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Why We Need a Greater Understanding of the Risks Posed by Poor Indoor Air Quality

When we think of air quality or airborne pollution, we almost immediately think of the most easily recognised smog polluted cities and areas in the world including Shanghai in China, Los Angeles in American, the British Capital London and heavily industrialised cities like Ankleshwar in India.

On a far more localised level, the quality of the air in your home can be just as bad for you due to longer, more consistent and prolonged exposure to contaminants as this is where we spend a significant amount of our time.

These threats are largely invisible to people because the risks that are posed by contaminants and poor air quality in your home are not widely discussed or publicised by larger health organisations or bodies and certainly not nearly as often, resulting in distinct lack of awareness by the general populations.

Long into the past we were ill educated about health and hygiene, which lead to mass disease and sickness; however now modern science and medicine has provided a solution to these we find ourselves replacing them with new longer term health problems and ailments brought on by heavy and aggressive commercialised interest into almost every area of our lives.

When combined with the same modern science and chemistry, we start to see that the results are not always for the greater good.

What are the obvious sources of poor air quality?

Cigarette and Tobacco smoke, cooking fumes, compressed aerosols, dust, mould spores and mites, cleaners (glues, paint) and solvents such as air fresheners and sprays. Some of these threats are literally invisible to the naked eye as even the upholstery and furnishings within our homes emit trace amounts of chemical that make their way into the air. They’re usually responsible for ensuring fabric fibres feel soft and plush, prevent dyes from leaking and woods more resistant to wear.

This is not to say that all chemicals are bad, nature has an abundant amount of naturally occurring chemicals, some promote better health and are even responsible for reducing aging and are found in particular foods such as fruits and berries. It is only when we distil, break apart and recombine in differing ways in order to create beneficial properties that we encounter their adverse affects in terms of our health in relation to the polluted air we breathe.

What can we do?

The air within a typical home is far less disturbed or replaced, so make sure you’re opening at least one or two windows throughout the day in differing locations of your house. This will create a through flow that will quickly ensure the old air is replaced with fresh air from outside.

The only practical way to rid yourselves of dust, dander and pet hair is to ensure you’re cleaning properly and thoroughly. Hard surfaces can be swept and swiped down with a dampened cloth, electrostatic dusters will help to collect and clump dust together in order to prevent it from wafting from one location and settling in another. Upholstery and soft furnishings should be briskly brushed down and vacuumed in order not to cause unwanted or unnecessary damage.

If you currently use commercial air fresheners, then strongly consider switching to a natural alternative such as burning naturally scented oils or candles. Please be aware that the same brands placed on eye level shelves that develop the aerosols also have their own burning candles, however there are no guarantees that these do not contain the same artificial chemicals and compounds that have been added to make them smell sweeter for longer.

You are in effect trading your physical health and well being for a slightly more pleasant smell. Who do you think is getting a better deal? There are plenty of reasons not to use aerosols in your home.

We can certainly reduce the build up of some contaminants; however it is our change in attitude which I believe will have the greatest impact and ultimately liberate us. However this is not easy, it requires education, the willingness to overcome inertia and a change to our own attitudes and behaviours towards the products we choose to buy and use as consumers.

It’s important to understand that there is a price to pay when for certain home comforts, inexpensive conveniences and when we go looking for a quick fix.

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About the author: Kay Barber works for Midland Filtration Limited in the United Kingdom who provides commercial air filtration products and services to business and industry seeking cleaner and healthier air to breathe.