mild headaches for quite a while now, mostly when she is in the kitchen. Why could it be?

8.30 am

Rithul’s dad is reading a newspaper in the sit-out. Wait, W-a-i-t…..Achoooooo! And then a train of Achooooos..! The grandmom, sitting near him, isn’t sneezing though 🙄 Why?

9.00 am

Dad is leaving to office. He opens the main door and starts coughing. “Argh! Once we step out of home, it’s all dusty!” Well, may be not!

10.00 am

Little sister, up from her sleep, begins to cry loudly. Mom rushes to the room and finds her scratching her neck behind. “Oh Ghosh! Where did these red sores come from?!”

11.00 am

Mom is back in the kitchen to prepare lunch. She hears loud music from the neighbor house through the atrium. “What nuisance these bachelor guys are!” Her headache gets bad now and so, she closes the window that opens out to the atrium. “Ah, how relieving!” But in a little while, her headache worsens. Why?

12.00 pm

Rithul is back from school. He plays with Kitty. When mom calls him for lunch, both hop straight onto the dining place. Did you notice? Yes, he didn’t wash his hands, hmm?!

1.00 pm

After lunch, Rithul plays Jumping Jacks on the bed until he gets tired and dozes off to sleep.

2.00 pm

Rithul begins to cough, quite severely, and wakes up. Bah! Again, stuffy nose and red eyes!

6.00 pm

It’s getting darker. Time for mosquitoesssss! Grandmom closes all the windows to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.

8.00 pm

Granny comes back home after a walk. She feels healthy, but is she carrying home something unhealthy?

10.00 pm

It’s bedtime for the family. But not for the Cockroaches! Hey! They are on a brisk stroll all around the kitchen.

Coughing, sneezing, skin sores, headaches……Holy Cow! What could be so bad lurking around their home atmosphere? Let’s find it with a microscope!

Yay! Isn’t that some fun?! C’mon, let’s redo the day at Rithul’s home through a microscope. Game?

When Rithul woke up, there were tiny dust mites around the bed. He has been inhaling these for a while now and …, yes, you got it, that’s how the stuffy nose and watery eyes were triggered.

When mom was cooking in the kitchen, the combustion process from the gas stove was letting out gases, mainly, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide and Formaldehyde. Remember, the headache she had? Makes sense.

When dad was reading the newspaper, skin flakes from Kitty’s body called pet dander, had formed a boutique near him. Also, the man living downstairs was smoking a cigar, giving rise to a volcano of smoke near the sit-out. What an allergic boutique! Inhaling cat dander and cigar smoke, Dad’s respiratory system was working hard to throw them away, hence causing the train of sneezes. Wait a minute, wasn’t grand mom sitting near him too? Yes, though she too inhales her share of Kitty’s dander and the cigar smoke, her immune system does not trigger an allergy in her. Hmm…strong lady, uh?!

When dad opened the main door to step out to office, all the caught-up allergens gushed out making dad cough. Caught-up allergens? Yes, according to the plan of the house, the main door is the only ventilation on the North side of the house. So, though air enters and exits through windows on the South side of the house, the overall ventilation is not effective enough to carry allergens away. As a result, those allergens which were circulating within the house without scope to escape out, gushed out when the main door was opened. So, after all, it was the indoor air that was dusty, uh? Poor dad!

Ouch! Dust mites were disturbing the little girl’s skin by causing red sores on her neck. Yes, the same bad guys who attacked Rithul’s respiratory system in the morning.

In order to get some relief from the loud noise, mommy closed the only way out for the gases in the kitchen – the window to the atrium. Do you see that the gases have become denser? Of course, how else can they get away?! No wonder her headache worsened.

Kitty had passed a lot of cat dander during his playtime with Rithul. Now that Rithul is full of cat dander all over, he is sure to breathe and eat a bunch of them.

Rithul had fun jumping on the bed. But the poor boy was oblivious to the hundreds of dust mites that were hiding in the mattress and pillows. Alas! He has opened them all to the outside. What are these bad guys going to do now?

With a large gathered party, they had fun attacking Rithul’s lungs. And he is up again with cough, quite severe this time.

Grandmom was aware of the dangers that mosquitoes can cause. How rightly, she closed all the windows! However, she wasn’t aware of the dangers that the pollutants trapped inside the house can cause. Do you see a parade of a mixture of pollutants?

Back from her evening walk, granny has carried some allergic pollens from the garden. Now that the house is devoid of ventilation in the night, they will circulate in the home, triggering allergy.

Life through a microscope is indeed disgusting, isn’t it? In fact, what we saw was just a random day of one random family. And this isn’t fiction nor something that happens to somebody in some part of the world. It DOES happen in most of our homes! Unknown to many, home air is 5 times more polluted than the outside air.

