Household air quality: are you breathing toxic air?

Chances are, the answer is yes.  Even in your own home.  Especially in your own home.

Did you know that in industrialised countries, people spend around 90% of their time indoors?  Alarmingly, studies have shown that exposure of occupants to indoor air pollutants is 100 times higher than their exposure to outdoor air pollutants!

Indoor air quality is vitally important to the health of our whole family but it’s something that we probably don’t give much thought to.

Family www.thehappyhabitat.com.au

Why types of pollutants are lurking inside my home?

Indoor air pollutants come in many forms, from particles, dust mites and mould spores to volatile organic gases (VOCs), brominated flame retardants, pesticides and toxic metals.  And if you think your home is immune, think again.  All homes contain pollutants, say these dust experts interviewed by Time Magazine, whether they track in with the dirt on your shoes, drift in on the air, or are produced from indoor sources such as furniture, carpet and paint.

Unfortunately indoor pollutants pose a significant environmental risk to children, adults and pets. According to this scientific review, exposure to household pollutants may result in learning disabilities, allergies, cancer, retarded growth, nervous system damage and other illnesses.  There are strong correlations between indoor air quality and asthma, eczema and other allergic symptoms, with exposure to pollutants before birth and during childhood posing significant risks.  This study linked poor air quality in the bedroom with repeat child asthma hospital admissions.

So, what can you do?  Read on for our simple tips on improving the air quality inside your home.

Reduce toxins & breathe easy in your home – our top recommendations

Photo by gpointstudio/iStock / Getty Images
  1. First and foremost, open a window...open many windows! Yes, fresh air can dilute chemical toxins and remove moisture, thereby improving the air that you breathe.  Also, allowing direct sunlight into the room helps kill off dust mites and fungus spores.
  2. Vacuum regularly to reduce dust build-up in carpets and fabric upholstery.  Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is much more effective than regular bagged vacuum cleaners.  HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air filtration and these filters trap the dirt you can't see (such as droppings from dust mites, pollen, mould, pet dander and tobacco particles), rather than sending allergens back into the air.
  3. Add some house plants.  Not only do plants remove carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis and release oxygen but they can absorb toxins from the too.  They have been extensively studied by NASA scientists for their ability to absorb harmful gases and clean indoor air, who say the best choices are: palms, rubber plants, dracaenas, philodendrons, ficus, boston ferns and peace lilies.
  4. Throw away fragranced household products.  Air fresheners, plug-ins, washing up liquids, candles and other scented home products produce formaldehyde when they react with air.  Regular exposure to formaldehyde can irritate the lungs and may contribute to asthma, cancer and other illnesses.  So try to limit your use of these products, or use fragrance-free varieties and natural alternatives.
  5. Adjust the indoor climate.  Keeping the temperature in your home below 21 degrees Celsius and the humidity below 50 per cent can help reduce dust mites and mould growth. These two common indoor allergens thrive in hot and humid environments.
  6. Get outdoors more! The benefits of getting closer to nature are too comprehensive to list but include making you healthier, calmer, helping you to feel better and behave better and sharpening your mental performance.
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Making these types of simple changes can radically improve the health and wellbeing of all the occupants in your home, enhancing respiratory and cardiovascular health, immunity, mental clarity and sleep.  For more information or for a comprehensive audit of your home, contact us at info@thehappyhabitat.com.au.