We often think of our homes as a safe haven. The one place where we can retreat from ‘the big smoke’, so to speak! It’s probably a surprise then, to learn that our homes can (and do) have as much potential for ‘pollution’ as the outside world. Yes, indoor air pollution is a real problem, and one that we wouldn’t necessarily think comparable to the much more apparent problem of city smog. In fact, nearly two thirds of us (63%) admit to not even having heard of indoor air pollution before (so say Puressentiel). So how is it that our ‘clean’ homes can harbour all these airborne chemicals? Chris Etheridge a Chemist and Herbalist says - “indoor pollution is a cocktail of outdoor pollutants (such as ozone and vehicle emissions), and indoor irritants such as volatile organic compounds, cleaning chemicals, moulds, fungal spores and bacteria.” Chemicals can come from anything from the carpets we walk on, to the paint on our walls, right through to the cosmetics and cleaning products we use. And since we spend so much time on our homes, the risks are certainly something we should all potentially be building into our health resolutions for the year ahead. As a starting point, it pays to find out where your home is at on the ‘toxin’ scale. Airtopia carry out a detailed analysis of everything from the quantity of VOCs to the level of airborne mould... both thought to be contributing factors to symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, coughing, sneezing, dizziness & nausea. Once you know your home’s pollution score, you can then begin to make informed decisions about everything from how you wash your clothes, to what linen and furnishings you have in your bedroom. It’s part of a holistic approach to wellbeing, that in our modern informed times, more and more of us are appreciating the benefits of, from a personal as well as an environmental perspective.
Among the changes we can make to improve the air quality of our homes are:
One easy step we can all take towards cleaner indoor air is to ivest in an air plant such as a Tillandsia plant, which helps to reduce the humidity that bacteria thrive in. Many house plants can also help remove VOCs from the air via a process of 'biofiltration', and placing just one plant in a small room can increase air quality by 25%,
Open windows after hoovering
Dust mites are often present in the air after hoovering, so it’s important to air the house for a few hours after you’ve finished.
Use natural paint
Solvents found in traditional paints are notorious for containing harmful chemicals known as VOCs, which evaporate at room temperature, say Awair . These can travel into the lungs and cause a variety of ailments, including eczema flare ups and headaches, when wet paint is drying. Indoor VOC levels can be 1000 times higher than outdoors, with the toxic emissions continuing for up to six months after the paint has dried, so it’s important that decorated rooms are ventilated as much as possible.
And another thing...
Ensure that dust levels are reduced in the house by dusting with a wet cloth weekly, tumble dry cushions to control dust mites and invest in wood, leather and vinyl decorative pieces wherever possible as they are easier to clean.