Air pollution in the home
According to the United Nations, air pollution – both indoor and outdoor – is now linked to 1 in 8 deaths worldwide. This extraordinary statistic should alarm anyone, even if they don’t live in a particularly polluted area – or think that they don’t. Perhaps the most insidious aspect of air pollution and the harmful effect it has on our health is that we can’t see it. Sometimes we can smell it, but it’s all too easy to be completely unaware of what we are breathing in. And even people who live in the country and away from heavy traffic will still be exposed to a cocktail of contaminants in the security of their own home.
What causes air pollution in the home
The number of items that can cause pollution in the home is worrying, and something that few people give consideration to. Smoking is the obvious one, and we all see the effects that has on the smoker and anyone else in the house. But there are many more hidden dangers that are emitting harmful particles. Think of how you need to ventilate a freshly painted room, or one in which you’re using adhesives. Even the carpets that most UK homes have throughout give off pollutants. It’s also very common for people to dry laundry indoors; this creates damp air that can cause harmful mould to grow which produces fungal spores that enter the air and are distributed around the home. We’re using fuel for cooking nearly every day of our lives, cleaning products can be full of harmful chemicals, and if you have an open fire you’re adding even more chemicals to the mix.
If you have an allergy to pets, but can’t bear to do without a beloved canine or feline companion, the reaction to their fur and skin can be pretty miserable. But unless you adopt a hairless Sphynx cat, it’s hard to keep on top of the amount of fur they shed, even with a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Plus unless you live in the country, and well away from any roads, you’ll also be bringing in polluted air from outside every time you open windows or doors. And have you ever wondered where dust comes from? It’s actually largely human skin. All this makes for pretty bad news for anyone who’s allergic. You may not even be sure what is causing your symptoms, just know that there is something wrong.
How this affects allergy sufferers
People with certain medical conditions are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, as well as anyone with a diagnosed or suspected allergy. A pet allergy is quite common, but some people are even allergic to dust or mould. You can avoid having pets, but it’s pretty difficult to avoid your own skin shedding any cells! People with allergies may experience breathing problems, itchy eyes, a runny nose or a skin rash; at worst, they can even be hospitalised.
Steps you can take to reduce air pollution in your home
The only truly effective answer is to install a good air purifier in your home. This will involve an outlay of at least a few hundred pounds, but will more than repay the investment with improved health and comfort. However, there are steps you can take to help reduce the air pollution indoors. This will also mean that the air purifier won’t have to work quite as hard.
- Purchase a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and use it regularly. These are specifically designed for people with pets and/or allergies. Don’t allow dust to build up.
- Keep use of candles and open fires to a minimum. Wood fires give off plenty of heat, and create a cosy atmosphere, but also give out pollutants.
- Don’t allow smoking inside the house.
- Fit exhaust fans in areas where moisture builds up, such as utility rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.
- Keep solvents and chemicals outside in the garage or workroom.
- Keep heating and air conditioners well maintained. Air filters need to be changed frequently.
An air purifier offers security
While you can try to keep your house clean, most people don’t have the time or the inclination to clean their home every day. Besides, cleaning – necessary as it may be – has drawbacks of its own. Unless you stick to using safe, natural products made from simple ingredients such as lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda, you’ll be adding yet more toxic components to the air you’re breathing. Dusting and cleaning often simply circulates the dust and pollutants. What use is that for anyone with an allergy? You need to remove those pollutants. So by purchasing an air purifier for your home, you’re actually cleaning the air and removing dangerous particles.
Regular cleaning is certainly better than nothing, and if you can’t afford an air purifier you’ll at least be doing something to improve indoor air quality. However, the only way to be sure that the air in your home is free of the dust, pet hair, or pollen that causes your allergy is to get a purifier. These are also helpful for anyone who suffers from asthma. The best option for anyone with an allergy is one with a HEPA filter, although you’ll still need to clean to pick up any particles that have settled on the floor or furniture.
It’s an unpleasant realisation to become aware of just how many chemicals our homes give off. An air purifier will do exactly what the name says, pulling in the chemicals and other pollutants that can affect your health, and pumping out clean air instead. Security is better than complacency; too many people don’t even think about the quality of the air they breathe. And while it’s impossible to control the air quality outside your home, you can definitely take steps to ensure that you’re breathing clean air inside.