Hear “junky air” and you probably picture chimneys pumping out plumes of grey exhaust with face-mask covered city residents shuffling through streets choked with yellow smog. It is enough to make you curl up in the house where the air is crystal clear. You think. Just because you cannot see the filth in the air, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
The common sources
The air inside your home can actually be up between two to five times as polluted as outdoor air. And given we typically spend a high percent of our time indoors – either at our home or another place – and these times up to 100% of our time we spend indoors, we need to take measures. As it is not a crystal clear affaire. Not only can outdoor contaminants creep in, mould, chemicals from furniture and carpets, and dust mites can also accumulate according to studies.
Everyday activities like cooking on a gas stove, cleaning your carpets, or cleaning your home can increase the amount of air pollutants you’re exposed to. Among those are volatile organic compounds (VOCs)— organic gasses which can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and some of which are carcinogens — and particulate matter, microscopic pollutants which can damage the heart and lungs.
More than 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas according to WHO. „Around 3 billion people – more than 40% of the world’s population – still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes, the main source of household air pollution“, outlined by the WHO.
The health impact of indoor air pollution
Over time, inhaling contaminants can contribute to health problems like stroke, heart disease, and even cancer, notes the World Health Organization. The danger exists year round, but it can worsen in the summer, when humid air makes it easier for mold to grow. Mold causes respiratory problems (coughing, sneezing, wheezing) in healthy people, and can heighten allergy symptoms in those who suffer from them, according to the NHS. But there are simple steps you can take make that air a little bit cleaner.
6 ways to clear the air
Turn on the exhaust fan every time you cook to sweep particulate matter outside, not in. Flip on the fan after you shower to minimize moisture so mold has less of a chance to start growing.
Add a bit of colour
Add some plants to your living space. According to the NASA, there are different plants that can help to reduce the VOCs in your home as they filter the air. Different plants can filter different chemicals in the air.
Air the room
Even when it is cold outside and tempted to keep the heat up indoors. Open the windows to get some air circulation and some fresh into your property. Opening the windows also helps disperse indoor pollutants.
Clean the right way
Vacuum carpets at least once a week. Wash bedding, curtains, and throw blankets in water that’s at least 60 Celsius degrees, and consider using dust mite-proof covers on pillows, as well as mattresses and box springs. And cut down on clutter. Stuff attract dust, so store away whatever you can. When it comes to cleaning products, read labels carefully. Some products, including rug and upholstery cleaners, floor polish, air fresheners, and oven cleaners can release VOCs.
Open the blinds
Rooms exposed to daylight have fewer germs within household dust, according to recent research published in the journal Microbiome. And if you are going to sit near a window for long periods of time, wear sunscreen (preferably coupled with antioxidants) or long-sleeves; some UV rays can penetrate the glass and cause skin damage. We all know the image of the truck driver!
Ditch your shoes at the door
Your shoes can pick up a lot, including pesticides used on lawns. In fact, 80 percent of our exposure to pesticides happens indoors, thanks to tracked-in contaminants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Apply skincare with antioxidants indoors
This won’t exactly clear the air, but it will mitigate the impact: Research has shown that pollution can accelerate ageing in skin, resulting in hyperpigmentation and an increase in lines and wrinkles. That is why it is as important to bathe your skin in antioxidants and hyaluronic acid when you are home as it as when you are walking in the park. They are the few types of ingredients that have been demonstrated to counteract pollution damage in skin. You can pick a formula with vitamin C and/or niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. A recent study found that wearing an antioxidant serum with these ingredients protected the skin against air contaminants, improving skin barrier function, lessening dark spots, and lowering oxidative stress.