Thursday, September 22, 2016

Home Buying Guide – The Pollution Factor

A friend – who had recently moved into his newly bought posh home in an upmarket locality in the heart of town said that  he was relocating back to his modest old home in the suburbs. 

The reason – POLLUTION (especially NOISE POLLUTION)

He said he could not stand the traffic noise (especially the constant honking of horns) and night-life noise (there were plenty of restaurants, pubs etc and a mall-cum-multiplex located in the neighbourhood). 

This made me recall an article I had written a few years ago on the subject...


This Blog Post is Part 18 of my series of articles on Home Buying Tips titled ->

Are You Buying a Polluted House...?
Home Buying Tips from a Clueless Novice Self-Styled Property Guru – Part 18

I am a simple end-user novice and not an expert in Real Estate and these are my personal views. Please take my views with a pinch of salt and take your own views into consideration and do your own due diligence before you make any property purchase decisions.


There are many factors you consider while buying a house  in particular when selecting the location of your home


I am sure you take into account various exoteric aspects like:

1. Class and Type of Locality (Status Value, Snob Appeal and Standard of Living Factors)

2. Amenities, Facilities and Social Infrastructure (Quality of Life Factors)

3. Connectivity and Proximity to your Workplace, Children’s Schools, Marketplace, Closeness to Residences of Relatives and Friends, Public Transport and Commuting Time (Convenience Factors)

4. Financial Factors like Price, Affordability and Investment Merit (appreciation and rental value)

5. Reputation of the Builder and Developer and Quality of Construction (Reliability Factors)

6. Architectural and Design Facets (Aesthetic Factors


In addition to various exoteric factors  you may also consider some esoteric concepts like Vaastu Shastra Feng Shui etc while selecting your home.


But tell me  do you think of POLLUTION when you buy a house...?

Health is more important than Wealth, and pollution can affect your health. 

You can earn back lost money, but health once lost is lost forever. 

So while financial aspects like property rate and appreciation prospects are important, you must factor in the pollution aspect as well while making property buying decisions, especially if you are an end-user and from the long term perspective.


There are 9 types of Pollution you must consider while buying a home:










In a nutshell  let us see the sources and effects of each of the above types of Pollution relevant to the context of residential property.


Air pollution can be in the form of particulate matter such as dust or in the form of gases and vapours.

In cities  Vehicle Exhaust is the major cause of air pollution. With ever-increasing traffic, Diesel, Petrol and Gas Fumes are densely prevalent in urban areas.

Dust and Debris from ongoing construction work is a major source of air pollution especially in the newly developing suburbs of a city where extensive new construction, redevelopment or infrastructure building activity is in progress.

Air Pollutant Gases and Vapours may be present near Industrial Areas, Manufacturing Units, Distilleries, Chemical Factories, Steel Plants and Oil Refineries and even near places like crematoriums, brick kilns, Garbage Bins and Rubbish Dumps, Solid Waste Processing Units etc where items are burnt.

Air Pollution can seriously affect health, especially in children, causing and exacerbating various ailments, especially lung diseases and asthma.


Water pollution involves contaminated water, whether from chemical, particulate or bacterial matter that degrades water quality and purity.

When buying a house you must check up the source of water supply.

Is properly treated water from the municipal water treatment plant being supplied to the building or is it being sourced from bore-wells or some other place.

In Pune, there have been cases where possession of houses has been given without (or before) the connection of safe and treated potable water from the municipality.

In cases where the water is sourced from local or underground water bodies, soil pollution, infectious organisms and organic material decay may cause water pollution.

Water Pollution can also be caused by defects in plumbing (where sewage or contaminated water seeps into potable water lines).

The effects of water pollution on your health can be quite severe and cause diseases like jaundice.


Soil Pollution sources include Garbage Dumps, Hazardous Waste, Sewage Spills, Pesticides and Dumping during construction activity.

Soil Pollution degrades hygiene and exacerbates other types of pollution including air, water and olfactory pollution.


In Urban India, Noise Pollution is one of the most serious forms of pollution which is increasing at an alarming rate.

