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Understanding Indoor Pollution: What You Need to Know

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Understanding Indoor Pollution: What You Need to Know

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Jun 12, 2024

Indoor pollution, also known as indoor air pollution, refers to the quality of the air within buildings and structures. It’s the air you breathe while at home, work, or any enclosed space. Unfortunately, this air isn’t always as fresh and clean as we’d like it to be, and that can affect your health both in the short and long-term.

Types of Indoor Pollution

There are many different types of pollution that can be found in a typical home. These can come from outside or indoors, and without good air circulation, can build up to high levels.

Particulate Matter (PM) refers to tiny particles of soot that come from a variety of sources including vehicle fumes from outdoors, cooking, indoor heaters, and smoking. If inhaled, particulate matter can penetrate deep into your lungs and bloodstream, affecting your health.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are evaporated solvents that are emitted by products like paints, cleaning agents, and the plastics in furniture. You may have noticed their effects if you get a headache or eye irritation when painting or using certain cleaning products, but long-term exposure can cause serious damage to your kidneys, liver, and central nervous system.

Biological contaminants such as mould spores, pollen grains, and waste products from dust mites can build up in your home without good ventilation. Pollen causes hay fever symptoms, while mould spores and dust mite waste can affect people with asthma and other respiratory conditions and cause breathing difficulties.

The health effects of indoor pollution

Poor air quality in your home can lead to short term health issues as well as contributing to longer-term problems that can be extremely dangerous.

Short term exposure to VOCs can cause a reaction like allergies. Difficulty breathing, irritation to eyes and skin, and nausea, and if you are exposed to the chemicals for longer, can worsen asthma, cause neurological problems and liver and kidney damage.

Some pollutants found in the home can be carcinogenic – particularly those from combustion including some particulate matter and smoke from tobacco. In areas of the country with high levels of radon, lung cancer can be caused.

Improving your home ventilation improves your air quality

Good ventilation reduces the concentration of pollutants in the air inside your home and reduces the risk to your health.

The extractor fans in your kitchen and bathrooms are effective in reducing humidity levels and removing the smoke from cooking or using chemicals to clean those rooms. Lower humidity reduces condensation, which will stop mould from growing and releasing spores into the air.

Whole house ventilation systems offer an even better solution. Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) can be installed in most homes. These systems have a central unit that is mounted in the loft and draw fresh air into the house from outside. Air comes in at roof level, above the height where most pollution is found, and is filtered to remove particles and pollen before being released gently throughout the home. This incoming air displaces the stale pollutant heavy air which leaves through natural ventilation.

PIV systems are highly efficient in use and help make your central heating more effective by distributing heat more effectively.

What you can do

If you are worried about the potential risks of air pollution in your home, we can help. Enter your postcode below to find a ventilation specialist in your area. They can carry out a free home survey at your property and provide you with advice about the best ventilation system for your needs.