To reiterate the message from Ritul’s home,  here’s a quick list of sources of pollutants in our homes and the health risks they pose:

Harmful Gases: Gas stoves and heaters emit gases like Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide and Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is released by chemicals used in pressed wood furniture. These gases cause headache, nausea, dizziness and disorientation in the longer run. Radon is a ground water contaminant, posing a high risk of lung cancer. Certain organic gases, widely called as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are let off from several household objects, to name a few, paints, pesticides, permanent markers and cleaning supplies. Their effects are similar to the other harmful gases.

Biological particles: Asthma, respiratory allergies like allergic rhinitis, bronchitis and pneumonia can be caused by biological pollutants.

  • Molds that grow under damp conditions on the walls and furniture surfaces
  • Dander, saliva and urine from pets living indoors
  • Bacteria and viruses that are carried by people, animals and things from outside
  • Dust mites that grow on beds, curtains, couches, carpets, stuffed toys
  • Antigens and droppings left by cockroaches
  • Pollen from plants

Tobacco Smoke: Cigarette smoke inhaled by smokers and people around can cause cancer, in addition to respiratory problems like bronchitis and pneumonia.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t get to see with our eyes, any of the air pollutants we talk about. How then, in the first place, do we access our indoor air quality? 

Look for one or more of the following health signs.

Image Credit: theairqualityexperts.ca

Yes, looks like you have a few symptoms from the above?!

There is much we already know how to maintain our homes clean. Dust regularly, clean this, clean that, be hygienic, wash, wipe, bath……well, well, well, we all do it! But let me tell you what we all are ignorant about. 

Keep your house well-ventilated

Most of the indoor air issues can be managed by making way for good ventilation. To begin with, understand how the doors and windows in your house are positioned to facilitate ventilation. The image below is a good guide to understand cross ventilation.

Image Credit: southernathena.com

Make a note of the following simple tips:

  • Keep the doors and windows open during cooking, if not at other times.
  • Remove wardrobes, furniture and dressing tables that might be blocking windows.
  • Fix mosquito nets over the windows instead of keeping the windows closed in the night time.
  • Install chimneys over gas stoves to protect yourself from CO pollution.
  • When air conditioners are not in use, remember to keep the room windows open.
  • If constructing a house, study the ventilation possibilities thoroughly before fixing doors and windows.

Make a check-list for periodic home cleaning

Well, our daily routines keep us busy for the entire day, that house cleaning (to the point of eradicating the pollutants) is mostly put for later. That is why it is helpful to follow and maintain a chart like the one below: (Search for more such check-lists or make a custom one).

Image Credit: vertex42.com

Paint your walls with Royale atmos

Use a wall paint like Asian Paint’s Royale Atmos to reduce the formaldehyde emission by wooden furniture. You ask me how? Here’s how Royale Atmos can enhance indoor air quality in our homes.

Grow indoor plants

Some of us might like to grow plants in our homes for the love of plants or for aesthetic purposes. However,  not known to many, a few plants have the ability to neutralize the harmful effects of indoor pollutants. Here are a few for your reference. Make an in-depth study of such plants to get benefited by their presence in your home.

Image Credit: whatsuplife.in

Keep your pets well-groomed

It does require a little effort and commitment for both of you to remain healthy – you and your pet! Remember that your pets’ hygiene is as important as that of anybody’s in the house. Said the allergies and other health risks that pet sheds pose, stick to the following good practices at all times:

Image Credit: menards.com

Check for dust mites in your house

It is just a figure of speech because practically we cannot check dust mites as they are microscopic. Once entered, dust mites don’t go away from our homes. However, we can keep their count reduced in order to prevent dust mite allergy by practicing the following tips:

  • Keep mattresses, carpets, curtains and upholstery vacuum cleaned regularly.
  • Wash beddings in hot water or alternatively, keep them inside a freezer for 2 days (within a plastic bag). Remember to wash them soon after to clean the dead remnants.
  • They thrive on humidity. So, use a humidifier in the bedroom if the climate in your place is too humid.
  • Educate children not to jump over beds and couches. It can aggravate the air with increased dust mite population.

Don’t forget the late night visitors – Cockroaches!

In urban homes, cockroaches are an everyday battle. They mainly get their way through into our homes from drainage covers and our left-over food are their happy meals. Below is a live video of a cockroach sniffing food that was left uncleaned from our sofa. This is what our carelessness and laziness can lead to! If you have ever fought the cockroach war, you would know how no matter what you use – sprays, chalks, powders – they seem like indestructible creatures.

  • In the first place, let your kitchen shine before you hit bed, lest these creatures will shine their reign over our existences.
  • If you sense their presence, spray anti-cockroach sprays on the kitchen and bathroom drainage covers before going to bed. But remember to clean the surfaces in the morning.
  • Search for modern anti-cockroach traps like one way drainage covers, electronic traps etc.

Because, clean air makes not only beautiful homes but also a beautiful life through a microscope!

 

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