You don’t have to be asthmatic or diagnosed with any other bronchial condition before you are conscious of what your environment looks like; it is simply a responsibility to ensure your own health and safety, as well as that of every other persons around you. In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to overlook the importance of our environment on our overall well-being. Whether it’s our home, workplace, or community, the spaces we inhabit have a significant impact on our physical and mental health. Hence, the commemoration of the World Environment Day (WED), which is celebrated annually on June 5 and encourages awareness and action for the protection of the environment.
The day is set aside to spread awareness and promote action for the environment and the impact of climate change by all stakeholders, through initiatives such as clean-up campaigns, environmental awareness campaigns, seminars, conferences, and workshops. It’s crucial as individuals that we become aware of potential hazards in our environment and take proactive measures to create safe and healthy environments. Below are some key aspects that individuals must watch out for to ensure a conducive environment for themselves and others:
- Indoor air quality: The quality of the air we breathe indoors can have a profound effect on our health. Common pollutants like mold, dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and chemicals from cleaning products can cause respiratory issues, allergies, and other health problems. From time to time, ensure you inspect your home or workplace for water leaks, address mold promptly, keep the space well-ventilated, and use natural, non-toxic cleaning products to improve indoor air quality.
- Environmental allergens: Allergens such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and mold spores can trigger allergies and respiratory conditions. Regularly clean and vacuum your living spaces, office spaces, wash bedding in hot water, minimise the presence of indoor plants that may harbour allergens, and consider using air purifiers to reduce allergen exposure. Most especially in the raining season, we must be extra careful as breezy rain often carries pollen dust or even make seasonal allergies worse.
- Chemical exposure: We encounter numerous chemicals in our daily lives, from household cleaners and personal care products to furniture and building materials. Harmful chemicals like phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, and flame retardants can have long-term health effects. As individuals, we must be mindful of the products we use and opt for those that are labeled non-toxic, organic, or eco-friendly. Also, research alternatives to common household products that reduce chemical exposure without compromising effectiveness.
- Water quality: Water is an essential resource, and its quality directly impacts our health. Contaminated water can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses and other health problems. Regularly test the water quality in your home, especially if you rely on well water, and install appropriate filtration systems to remove contaminants. Avoid drinking from plastic bottles to reduce plastic waste and potential chemical leaching.
5. Ergonomics and physical safety: Improper ergonomics and safety hazards in our environments can result in musculoskeletal disorders and accidents. Ensure that your workspace and home are ergonomically designed to promote good posture and reduce strain on your body. Pay attention to proper lifting techniques, use non-slip mats in slippery areas, install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and keep walkways and stairs clear of clutter to prevent falls.