There are many different sources of pollution in every home, and not all of them are what you’d expect. Aside from devices such as laser printers and boilers, there are other more innocuous contributors to the amount of pollution in the air you breathe including cooking, smoking, and even perfume. The materials used to make furniture and paint walls can also release chemicals into the air, and in a modern home which is designed to be airtight and energy efficient, the levels of domestic pollution can build up quickly.
Everything from heating to aerosols has a damaging effect on the air in your home – even air fresheners – and when this is coupled with the release of microscopic spores from any mould growth, it is easy to see why some people begin to suffer with allergies and respiratory problems without realising the source.
The simple fact is that in the same way as power companies and our cars contribute to pollution outdoors, our activities indoors also create pollution including Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which air airborne chemicals that can play havoc with your health.
Many consumer products release VOCs into the air of your home including:
In fact, according to The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) there could be up to 900 chemicals present in the air inside our homes, and a survey by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that the air inside our homes could be up to 70% more polluted than the air outside!
There are, thankfully, some simple things you can do to improve the quality of the air in your home.
Removing your shoes when you enter your home avoids spreading outdoor pollution through your home. Your shoes will carry chemicals, pollen, dirt, and even particulates from traffic into the house where it can build up.
Although fewer people do smoke, in some households it remains a primary cause of dangerous pollutants. Try to ensure that you smoke outside even if you don't have children. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known carcinogens which can build up in your home damaging your property and affecting the health of those around you.
Ideally try and cut out aerosols altogether. Spray bottles can be just as effective and don’t rely on the pressurising chemicals that can cause skin reactions and even trigger heart problems. If you do need to use an aerosol, do so by an open window to reduce the amount of chemicals that build up in your home.
Try and avoid allowing humidity levels in your home to build up too high. Using extractor fans when cooking or bathing will expel some of the moist air that forms condensation and allows mould to grow. When mould matures, it releases spores into the air that can cause breathing problems.
Allowing stale air to escape and bringing fresh air into your home is essential. Try and keep windows open whenever and wherever possible to allow for healthy air circulation.
If you suffer from allergies or have young children, a home air purifier can be a worthwhile investment. Carefully placed around your home, they can help remove particulate matter including pollen from the air which can be helpful if you have hayfever during the summer.
Another quick and easy way to improve air quality is through the purchase of house plants. They work to produce cleaner, fresher air for your home, with very little in the way of upkeep (aside from watering).
Although fruit and vegetables are carefully washed before arriving at the supermarket, they can still carry pesticides and other chemicals that can slowly release into your home. Organic produce does not carry these chemicals and can help contribute to improving your indoor air quality.
Like carpets and upholstery, bedding holds on to odours, spores and other items that might impact negatively on the quality of the air you breathe. Ensure that bedding is regularly washed.
If you have a cat or dog that spends a lot of time outside, they can bring dirt and dust from outdoors into your home. It’s a sad truth that dogs don’t wipe their feet when they come through the door, so they will track dirt around the house. Regular washing with a good shampoo ensures that dirt is minimised and if you combine it with good grooming practices, reduces the amount of fur that your pet sheds.
Another simple, effective method of improving air quality, the regular mopping of floors ensures that you are not breathing in harmful bacteria that may have built up over time.
Tap water is treated with chlorine to purify it, and this can be released into your home in small quantities. Installing a water filter that dechlorinates the water reduces the amount of this gas that will leak into the air you breathe.
If you live in a part of the UK that has high levels of radon gas, you should ensure that a radon detector is present in your home to detect if the concentration of gas in the air reaches dangerous levels. Good ventilation is important to keep the levels as low as possible to protect you from exposure to the radioactive by-products that radon creates.
The fragrances used in detergents and other cleaning products are not what you’d think. The scent of lemon or pine is actually made up of a cocktail of quite nasty chemicals. Try to source environmentally friendly cleaning products that work in the same way as cleaning chemicals but without causing damage to your health.
The smell of fresh paint can be unpleasant for many people and is often the solvent used in the paint evaporating. Use unscented and pollution free paints to protect your home air quality when decorating or doing DIY.
Ventilation will vary from building to building, and monitoring it is essential to keeping a good air flow in a room. Ensure that you are up to date with the plans and efficiency of your home and that all the ventilation points are well cleared.
If you are concerned about the damage that low quality indoor air can do to your health, we can help. Book your free home survey from our local ventilation specialists. We will visit your home, assess the air quality, and provide you with advice about the best ventilation for your needs. From single room extractor fans through to whole house ventilation systems like PIV, we can help you to improve the quality of the air you breathe.
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