Boost your wellbeing with these pollutant-busting tips for your indoor space.
It’s not just pollution outside that we need to be aware of. Research shows that indoor air pollution may be just as dangerous – a problem, given that many of us are now spending all our time indoors. But you can reduce your risk by following these tips to help you breathe easier.
There are as many as 900 toxins polluting our air indoors. Tiny particles from mould spores, house dust, pollen, cleaning products, gas cookers and cosmetics, such as perfume and hairspray, all linger in the air and can be inhaled deep into the lungs. The health impact can result in conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and even heart attacks and strokes.
How to combat indoor air pollution
Open a window
‘The one thing you can do to improve the air quality in your home is to keep it well ventilated, especially when cooking and cleaning,’ says Harriet Edwards, air quality policy manager at the British Lung Foundation. Opening the windows for just 10 minutes at a time will allow fresh air to circulate through the house.
Houseplants can help
‘There is good evidence that houseplants can remove some toxic compounds,’ says Tijana Blanusa, environmental scientist at the Royal Horticultural Society. ‘Dracaena, ivy, and rubber plants have been found to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and peace lilies help to reduce air dryness in a room.’
Get candle smart
Candles smell gorgeous but they can give off nasty toxins. A study found that parafin wax candles release chemicals that cause poor indoor air quality, and long-term exposure can be harmful. If you love a scented flickering flame at home, choose soy and beeswax candles instead.
House-dust mites are a common trigger for allergies and a big part of indoor air pollution. ‘When people say they’re allergic to dust, it’s actually dust mites or, to be precise, their waste, which is the problem,’ says Woman’s Weekly GP Dr Gill Jenkins. These mites thrive in high humidity, so keep your home between 17-22 degrees. A regular whizz around with a vacuum cleaner and washing will also keep them at bay.
Ditch the cleaning products
Powerful household cleaners can be a dangerous source of health- damaging VOCs. ‘Many contain ingredients that are highly irritant to both the skin and respiratory system,’ says Dr Gill. The British Lung Foundation says it’s better to use solid or pourable cleaning products rather than sprays, which distribute particles into the air. Or ditch the chemicals altogether and replace with eco ingredient. Try this: The E-cloth Home Starter Pack (ecloth.com) removes 99% of bacteria used with water alone.
How to prevent mould in your home
Damp and dangerous mould can cause respiratory issues and allergies.
- Don’t dry clothes indoors or on radiators.
- Cover pans when cooking.
- Vent tumble driers to outside.
- Avoid bottled gas heaters.
- Open trickle vents.
- Ventilate the kitchen and bathroom when using them, and for a short time afterwards.
- Air your cupboards and wardrobes and avoid overfilling them.
- To remove condensation, wipe the windows and sills in the bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms.