We’re all acutely aware of how air pollution can affect our health. From seeking greener alternatives, to trying to use the car less, we’re bombarded with warnings about how pollution and carbon dioxide emissions are changing the planet we live on and bringing with it a host of health problems.
Strange then that, for many of us, we consider air pollution as an “outdoor problem”. But what about the air inside our homes? After all, it’s the same air, just trapped within our four walls. And, trapped as it is, it is susceptible to all kinds of indoor pollutants.
We spend around 90% of our time indoors, so it’s vital that the air we breathe there is clean. Here, heat pump air conditioner experts Daikin explore the risks of toxin building up and reducing the air quality within your home, and what can be done to make the air purer.
Toxic House Syndrome
Also known as Sick Building Syndrome, the NHS outlines some possible causes for the symptoms of this condition. Dust, smoke, bad ventilation, and inadequately maintained air conditioning units are all cited as potentially contributing towards the problem.
The World Health Organization outlined the following risks of extremely poor indoor air quality:
- Ischaemic heart disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Lung cancer
Though the impact of toxic household air is more apparent in poor and low-income countries, who still use solid fuels like wood, waste, and charcoal, more developed countries are still adding to their indoor pollutants.
Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Let’s address the root causes of pollutants in your home or workplace.
An article by the British Lung Foundation noted that ventilation, temperature, damp, cooking, smoking, pets, cleaning products, and pollution from outside all build up within our homes. It’s worth opening the windows of your home for at least a little time every day, especially when you’re cooking. Check your home for damp too — this can cause myriad health problems, so you’ll want to treat it as soon as possible if found.
We might enjoy relaxing with a scented candle, but sadly, our lungs aren’t relaxing when you light a perfumed candle. The chemicals used to perfume candles for their scent can contain harmful substances like benzene and toluene. The same goes for air fresheners, regardless of if they are spray or plug-in. The fresh scent is achieved by chemicals, which you let into your home when you use them, so if you’re looking to freshen up, best stick to opening the windows and cleaning the home with natural products.
Indeed, spray-bottle cleaners can cause the chemical cleaning product to partly disperse into the air. It’s better to opt for liquid cleaners that you can pour as much as you need. Consider other sprays too (deodorant, hair spray, etc) and only use them in well-ventilated areas.
How to Purify the Air
Now that we know some of the causes of poor air quality, let’s explore how you can address the issue and improve the air you breathe.
We’ve discussed ditching the store-bought air fresheners and all the toxins they bring with them. But you still need a way to freshen up your home without having the windows open all the time, right? Luckily, there are loads of natural air fresheners you can make, and they’re very easy to create. The Natural Penguin offers loads of great ideas — we’re particularly fond of the oil-scented wood blocks, they’re simple and would look boho-chic in a glass bowl mixed with some dried flowers or glass pebbles.
Another natural way to clean up the air is to scatter a few plants around the place. NASA has even conducted a study of the best air-purifying plants out there; try some aloe vera in the bedroom, or a spider plant in the kitchen! Ask your employer if it’s possible to bring some greenery into the office too.
If you want to be sure your space has pure air, particularly with outdoor pollutants still able to get indoors, why not invest in an air purification system? These powerful systems actively filter the air you breathe, capturing any harmful particles or pollutants and keeping the air as fresh as possible. Air purifiers can help lower allergy and asthma symptoms, as well as reduce the number of bacteria in the air you breathe. They’re also a great way to neutralise odours without resorting to harmful air fresheners.
It’s second nature, and so we often neglect to consider the air we breathe. But it’s not something you can avoid! Take a look around your indoor spaces and ask yourself — what exactly am I breathing in every day?