Air (Vayu) – Hygiene

VAYU – AIR (वायु)

Purva Vayu Guna (पूर्व वायु के गुण)                  

Air blowing from the east direction has the following characteristics:

Guna: Guru, Snigdha 

Rasa: Madhura, Lavana 

Dosha: Rakta, Pitta Karaka

Yogya Vyakti: Vataja Prakriti, Alpa Kapha Dosha

Ayogya Vyakti: Kaphaja Prakriti, Kshata Ksheena, Visha

Dakshina Vayu Guna (दक्षिण वायु के गुण)

Air blowing from the south direction has the following characteristics:

Guna: Laghu

Rasa: Madhura, Kashaya 

Dosha: Rakta, Pitta Shamaka

Yogya Vyakti: Netraroga, Ksheena Vyakti (emaciated)

Pashchima Vayu Guna (पश्चिम वायु के गुण)

Air blowing from the west direction has the following characteristics:

Guna: Ruksha, Parusha, Khara, Sneha, Balanashaka

Dosha: Kapha & Medha Shoshana

Uttara Vayu Guna (उत्तर वायु के गुण)

Air blowing from the north direction has the following characteristics:

Guna: Snigdha, Mridu, Shita

Rasa: Madhura, Kashaya 

Dosha: Does not affect the Dosha much

Yogya Vyakti: Visha roga;

It increases Kleda & Bala and leads to Dhatu Ksheena in healthy individuals.

Vayu Karya & Dushita Vayu Karya

Vayu Karya

Kindling of fire, movement of Surya, Chandra, Nakshatra and Graha, creation of clouds, showering rain, flowing of rivers, maturity of flowers and fruits, germination of seeds, development of plants, classification of seasons, causes dryness, hardness and transformation.

Dushita Vayu Karya

– Kasa, Shvasa, Vamathu, Pratishyaya, Shiroruja, Jvara, etc.
– Breaking of mountain peaks, uprooting trees, disturbing the ocean, overflowing of lakes, changing the course of rivers, earthquakes, thunders, storms, clouds, disturbance of the six seasons, spread of epidemics, etc.

 Vayushuddhiprakara (Purification of air)

According to Sushruta Samhita

– Laksha, Haridra, Ativisha, Abhaya, Harenu, Ela, Valka, Kustha, Priyagu are used in the form of Dhuma.
– Karpura, Devadaru, Dhup, Chandana, Shreevasa, Sarja, Agaru, Nimba, Somaraji, Gandhaka, Guggulu are used in Havana.
– Burning drugs like Nagakeshara, Jati, Patola, Nimba, Bilva, Nirgundi, Kamala, etc.
– Agnihotra is done for purification of the atmosphere. It fills the atmosphere with beneficial nutrients and purifies it.

It has catalytic effects in the atmosphere and helps rest natural cycles so as to attain the vital harmony and equilibrium.
The atmosphere created by performing this ritual is highly appropriate for practicing other spiritual disciplines.

Furthermore, Agnihotra may also be used for medicinal purpose or for purifying water resources.

According to Astanga Sangraha

1) Dupana Karma
Guggulu, Agaru, Sarjarasa, Vacha, Gorasa, Sarshapa, etc. are used in Dhupana Karma to clean the vitiated / impure air.

2) Raksha Karma
Continuous Dhupana Karma with Kantotaka, Trivritta, Vacha, Kustha, Sarshapa, etc. helps to purify & protect the air.

3) Graha Roga Adhikara
Dhupana with Vacha, Bhallataka, Kustha, Ghrita, Sarshapa, Nimba patra, Siddharthaka, etc. helps to remove impurities of the air along with the Graha Dosha.


Composition of Air

Air is a mechanical mixture of gases.
The normal composition of air by volume is approximately:

78.1%      :-      Nitrogen

20.94%    :-     Oxygen

0.9%         :-    Argon

0.03%       :-    Carbon dioxide

The remaining balance is made up of other gases which occur in traces like Neon, Krypton, Xenon, Sulphur dioxide, Hydrogen, Nitrogen dioxide & Helium.

In addition, air also contains water vapours, traces of ammonia & suspended matter such as dust, bacteria, spores & vegetable debris.

Air Atmosphere

1) External Atmosphere

2) Internal Atmosphere

Agents affecting the atmosphere:

i) Physical agents – Temperature, Humidity, Wind velocity,


ii) Chemical agents – Dust, soot, smoke, other organic & inorganic                              


iii) Biological agents – Bacteria, viruses, etc.

