How Polluted Is Your Home?
Most people think, myself included, that as soon as we get inside our homes we are free from all the day to day pollution of car exhausts, factories, incinerators etc. However I was surprised to learn that our own homes can sometimes be just as polluted as outdoors!
The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health concluded in their report: “Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution”, that indoor pollutants may cause several thousand deaths per year in the UK, and while the government is responsible for curbing outdoor air pollution protecting the air indoors is mainly our responsibility as homeowners.
Some of the indoor pollutants are fairly well known such as – second hand smoke, carbon monoxide and radon. However there are other less known pollutants lurking in your home. Here are a few that I discovered.
Paint- Sometimes older homes can still have lead paint on the walls, and any cracking and peeling paint can produce lead-tainted dust that can easily get on children’s hands, which more often than not they end up in their mouths!
Newer paints can also create some health risks as many of them contain VOCs and can give off-gas for weeks or months after a room is painted. The short-term risks of these paint fumes are headaches, dizziness, nausea, asthma exacerbation, fatigue, skin allergies, confusion, and memory impairment.
Just make sure when you’re buying paint, look for brands that have lower levels of VOCs. These paints are just as good as standard interior and exterior paints and they also tend to dry much more quickly.
Carpets- Firstly, carpets harbor dirt, dust mites, pet dander, dirt, fungus and other unhealthy particles that can irritate the lungs, trigger asthma attacks or send some people into allergic fits.
Secondly, and less obvious is the hidden chemicals used to produce carpets that give off gas. The most common is formaldehyde, which can irritate the nose and throat, trigger asthma attacks and cause other lung damage. Studies on animals have shown formaldehyde can even cause cancer.
Cleaning Products– Cleaning products are supposed to leave your house cleaner, but many can introduce harmful chemicals into the air. Chlorine bleach is particularly bad. Combining it with any acidic cleaner like ammonia or vinegar can create chlorine gas (yes, the same gas used in chemical warfare) which can cause instant health problems, even death, when inhaled.
Cooking– Cooking a meal for your family or making your self a quick snack on the hob, especially a gas hob, can actually cause unsafe levels of nitrogen dioxide into the air, which in turn can cause breathing difficulties. Therefore it is important to ensure your kitchen is well ventilated when you are cooking.
Air Fresheners- Many people think using air fresheners can improve the air quality in the home, however their toxicity can be likened to that of secondhand smoke! They contain ethylene-based glycol ethers, which can cause neurological problems, fatigue, nausea, tremors and anaemia. Another chemical a lot of air fresheners contain are phthalates, they are known as endocrine disruptors and can be especially harmful to children whose endocrine system isn’t yet fully developed
Tips For Reducing Pollution in your home
1) Reduce carpeting.
2) Introduce plants into your house.
3) Invest in a salt lamp http://www.ivitality.co.uk/shop/household-products/himalayan-crystal-rock-salt-lamp/
4) Open your windows regularly to air your house.
5) Avoid chemical filled cleaning products http://www.ivitality.co.uk/shop/household-products/ecover-multi-action-spray/
6) Ventilate well when cooking.
Since discovering about indoor pollution, as a family, we have taken steps to improve our air. I hope you are able to do the same! Feel free to comment on how you have increased the quality of your air.