As homes become better insulated and our awareness of the home environment rises, removing pollutants and allergens is becoming increasingly important in contemporary interior design. In fact, the US Environmental Protection Agency has stated that air pollution can be up to 5 times worse indoors, than outdoors. Through many tests, we have compiled the most common reasons for air pollution and look at ways you can improve your home’s air quality.
1. You’ve recently painted walls.
It’s second nature to open all windows during and after painting and varnishing, and for good reason. While paint’s ability to cause headaches and dizziness is well-established, it is only recently that most consumers have readily considered the VOC (volatile organic compounds) contents of what’s on their paint brushes. Formerly only a few paint manufacturers offered zero VOC paints, but now most makers offer low or zero VOC alternatives, so be sure to check labels.
2. You’ve recently installed new flooring or carpet, or bought new furniture.
Similarly to paint, artificial varnishes and glues can release chemicals. Always check with your supplier for what components make up what you’re buying so you can make an informed decision.
3. You live on a busy road.
Car exhaust emissions, petrol fumes and dust are all well-known street pollutants. Accordingly, those who live by busy roadways are not in the habit of opening their home’s windows. While this does stop air pollution from easily getting inside, sealing up your home with no ventilation at all, is not ideal either. As such, mechanical ventilation may be necessary.
4. You buy cleaning products.
Most shop-bought cleaning products contain gases and chemicals that enter the air when you open them or spray the product. However, cleaning products can even release emissions when they are being stored unopened, so bulk buying is not advised. If you’re conscious of this, opt for eco-friendly products or make your own detergents with combinations of baking soda, vinegar and tea tree oil, with citrus juice and rinds.
5. Someone in your household smokes indoors.
This is an obvious one but overlooked often. On top of the hazards of second-hand smoke, smoking also releases a distinct odor that can linger for years.
6. You live in an old house.
There are many air quality factors to consider with older buildings. In construction, many use less-advanced materials that release VOCs, while poor sealing can allow exterior pollution and allergens inside. Also, if your home is prone to moisture, molds can also become airborne. An air purifier and dehumidifier combo can deal with a myriad of these issues.
7. You’re a big fan of candles/potpourri products.
Many candles produced on a mass scale use artificial ingredients, such as “limonene”, which has been shown to change to formaldehyde when exposed to air. Look at candle and fragranced product ingredients the same way you’d look at a food label.