Take A Deep Breath.
Feels good doesn’t it?
What about if I told you that the deep breath you just took was actually filled with pollutants that could be slowly harming, or even killing you… doesn’t feel so good anymore does it?
Unfortunately though, that’s the reality these days, particularly for those of us who live in big cities, drive big cars and have lots of possessions.
It doesn’t matter how fresh that air might smell, there’s bound to be something wrong with it! And it doesn’t matter if you’re standing in the middle of traffic at a busy intersection, surrounded by 4WDs and SUVs – or if you’re sitting in the comfort of your loungeroom watching your favourite show on TV. There are pollutants around you.
The biggest problem is, that although when we’re outside and we’re standing amongst all that traffic – even though the air might seem fresh enough, we know it’s not. It’s pretty obvious. And outdoor air pollution actually causes the death of millions of people and creates illness in millions more, every year.
But when we’re sitting in our loungeroom, and we don’t smell anything that seems untoward – it doesn’t mean we’re not still at risk of pollution. In fact, the indoor air quality at your home might be nowhere near as clean you think!
The Dirty Truth About Pollution In The Home
Before you can understand the things that might cause pollution in the home, you need to know what it actually is. The biggest problem is that we spend a lot of our time inside. In fact, most of us spend around 90% of our time inside buildings – whether that is in the home, other people’s homes, in the office, and so on. And breathing in pollutants that we can’t see, can actually have detrimental effects on our health in the short term (in the form of allergies) and the long term (with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke). And the worst part is, we don’t even know it (or think about it!).
So, what is indoor air quality and why is it important?
The Air We Breathe
Indoor air is the air that is within our homes, office buildings, cars and so on. Any time we’re not standing outside, well – it’s not rocket science – we’re indoors. And when that air is polluted, it can lead to a myriad of health problems.
When you’re inside, there are three main causes of pollution; including the environment itself, such as the temperature (too hot or too cold), the humidity level and your lighting, even noise! Beyond that are all the contaminants that are in the air, including your bacteria and chemicals; and finally there are all the factors that come into the home from outside, which can be a problem if you haven’t got enough air flowing through your home. This is particularly a problem in central city areas, or when its smokey outside! If you don’t have enough air flowing out, the air that comes in has nowhere to go except in your lungs!
And when it comes to indoor pollution, it doesn’t matter how much you clean either. You’re still likely to be exposed! This is because most of the causes aren’t things we actually can see. Yes, dust, mould and bug sprays are obvious ones because we can see them – but there are also a number of hidden pollutants that we don’t consider. This includes things like candles, cleaning products, your kitchen stove, fumes from your fireplace, and so on.
And Those Who Bring It In
Some of the pollutants are there as a result of natural occurrences, such as dust and mould, bacteria and fungi; but others come in with other people or our appliances. For example, if we have printers and photocopiers; we get a pest guy in to spray for bugs; or someone in our house is a smoker, wears a lot of perfume, or even someone that might have bad body odour! Yep, even bad BO is an indoor air pollutant that can affect your health (including that headache!).
For a bit more detail, here’ s a list of common pollutants you might face in your home or office, under three main categories – courtesy of Health United States:
- Pollen (aeroallergens)
- Dust Mites
- Bacteria (such as Legionella)
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Particulate Matter
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – eg, nail polish, aerosol spray products, and air fresheners.
What Can I Do?
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? SO now you’re probably wondering what you can do to limit the amount of indoor pollution in your home. Well, there are a few simple things. Like – keep reading our blog for tips on everything that might be listed above!
You can also keep your house clean. Vacuum it, sweep, dust with a wet cloth (those good old feather dusters just spread those allergens around!), wash your clothes and linen regularly, do your dishes, and so on. Keep the house at a good humidity level. Don’t get it get too hot in winter months, or you’re going to get mildew and mould build up. Ventilate to get that fresh air circulating through; and don’t smoke! Just to name a few.