When we think of pollution, we tend to focus on the atmosphere and oceans, but we don’t just face pollution in the great outdoors—there’s plenty of dirty air in your home, too.
What Is Indoor Pollution?
Indoor air pollution is the presence of toxic fumes or particles in your home or office.
Air pollutants include mold, pet hair, scented candles, sofa manufacturing chemicals, and wall paint used to decorate a nursery.
These sources of air pollution enter our lungs and affect the skin, and in some cases, the damaging effects are long-lasting.
The problem is that most of the time we don’t even realize we’re breathing polluted air as we crash out in front of Netflix.
It’s enough to take your breath away.
Why Is Indoor Air Quality Important?
We spend a lot of time indoors. The majority of us have year-round indoor office jobs, and in the cold winter weather, we tend to stay indoors with tightly closed-up windows.
With no way to escape, airborne toxins linger—and we breathe them in.
We need fresh, clean air to feel healthy. Dirty air can cause poor health in a number of ways.
What Are the Symptoms of Bad Air Quality in Homes?
When toxins build up, you might not notice anything at all, but some people are sensitive to polluted air.
Some of these symptoms created by poor quality air happen quickly, while others accumulate over time.
Many of these symptoms are caused by other issues, but if you find symptoms easing when you leave the building, and they flare up when you return home—there may be toxins in your home.
Toxic fumes in the home are pretty common, and it’s not always because your place isn’t clean.
Modern homes have better insulation to contain heat and block out noise pollution—but this means fumes are trapped inside. You’re between a rock and a hard place.
What Are the Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants?
There are many indoor air pollutants, but the most common include:
How Indoor Pollution Affects Your Health
We’ve seen that polluted air causes symptoms such as dry eyes, headaches, and fatigue, which are bad enough to deal with on a daily basis—but these symptoms can lead to bigger problems.
Irritation to the airways can lead to allergic symptoms and asthma in the long term. Asthma still kills 11 people a day in the States.
Consistent headaches, coughing, and fatigue hugely impact your quality of life. If coughing and nose irritation are keeping you awake at night, you’re more at risk of heart disease, weight gain, and stress.
Air pollution can also affect your appearance. By restricting oxygen to your skin, pollutants cause wrinkles and sagging through loss of elasticity.
Some studies even suggest that in the long term, air pollutants such as limonene and benzene can lead to forms of cancer.
How Can I Improve My Indoor Air Quality?
Even if you don’t have any symptoms, improving your air quality is always a good idea, especially in the winter months when homes are shut up against the cold and we spend more time inside.
RELATED: 5 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality
Here are some ways to purify your indoor air.
1. Unless you live near a busy road, ensure good air circulation by leaving windows on the trickle vent or opening them for a while every day.
2. Use the extractor fan each time you cook. This removes fumes from cooking and keeps the air clean. Air purifiers can also help remove scents, toxic fumes, and airborne particles from the air in your home.
3. Houseplants are an effective way to get rid of air pollution because they remove toxins released from soft furnishings, such as xylene and benzene, and give us fresh oxygen in return.
The plants that best purify your dirty air are aloe vera, English ivy, and Boston fern, but any leafy green goodness will clean up air pollution.
4. Clean regularly by hoovering up pet hair and dander. Make sure you include vacuuming your mattresses and sofa once a week to collect up dust mites, pollen bacteria, and dust particles.
Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth rather than a toxin-filled spray, and empty bins on a daily basis.
5. Steer clear of chemicals whenever you can. Avoid BPA plastic, which is often used to make kids’ bottles; cut down on chemical-filled dry cleaning; throw away artificially scented items like air fresheners, plugins, diffusers, scented candles, and oils; and choose chemical-free paints.
6. Natural scents make much better air fresheners. Chop up lemons, limes, and oranges for the kitchen, leave coffee bean bowls in the den, and set out dried lavender in the bedroom.
Is Indoor Air Pollution Really a Problem?
Oxygen is one of life’s most basic needs, but most of us don’t realize we’re starving ourselves of a healthy supply.
Closing the windows to keep heating bills low and burning trendy scented candles may seem like you’re taking good care of your home, but in reality, it’s creating dirty air.
All living things need clean air for good health, and one of the best ways you can improve your family’s air supply is by encouraging fresh, clean air into your home every day.
So throw open those windows and welcome in the crisp breeze, even if it is a bit chilly; fill your home with houseplants; make a commitment to vacuum regularly; and get rid of those scented air fresheners to beat pollution.
It’ll be a breath of fresh air for everyone.