I recently attended the launch of Nippon Paint’s Indoor Wellness Programme and was rather surprised when I learned that INDOOR AIR is NOT as safe as we thought to be.
Apparently, we have been taking for granted that staying indoors is assuredly healthier than being outdoors, just because we are cosseted by walls and not directly exposed to the elements and polluted air outside.
But …did you know that air pollution can also take place indoors?
In fact, more than 60% of Malaysians are suffering from poor indoor air quality, right in their very own home! In other words, only 4 out of 10 live in a safe indoor environment.
And in their quest to urge Malaysian homeowners to take charge of improving their overall indoor air quality at home, an educational campaign aimed at cultivating holistic wellness was launched by Nippon Paint recently. The “Indoor Wellness Programme” consists of 2 main pillars – the Indoor Wellness Survey and the Indoor Wellness Guideline, which was developed in partnership with MSAI (Malaysian Society of Allergy and Immunology).
BELOW: Nippon Paint Indoor Wellness Programme Launch:
(L-R: Ms Gladys Goh, Group General Manager of Nippon Paint Malaysia Group and Dr Amir Hamzah, President of MSAI) officiating the launch of the Indoor Wellness Programme and marking Nippon Paint and the MSAI joint efforts in developing MSAI’s first-ever Indoor Wellness Guideline.
“The Indoor Wellness Guideline aims to educate Malaysians on the importance of healthy indoor air quality as part of leading a holistic healthy lifestyle,” Gladys said.
At the launch, Dr Amir (MSAI) highlighted a few key points of concern with regards to major indoor air pollutants and related health risks.
By now, we are certainly well educated about the standard outdoor pollutants which are primarily, but not limited to dust, wild fires, sea salt, coal-burning power and industrial plants, motor vehicles, plowed fields, road construction, unpaved roads and tobacco smoke.
On the contrary, awareness and understanding of indoor air quality and wellness (IAQ) is still very low.
Just switching on air filters and using air fresheners in our homes are not enough to protect us. There are other methods to consider when we wish to ensure that our indoor environment is as healthy as possible.
BELOW: Here’s an idea of what indoor air pollutants that may affect the occupants in your home:
How does it harm you and your family?
Consequences of poor IAQ (Indoor Air Quality)
- Increased potential for short- and long-term health issues
- Decreased comfort, performance, and attendance
- Accelerated deterioration and reduced efficiency of buildings and equipment
- Increased potential for school closings/relocations
- Strained relationships
Now, what can you do about it?
Given how poor IAQ affects healthcare in general, specifically allergy-related diseases, in Malaysia, the Indoor Wellness Guideline is critical and necessary in raising awareness of these issues. This guide will also provide practical steps and expert advice on ways to minimise or eliminate indoor pollutants.
This Indoor Wellness Guideline was developed based on insights garnered from a survey involving 511 respondents, which looked at the cleanliness of the respondents’ living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. From the survey, respondents were given an Indoor Wellness Score of Healthy, Unhealthy or Very Unhealthy.
Did you know that walls are the biggest surfaces at home and are the most prone to bacteria and dirt?
What’s interesting is that the survey found the kitchen to be the cleanest space at home while the unhealthiest spaces in the surveyed homes are the living room and bedroom, maybe because we generally do not clean our walls and floors often enough across the various spaces at home!
In fact, only 25% respondents clean their living room walls weekly, while more than 40% clean their bedroom walls only once a year or never– can you believe that? Amongst the cleanest spaces at home – the kitchen and the bathroom, the survey showed that slightly over half of respondents (52%) clean their bathroom walls weekly and 40% clean their kitchen walls weekly.
Overall, only 31% of respondents clean their bathrooms floors 3 to 4 times a week, despite 55% of respondents admitted to spotting mould in the area. Furthermore, more than 60% of respondents use scented products at home with the perception that it is beneficial for the areas, when actually, these products could actually release chemicals that cause the areas to appear dingy and grey and releases pollutants into the indoor air. This goes to show that there is a need to further educate and empower Malaysians to take charge of their overall health and wellness, including the wellness of their homes.
From the survey, the guideline also offers some practical and actionable tips to better manage IAQ like below.
Personally I found these nicely illustrated and colorful “cheat sheets” straightforward and easy to follow! Areas at home are sectioned into identifiable main rooms, with explanations on the types of indoor pollutants in the specific area and steps we can take to better improve our indoor wellness.
Here’s a Cheat Sheet on how we can make our kitchen a cleaner and healthier space to be in:
In conclusion, let’s work towards a healthier home by:
- Keeping the spaces at home clean
- Keeping the dietary habits balanced
- Keeping the exercises going
- Keeping the mind clear
- Keeping the body rested with enough sleep
- Keeping the peace
- Keeping these practices
1 Science Direct, Ten questions concerning air fresheners and indoor built environments, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132316304334