Why IAQ matters
What You Breathe Matters, Indoors and Out
Solving the problems with outdoor air will require government action and major changes to the way we currently live. Knowing the air outdoors may not be safe makes it essential to ensure our homes are a sanctuary, a healthy haven in which we can live and breathe. It’s something we provide for ourselves with just a little bit of knowledge.
When Airtopia was founded, indoor air quality was not on the tip of most people’s tongues. We would introduce the subject to activists involved in the air quality issue and even they would wonder if it was really ‘a thing.’
A lot of people out there have either not heard about IAQ or they think it’s not something they need to worry about. Parents of children with allergies and asthma have said to us, ‘I don’t have a problem… my house is clean.’
That’s a common myth we want to dispel. The issue of indoor air quality doesn’t have anything to do with whether your house is clean. In fact, sometimes it’s the products you use to clean your house and give it a lovely ambiance that can create problems with indoor air pollution.
Why does Airtopia exist?
It’s hard to convince people to care about an issue if they aren’t really sure what it is. Airtopia was created to educate the public about indoor air pollution - what causes it and how it can be improved.
Our founder David Evans MBE realised we are creating self-inflicted wounds by unknowingly living in unhealthy environments. But he was passionate in his belief that we could solve our own problems with a little bit of knowledge.
Applying his expertise in behaviour change, he decided the best way to tackle the issue was one home at a time. He would deploy trained analysts to houses, flats and bungalows across Great Britain to test people’s air, reassuring them if it is healthy and offering remedial advice if any problems were uncovered.
This personal attention to each individual’s unique circumstances would create a cultural change of people protecting their own environment and improving their health. In so doing, marginal gains would lead to big savings for the NHS as fewer people suffered respiratory, heart and other IAQ-related illnesses.
Airtopia’s purpose is to make the country healthier by cleaning up the air in our homes, where we spend at least 70% of our time.
Step one is to help everyone understand the issue…
What is indoor air pollution?
Indoor air pollution is a buildup of unhealthy toxins in the home. These chemicals are emitted from everyday sources like cleaning products and toiletries, new furniture, dry cleaning, drying clothes on a radiator, paints, glues, alcohol, cookers and fires (from candles to wood burners).
As we improve the energy efficiency of our homes, sealing them up to make them airtight, these pollutants remain in the air we breathe. Each time we inhale, a toxic chemical cocktail could be entering our bodies. The only way to know whether our air is safe is to have it tested.
While the research is still being done to determine how dangerous it is to live with pollutants in our home, it’s always best to be armed with as much information as possible and limit exposure where we can.
Here are some of the nasties Airtopia has found in homes we’ve tested:
- Light hydrocarbons (butane, isobutane and propane).
- Can impact mental health, cause respiratory issues and affect the heart.
- Light hydrocarbons (butane, isobutane and propane).
- Paints, varnishes and surface coatings (C10-C14 aliphatic hydrocarbons, TexanolTMester alcohols, ethylene glycol and white spirit (Stoddart solvent).
- Associated with lung and breathing problems. Increases the risk of childhood asthma; eye and skin irritation; triggers allergies, headaches, migraines, nausea, muscle weakness, liver damage, kidney damage and cancer.
- Personal care products (Acetone, isopropyl alcohol (IPA), n-butylacetate and ethylacetate)
- Can cause irritation to the skin; headaches; respiratory irritation.
- Odorants and fragrances (Terpenes such as a-pinene and limonene)
- Impacts on breathing rate and heart-rate; increases airway resistance; is a GI, skin and mucous membrane irritant; causes coughing, dizziness, chest pain, bronchitis, nephritis and depression.
- Alcohol products (Ethanol and isopropyl alcohol).
- Causes irritation to the skin, headaches, drowsiness, stomach pain, confusion, dizziness, slowed breathing, hypotension (with or without bradycardia), gastroenteritis, vomiting, diarrhea. Has been associated with some cancers.
- Petrol and petroleum products (Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene)
- Can cause acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and childhood leukemia. There are weak links between benzene and the following: acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), other blood-related cancers (such as multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma) in adults.
- Associated with depression, streaming eyes, sore nasal passages, skin irritation, irritated throat, heart palpitations, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, Type-2 diabetes, increased risk of cancer, dementia.
- Microscopic mould growth
- Causes allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue and nausea.
- Carbon Dioxide
- Causes dizziness, confusion, headaches, loss of consciousness, coughing, tachycardia, weakened diaphragm, changes in lung tissue, and sweating.
Step 2: Makes Small Changes
We think of our tests like going to the doctor for a health check or having an MOT on a car. We do it for peace of mind and to ensure everything is working well. If it isn’t, we can find the problem and fix it before anything serious happens. An ounce of prevention, and all that…
Small changes to the way we live in our homes can make a huge impact on our indoor air quality and our health. An Airtopia indoor air quality test identifies pollutants, while our trained analysts and helpful members’ website provides answers to questions about what to do if there is a problem and how to have a healthier home.
Our home, our personal sanctuary
Indoor air quality is an environmental issue over which we each, individually, have control. We can ensure the space in which we spend at least 70% of our time is a sanctuary from the unhealthy pollutants we often breathe when we walk out of our door. Knowing that indoor air quality matters is step one. Once we know, we must take action: find out whether our home is healthy and then do all we can to protect our own personal environment.