Your home is almost certainly the place where you feel at your most relaxed and most comfortable, and yet there are all sorts of hidden dangers lurking in some of the most unexpected of places. We all know that most accidents happen in the home rather than at work or when out and about, but beyond the trip hazards, faulty electricals and cooking nightmares are the things you can’t necessarily see which may be affecting your health.
Most people are surprised to learn that when it comes to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), the air we breathe in our homes may in fact be up to 70% more polluted than the air beyond our four walls. That’s because many of the ordinary household items we are surrounded by and use without thinking contain potentially harmful chemicals – low level, yes, but with prolonged exposure they can all add up to some very nasty health problems. With the average person spending upwards of 90% of their time indoors and 70% of that at home, the quality of the air our families breathe suddenly starts to look very, very important indeed.
At the lower end of the health scale, poor indoor air quality can cause mild symptoms of irritation to the mouth, ears, nose and throat, while the reduced oxygen content can lead to headaches and lethargy. In more serious instances, poor air can cause vomiting and increase the risk of developing serious respiratory problems including, in the worst case scenario, illnesses such as Legionnaires’ Disease.
The humidity and moisture generated when cooking or simply going about our day to day lives can build up and create the ideal breeding ground for all manner of nasty germs and bacteria, responsible for many coughs, colds and respiratory illnesses. Aside from moisture in the air, dust, dirt, fluff from household pets and carbon monoxide from smoking or cooking can all feed into the mix to reduce air quality.
We are also exposed on a daily basis to the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in some of our most frequently used household products. Sometimes they’re found in the places you would expect to see and smell them – aerosols, air fresheners, glues, household paints, wood treatment products and paint strippers. Other times they’re hidden in more unlikely items such as detergents and laundry products, the fabric of your sofa, the print on your newspaper and emitting from electronic gadgets.
Each product will have passed safety checks and limits on VOCs, but taken together they build up to a big problem. So what can be done to reduce the harmful effects of indoor air pollutants and improve the air quality in your home?
For starters, if you’re doing any decorating you can look for low-VOC alternatives to reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals. Many paints and other DIY products are now clearly labelled as low-VOC, so making the switch to less damaging products is easy. Some people choose to reduce the bacteria-friendly humidity in their homes by using a dehumidifier, but these are often costly, noisy and largely ineffective, as they can only draw the moisture from one room of the house at a time.
Better still is a whole house indoor ventilation system such as those installed by us here at Envirovent. Our systems are more energy and cost efficient, and can often be fitted out of sight and out of mind, where they draw moisture out of the air and cleanse the whole property. Our new models are easy to install and use, and with a humidity regulator you can get better control over the quality of the indoor air you breathe.
So there you have it, nothing more to fear - home is a safe and happy place, and it can be made even safer, happier and healthier with an indoor ventilation system.