Sources of Noise Pollution include Road Traffic Noise, Air Traffic, Rail Traffic, Industrial Noise and irritating Noise created due to ongoing Construction Work.

In India, one of the main sources of Noise Pollution is Neighbourhood Noise.

Neighbourhood Noise can be due to proximity of Religious Places which may use loudspeakers for Devotional Music or Call for Prayers or during celebrations and festivities.

Noise Pollution due to Community Noise increases during the festivals, celebrations and marriages due to cracker bursting and loud music.

Marriage Halls, Recreation Grounds, Restaurants, Eateries, Liquor Shops, Bars and Discos, Night Life Entertainment Places, Cinema Halls, Educational Institutions like Schools and Colleges and Commercial Places are sources of Neighbourhood Noise too.

Living in a “Noisy Neighbourhood” can be a continuous irritant and annoyance which can affect your mood and take a toll on your health.

If your house is near a road, airport or railway line, be prepared for perpetual noise from various annoying sounds like honking of horns, flying aircraft, passage of trains and plying of vehicles.

If your house is near or above a parking lot or a busy road intersection, be prepared for unremitting house pollution.

In India, vehicular traffic is a big source of noise pollution.

Are you prepared to live in a noisy neighbourhood?

Or – do you desire to live in a calm and quiet place?

You must consider both present and future Noise Pollution while selecting your home.

Today the place may seem quiet  but as the area gets developed the noise level may increase tremendously.

Today’s quiet neighbourhood may turn into a place of chaotic cacophony.

In most cities in India, noise pollution levels in residential areas is way above the safe norm due to poor urban planning and in some areas the noise may reach hazardous levels.

Noise pollution affects both health and behaviour – noise pollution affects you physically and mentally and causes you stress and hypertension.

Noise Pollution can damage psychological health, cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects. Besides affecting your health and disturbing your peace of mind, Noise Pollution can seriously degrade your lifestyle.


Electromagnetic Pollution or Electropollution is a relatively new form of pollution.

Electropollution occurs due to Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) from various sources like Mobile Cell Phone Towers, Electricity (HT) Power Lines, Radar, Microwave and Various Communication Lines and Transmission Antennas that are proliferating in urban areas which create Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) around your house.

Ongoing studies indicate that Electropollution may be hazardous to health in many ways.

In the past, most transmission antennas were located outside the city limits far away from human habitation, but nowadays with the expansion of cities and due to modern wireless communication needs like mobile phones, internet and wi-fi we live in an increasingly “wired world” and have transmitters all around us.

The least you can do when you buy a house is to look around and see whether there are any Mobile Phone Transmission Towers, Transmitting Antennas or HT Power Pylons and Electricity Transmission Lines nearby.


Thermal pollution is excess heat that creates undesirable effects over long periods of time. Concrete Jungles due to Urban Sprawl is a major cause of Thermal Pollution in cities. It is also caused by Heat Emitting Devices like Airconditioners, Gensets, Electrical and Electronic Devices, Power and Refrigeration Plants and Air Pollution Particulates that trap heat and Deforestation.


Light pollution is garish over-illumination of an area that is considered obtrusive.

Sources of Light Pollution include illuminated signs and advertisement hoardings, Malls, Mulitplexes and Night Life Entertainment Places.

At night, stand in a place and look up at the sky. If you cannot see the stars in the sky clearly, it is indicative of light pollution.

In residential areas, light pollution can degrade your quality of life and affect your sleep.


Olfactory Pollution (Foul Smell, Unpleasant Odour, Disgusting Stench and Horrible Stink) can seriously affect your quality of life.

Smell the air in your house.

Go to your balcony and breathe in the air.

Does it smell pristine and pure?

There are many sources of odious and unpleasant smells like Disgusting Stench from Sewage Lines and Sewage Treatment Plants (STP), Nauseous Smell from Vapours due to Diesel and Gas Fumes from Petrol Pumps, Vehicles and Gensets, Toxic Smelling Industrial Odours, Perpetual Stench from Garbage Bins, Waste Processing Units and Rubbish Dumps, Repulsive Stink from Gutters and Drains, Putrid Vapours from Crematoriums and Burning Debris, Foul Odours from nearby vegetable, meat and fish markets etc

Here too you must consider the futuristic situation too and see what is coming up around the property in the future as the area develops.


