Make Your Home A Healthy Home
When the phrase ‘air pollution’ is mentioned, most people immediately think of traffic fumes, smoke from incinerators, or emissions from industrial plants or factories. Indoor air pollution in your own home doesn’t immediately spring to mind.
There are various reasons for poor air quality in the home, but many people have no idea that this can be a factor that if left unchecked, can, sometimes severely, affect the health of the occupants.
How you might be unaware of the health risks in your home
Most people will know that if they have pets, there will be pet dander in the house, and that pollen can come into the home and cause allergic reactions in hay fever sufferers. These are both forms of air pollution, but there are other causes of poor air quality in the home which might not be so obvious.
It’s well-known that second-hand smoke from cigarettes will reduce the air quality for everyone in the house, not just for the smoker, and you know the cigarette smoke is there because you can actually see it.
With other air pollutants, however, it’s a different story. Carbon monoxide, for example, is colourless, odourless and, in high enough concentrations, it can be deadly. Without a detector, you’d never know it was there.
Some of the main risks in our homes
Our homes now have much less natural ventilation than they used to have. We add double glazing, and insulate the walls and the loft to reduce drafts and save on energy bills, but that also has the effect of creating poor air quality by closing in any allergens and pollutants that might be in our homes, and potentially increasing their concentration.
If there is any damp in the home, mould spores can form, which can irritate, or even cause, asthma and allergies.
Gases can also accumulate in our homes – carbon monoxide from that second-hand cigarette smoke, naturally occurring radon from the rocks our house is built on, from building materials used, or carbon dioxide from space heaters and gas appliances.
The very materials we use to clean our houses can also release chemicals into the atmosphere.
How indoor air quality can affect our health
We’ve mentioned the possible irritation of asthma and allergies from mould, pet dander and pollen, but some of the chemicals or gases naturally found in our environment can damage our health, particularly over the long term.
Radon in particular is believed to be the second most likely cause of lung cancer after smoking, and breathing in household chemical, pesticides, and even the smoke from the pan while we're cooking can eventually damage our lungs to varying degrees, whether with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or worse.
The importance of making your home as healthy as possible
This really is all about prevention. Thinking about all those things in the home that can cause health problems really can be pretty scary, but it’s not the case that there’s nothing you can do.
There are many things that will help to make your home a healthier place, which can prevent health problems before they start, but clean air can also reduce headaches, give you more energy, and reduce allergy symptoms and wheezing from asthma.
Methods and tips on how to create a healthier home
So what can you do to improve your home? Here’s a list of simple things that will make all the difference:
Buy a carbon monoxide detector. This should be as important in your home as your smoke detector.
•If you have carpets, remove them if you can as hard flooring, such as tiling or parquet is much easier to clean and doesn’t store dust and dander the way carpet does. If you really can’t take up the carpet, and if you have a pet, then use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, so it takes the worst of the allergens out of the air.
•Have your home tested for radon gas. If the gas is present, foundations and floors can be sealed to prevent the gas from entering your home.
•Treat any damp and mould in your home, to reduce any mould spores in the atmosphere.
•Open the windows if you are cleaning or cooking, to reduce the concentration of chemicals or the smoke from cooking in the air
Finally, it’s possible to massively improve the quality of the air in your home by fitting an energy-efficient ventilation system, to filter air coming in from outside and remove allergens, and also to reduce the humidity in your home, prevent condensation, damp and mold growth, and reduce dust mites. And it could even reduce your heating bills!