Dubai: Falling sick almost every other month has been the norm for Filipino couple Dave and Aiza Domingo despite their healthy eating habits and proper hygiene.
“I suffer from a sore throat every two to three months and, whenever I go to the doctor, the doctor says to me that it’s a severe infection. I usually have rhinitis, too,” Aiza, a photographer, told Gulf News.
“Whenever we’re dusting the floor, I usually start sneezing like 20 times non-stop and then after that colds and a cough follow,” Dave said.
The couple cleans their one-bedroom flat in Deira almost every day but is dumbfounded as to how dust finds its way inside the house immediately after. Both have allergic rhinitis but their 18-month-old son, Noah, is perfectly healthy.
Gulf News collaborated with Enviro and Industrial Solutions ME (EIS) to test the indoor air quality of the Domingo household and determine if it has, in any way, an effect on their living conditions.
Just five minutes into the eight-hour testing period, the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels already spiked at more than 2,500 parts per million, more than thrice the Dubai Municipality standards at 800ppm.
This initial finding prompted resident expert and business development manager Amir Ali Mansouri of EIS to inspect the four AC vents, only one of which circulates air from outside to inside.
Mansouri pointed to the visible red flags that are compromising the household’s air quality: the humidifier in the cupboard, a section where the cleaning agents that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are stored, and the cramped kitchen with an exhaust system that barely works.
The eight-hour test results confirmed Mansouri’s observation. The VOCs in the Domingo household were above the standard at an average rate of 349ppm, peaking at 2,084ppm. Humidity levels inside the house did not fulfil municipality standards as well.
The level of particulate matters that cannot be filtered naturally by the nose raised concerns as the couple has allergic rhinitis.
“This is quite alarming because the most important thing you want in your house is fresh air to breathe, even though you’re indoors,” Dave said.
“I think we need to know the proper steps to enjoy clean air inside the house, for us and especially for our baby,” he added.
The couple was given recommendations to improve their indoor air quality such as using air cleaners and replacing their air filters, increasing their fresh air intake daily by opening windows a few minutes daily, and reducing the use of household chemicals, among others.
The red flags
CO2 levels: More than 2,500ppm (parts per million).
(DUbai Municipality standards: 800ppm).
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs released by chemical cleaning agents): 2,084ppm
Average rate: 349ppm.