Everyone spends a lot of time in their home, but while most people are concerned about pollution on the streets and in our cities, not everyone realises the importance of air quality at home. Here are some ways to improve the air you breathe most often!
Table of Contents
- 1. Identify, reduce and remove individual sources of pollution.
- 2. Ventilate
- 3. Keep mould to a minimum
- 4. Don’t smoke indoors
- 5. Practice sense in pet care
- 6. Maintain humidity
- 7. Check potentially dangerous appliances regularly
- 8. Practice spring-cleaning more often than every spring
- 9. Make use of natural solutions
- 10. Use technology wisely
1. Identify, reduce and remove individual sources of pollution.
Many everyday items and products produce harmful air pollutants. These can include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause both irritation and more serious damage like kidney damage or cancer. Items that contain these compounds include many cleaning products, paints, air fresheners and dry-cleaned items. You should always be careful to choose your cleaning and decorating supplies with their chemical components in mind, and be aware that low-pollution alternatives are available for most jobs. Paints with low levels of VOC often advertise this fact, and are therefore easier to find.
“Offgassing” from new plastic items can also be an issue. Where possible, this type of item should be allowed to stand outside without packaging for several hours (even days, if possible) before being brought into the house, to allow the bulk of the volatile chemicals to dissipate.
One of the easiest ways to improve the air quality in your home is to ventilate it properly. Ensuring that windows are opened regularly and that other sources of ventilation such as air bricks are free from obstructions encourages air flow and reduces pollutants within the home.
Fresh air leaves your home feeling lighter and cleaner, but modern builds are often practically hermetically sealed due to an absence of chimneys and similar design features, so you need to make a concious choice to allow airflow through your home. Of course, if the air outside is of poor quality, this will not be as helpful, but in developed countries it is rare for external air quality to be particularly poor.
3. Keep mould to a minimum
Leading on from point 2, good practice in mould prevention can reduce a major source of pollution and irritants, and ventilation is one of the key ways of doing this. Damp areas should be wiped down and ventilated regularly, and where possible sources of damp should be carefully controlled (for example, using lids on saucepans and choosing not to dry clothes indoors).
4. Don’t smoke indoors
Second-hand smoke is a major pollutant, and chemicals from tobacco can easily become trapped in soft furnishings, causing longer-term pollution. Smokers may choose to go outdoors to smoke, in which case nearby windows and doors should be sealed for the duration. Be aware that pollutant chemicals can also be carried on smokers’ clothes, so rapid laundry of these items is required.
5. Practice sense in pet care
Pet fur and debris can cause pollution within the home. All furry pets should be well groomed and excess hair disposed of regularly. Parasite treatments can be a major source of pollution; they should be used with care and priority should be given to ensuring adequate ventilation during and after use. There are also less-polluting alternatives that you could try, such as essential oils, to see if they are effective for your pets.
6. Maintain humidity
A de-humidifier can help to reduce excess water in the air, preventing mould growth and improving air quality; however, air that is too dry (perhaps due to central heating use and inadequate ventilation) can also encourage the spread of pollutant particles. In this case, adding water to the atmosphere by using a humidifier or even water-dispersers hung on radiators can help.
7. Check potentially dangerous appliances regularly
One of the more insidious forms of air pollution (since it has no smell or taste) is carbon monoxide, a lethal gas that can be produced by malfunctioning combustion items. This can include boilers, gas cookers, and other forms of heating. A regular check by a trained professional to ensure this type of item is working correctly is very important. As well as the lethal carbon monoxide, other combustion pollutants may be produced by inefficient appliances, so a health check for the appliance may save your health later. You may also consider fitting a carbon monoxide detector, just in case something goes wrong with your appliances between check-ups.
8. Practice spring-cleaning more often than every spring
A thorough cleaning and dusting (obviously using low- or no-pollution products) can help to remove potentially dangerous residues and chemicals from your home. Wet cleaning is more effective than dusting, where practical, as it causes less residue to be thrown into the air. The best method for removing potentially polluting dirt from hard surfaces is by steaming, and there are several domestic steam cleaners now available that do not require extra chemicals for effective cleaning. These can be expensive however, and any thorough clean with a minimum of dangerous chemicals will improve your home’s air quality.
Areas that sometime get overlooked, and that can have an impact on the general air quality of your home, include the insides of computers (fans full of dust impede performance and pollute the air of the person using them), behind radiators and under rugs.
9. Make use of natural solutions
Several different types of house plant are renowned for their abilities to remove pollutants from the air, and are often used in offices for that reason. They can also be a useful addition to a home environment. The best choices include a range of miniature varieties of palms, and the popular peace lily. Rubber plants are also good at removing toxins from the air and balancing humidity. Many plants used for this purpose are either tropical or semi-tropical, and many appreciate shady spots in a warm room, making them ideal for home use, as well as being an attractive addition to your home.
10. Use technology wisely
If you are concerned about air quality, you may choose to invest in air conditioning units, filters or fans to assist in improving your air quality. These are very useful, and there are several brands of dedicated air purifier available that can filter and clean the air in your home. All of these types of devices should be regularly checked and cleaned, and filters replaced frequently. Dangerous bacteria can build up in malfunctioning air conditioning units and purifiers that may then be spread around your house, so ensuring that your equipment is fit-for-purpose is essential.