Air Impurity

Air is rendered by:
– Respiration of men & animals
– Combustion of coal, gas, oil, etc.
– Decomposition of organic matter
– Radioactive dusts and isotopes
– Trade, traffic & manufacturing processes

Self-cleansing mechanisms:

  • Wind :  Dilutes & sweeps away the impurity by its movement.
  • Sunlight : Atmospheric temperature & sunlight oxidize the impurities and kills bacteria.
  • Rain : Cleanses atmosphere by removing the suspended and gaseous impurities.
  • Plant life :   Green plants utilize CO2 and generate O2; vice versa at night.


Air of Occupied Room

Chemical changes:

  • Air becomes progressively contaminated by CO2, and O2 content decreases due to metabolic processes.
  • An average person at rest gives 0.7 c. ft. per hour & during physical activity may be up to 2 c. ft. per hour.
  • In a mixed gathering, the per capita output of CO2 is taken as 0.6 c. ft. per hour.

Physical changes:

  • Rise in temperature; indoor temperature tends to rise due to  emanation of body heat.
  • Increase of humidity; due to moisture evaporated from skin & lungs. The expired air contains about 6% of water vapor.
  • Decrease in air movement; in crowded places the natural movement of air is impeded. – Body odours; Unpleasant odours arise from foul breath, perspiration, bad oral hygiene, dirty clothes, etc.
  • The production of body odours depends upon social status, age & personal hygiene.
  • Bacterial pollution; Exhaled air contains microorganisms in suspension which are principally saprophytic and may include pathogenic bacteria.
  • The organisms are discharged into the air during conversation, coughing, sneezing, loud talking, etc.

Thermal Discomfort & Comfort Zones

  • Thermal discomfort is a subjective sensation which people experience in ill-ventilated and crowded rooms.
  • Discomfort may be caused due to temperature, humidity, air movement or heat radiation.
  • These factors determine the cooling power of the air with respect to the human body.

Comfort zones:

  • A comfort zone is the range of effective temperature over which the majority of adults feel comfortable.

Considering only the environmental factors, comfortable thermal conditions are those under which a person can maintain normal balance between production & loss of heat, at normal body temperature & without sweating.

Comfort zones evaluated in India:

  • Pleasant & cool                   :         20°C
  • Comfortable & cool            :         20-25°C
  • Comfortable                        :         25-27°C
  • Hot & Comfortable            :         27-28°C
  • Extremely hot.                    :         > 28°C 
  • Intolerably hot.                  :          > 30+

Air Pollution

The term air pollution signifies the presence of substances in the surrounding atmosphere generated by the activities of man.

It affects human health, safety and comfort and injures vegetation, animals and other environmental media.

This in turn results in chemicals entering the food chain or being present in drinking water and therefore causes additional damage to humans.

Major air pollutants, sources and adverse effects:

       Noxious Agent           Sources       Adverse Effects
Oxides of Nitrogen Automobile exhaust, Gas stove and heaters, Wood burning stoves, Kerosene space heaters Respiratory tract irritation, Bronchial hyperactivity, Impaired lung defenses
Hydrocarbons Automobile exhaust, Cigarette smoke Lung cancer
Ozone discomfort, Sulphur Dioxide Automobile exhaust, Power plants, Smelters, Oil refineries, Kerosene space heaters Cough, Asthma, COPD, Respiratory tract irritation, Hospitalization may be necessary; death may occur in case of severe exposure

Prevention and Control of Air Pollution

WHO recommended the following procedure for the prevention & control of air pollution:

1) Containment: It is prevention of escape of toxic materials into the ambient air. It is achieved by engineering methods such as enclosure, ventilation and air cleaning.

2) Replacement: It is the replacement of a technological process causing air pollution by a new process that does not. Increased use of electricity in place of coal has greatly helped in smoke reduction.

3) Dilution: It is valid so long as it is within the self-cleaning capacity of the environment. E.g.: Some air pollutants are readily removed by the vegetation.

The establishment of green belts between industrial and residential area is an attempt at dilution.

4) Legislation: Air pollution is controlled in many countries by suitable legislation; e.g.: Clean air acts; Govt. of India enacted The Air (prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1981

5) International action: To deal with air pollution on a world wide scale, WHO has established an international network of laboratories for the monitoring and study of air pollution.

The network consists of two international centers at London and Washington, three centers at Moscow, Nagpur and Tokyo and 20 laboratories in various parts of the world.

Disinfection of Air

1) Mechanical ventilation: Reduces vitiated air and bacterial density.

2) UV radiation: Effective in situations such as operation theaters and infectious diseases wards.

UV lamps are shaded and kept in the upper portion of the rooms near the inlet of air as direct exposure of eyes to and skin causes damage.

3) Chemical mists: Triethylene glucol vapous are effective air bactericides, especially against droplet nuclei and dust.

4) Dust control: Application of oil to floors of hospital wards reduces the bacterial content of the air.

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