There are lots of reasons for indoor air pollution – from cleaning products, smoking, air fresheners and paint fumes to outdoor pollutants such as traffic emissions, allergens and pollen which make their way indoors.
The levels of internal air pollution in your home can fluctuate daily, and depend on a range of factors, such as whether you live in a city and lifestyle factors.
Many people may never experience any health problems as a result of air pollution, but most studies focus on outdoor pollution; less is known about the long-term effects of poor indoor air quality.
Do you want to improve your home’s air quality? There are some simple things you can do to help purify your air at home…
1. Avoid smoking indoors
It’s long been known that tobacco smoke is harmful to the health of the smoker and those around them – leading to indoor smoking in public places being made illegal in 2007.
But while it may seem common sense to keep your home free of cigarette smoke, don’t forget other sources of smoke such as candles and incense, which also emit carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide when burned. One helpful tip is to replace paraffin wax candles, made of a petroleum by-product, with natural wax candles such as those made of soy or beeswax.
2. Go green
Can plants really purify air? It’s true that houseplants slowly soak up pollutants, as well as transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen – although recent studies have found you would actually need a huge amount of them to achieve the same level of air purification as simply opening a window or running a ventilation system.
While it might not be the most effective method of air purification, there is evidence that filling your living space with plants may help to reduce stress levels, boost productivity and increase feelings of well-being. Indoor plants that are particularly good at air purifying include ferns, peace lilies, spider plants and rubber trees.
3. Choose low VOC paint
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases given off by fabrics, paints, glues and other materials. When released into the atmosphere they form particulates that can irritate our lungs.
All paints sold in the UK have to abide by government regulations and emit a safe amount of VOCs, but there are more and more non-toxic paint brands popping up, so if you’re concerned you can opt for one of those next time you makeover your home.
4. Forget air fresheners
Typical air fresheners are packed with synthetic chemicals – try replacing them with naturally fragranced home scent products, essential oil burners or room diffusers.
Bear in mind that essential oils can sometimes irritate symptoms in people with allergies.
5. Use an extractor fan when cooking
From burned food to smoke and gas from the hob, the kitchen can be a source of many air pollutants. Most kitchens have an extractor fan or exhaust fan built-in to the cooker hood, make sure to switch this on before preheating the oven or using the hob, and leave it running for a few minutes after you’ve finished cooking for best results. It’s also a good idea to open kitchen windows for ventilation.
6. Opt for an air purifier
Nothing does the job as effectively as a purpose-designed air purifier. Air purifiers are designed to draw in air, filter out pollutants such as dust, dander, pollen and bacteria and circulate clean air back into your room.
There are a wide range of air purifiers available on the market to suit every budget. Many models include intelligent auto modes, so you don’t need to constantly turn it on and off, and even display air quality information for reassurance at a glance.