Is your house a safe haven from indoor air pollution?
The front page of The Times has declared that buyers’ knowledge of pollution hotspots could drive down London house prices.
We support the great work the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) has done to raise awareness of the significant health threat posed by air pollution. It’s time people start thinking about how the air we breathe affects our health.
For some reason, it’s easy to understand that the food we eat impacts our health. We know that chemicals on our skin can be damaging. But it’s harder to wrap our minds around the fact that 1) there are chemicals in the air we can’t see, smell or taste; 2) that these chemicals can cause all kinds of problems ranging from asthma and allergies to heart disease and cancer; and 3) these chemicals come from everyday products we use to wash, clean and decorate.
We need campaigns like COPI’s to educate people on the dangers they face with every breath they take. But we need to be thinking holistically.
YOUR HOME SHOULD BE A SANCTUARY
It isn’t necessarily true that when you step inside your home, you are safe from pollution. Indoor air can be five times worse than the air outside. But while you can only do your small part to fight outdoor pollution (like not idling your engine, particularly near a school), you have far more control over your own home.
The first step is to educate yourself. Have an indoor air quality test to see if your air is clean and that your house ventilation systems (extractor fans, trickle vents, etc) are working properly.
If you uncover a problem, you can make improvements:
- Open your windows for at least 15 minutes a day.
- Replace old extractor fans (more than five years old) and use them regularly in bathrooms and kitchens.
- Do not dry clothes on a radiator as it produces airborne moisture that can cause mould.
- Keep your home evenly heated throughout all the rooms.
- Use natural cleaning products and toiletries; avoid those with scents (though essential oils aren’t as bad) and never use plug in or spray air fresheners.
- Limit the use of flames: candles and fires. But if you do have a wood burner, use well seasoned wood and clear out the ash straight away (it can create formaldehyde, which you don’t want to be inhaling).
The more we know about what we face when we walk down the street, the more important it is to ensure our homes are a sanctuary. Airtopian homes are healthy homes.