Visual Pollution includes various “eyesores” and undesirable, unattractive views which spoil the landscape.

Visual Pollution affects the aesthetic value of a place and degrades the quality of life in certain areas.

In the premium high-end segment where home buyers pay for aesthetics, visual pollution can impact property values.  

Sources of visual pollution include anything obstructing or spoiling the view from your house like neighbouring constructions and buildings, debris, neglected and incomplete structures and abandoned buildings, advertisement hoardings, power lines and mobile towers, filthy environs and repelling surrounding areas and any such other “eyesores”.

While visual pollution may not have immediate health or environmental effects, it can affect your mood due the constant eyesores around you. After all, everyone wants a “room with a view”.


The Pollution Point of View Home Buying Mantra

From the pollution point of view it is always better to buy a ready-to-move-in house in a fully completed project in a built-up locality where all buildings and infrastructure are completed and ready.

Let me exemplify the above point and also tell you a bit about the various types of pollution with the help of a apocryphal hypothetical illustrative example.

“A” booked a house in a pre-launch scheme, even before construction had started.

He did this because he thought was getting the property at a lower rate.

Of course, he suffered time and cost overruns due to execution delays.

That is why they say that if you are an end-user who intends living in the house it is always better to “buy” a ready-to-move-in house rather than “book” a house in a pre-launch or under-construction project.

(Booking a house in pre-launch or under-construction stage may be a good idea if you are an investor looking only for appreciation. 

You are never going to live in the house and you may even sell it off before it is completed if you get the profit you desire. 

So you won’t be bothered with factors like Pollution unless this affects the property price or rental value)

When “A” booked the house the site was pristine tranquil quiet unpolluted place with pure air and a beautiful view and verdant cultivated fields all around. It was a perfect retirement paradise not far away and quite well connected to the city.

The project was delayed due to execution delays.

Since his retirement date was fast approaching, “A” was desperate to move into his house so he took possession and moved into his new home the moment his flat was ready (luckily his flat was in the first building of the project).

He moved into his flat while construction work continued full swing in the neighbouring buildings of the project due to which he suffered air pollution due the dust and debris and noise pollution due the noisy construction machinery. 

(“A” suffered asthmatic attacks and was driven crazy by the constant irritating noise which caused him mood swings).

The municipal water line had not yet been connected (since the project was not fully complete) so water was temporarily sourced from a borewell due to which “A” was subjected to water pollution and soil pollution

(“A” got a bout of jaundice due to this and his health was affected quite badly for a few months)

A Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) was soon commissioned under his flat and poor “A” was engulfed in the foul smelling stink 24/7 (Olfactory Pollution

(“A” felt claustrophobic as he had to keep his windows closed because of this terrible stink – despite this the foul odour from the STP was all pervading)

In due course, a mobile antenna tower cropped up in the adjacent plot opposite his balcony. “A” was thus subjected to Electropollution and also to Visual Pollution since the tower was an eyesore which spoilt the beautiful view.

Later, the place would turn into a dense concrete jungle (thermal pollution).

Soon, the place would be surrounded by commercial places, entertainment joints, hotels, lounge bars, restaurants and busy roads choked with traffic (further Noise Pollution, Air Pollution, Olfactory Pollution, Visual Pollution and Light Pollution)

“A” never imagined that his “dream house” which he had contemplated as a tranquil pristine “retirement paradise” home would turn out to be such a polluted house. 

He had never imagined that the all-pervading pollution would affect his health and lifestyle.

So  Dear Reader  if you are an end-user who intends to live in the house you want to buy, do consider the Pollution Factor along with all the other aspects. 

Do take a futuristic view of pollution, and remember, at least from the pollution point of view, it is better to buy a fully completed house in a well developed locality rather than book at the pre-launch or under-construction stage.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Revised and Abridged Repost of my article in Home Buying Series written more than 5 years ago in the year 2011 and posted online by me Vikram Karve in my blogs a number of times including at url:  and  and

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