Indoor air pollution, What is it & How can you prevent it?

We often hear about air pollution, its impacts on our health and the health of the planet. But have you ever heard about indoor air pollution? Have you even ever thought that the pollution in your home might even be higher than the pollution outside? Indeed, many studies have found that the indoor air might be 5 to 7 times (maybe more) more polluted than the one outside. What? Shocking we know! Don’t worry, we are here to let you know what simple things you can do to decrease indoor pollution & try to prevent it.

What is indoor air pollution?

We probably spend about 80% of our time indoor, either at work, home, restaurants, school, shopping centers, etc. The new teleworking age is definitely not helping as we spend even more time inside and in places that have not been thought for us to be locked in all day long.

So before talking about the practical steps you can take to prevent indoor air pollution, let’s define what it is and its main sources.

Indoor air pollution is dust, dirt, or gases in the air inside buildings that could be harmful to breathe in. Inside our homes and buildings, we can find hundreds of particle matters (also known as volatile organic compounds) which are tiny particles of dust and dirt in the air. We can also find gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulphur dioxide. Indoor air quality has been linked to different risks and symptoms that go from problems breathing to asthma and even lung cancer.

Now that you know what is indoor air pollution, let’s have a look at its most common causes.

  • The house itself and the building materials. The choices that have been made to build your house and the different building materials used have a huge impact on the quality of indoor air. Think about things like paint, ventilation & heating systems, etc.
  • Cooking and heating in your house. You probably don’t think about it very often but whenever you are heating the house or even cooking, small particle matters are released into the house. Specifically, when you use wood or coal to heat the house or gas to cook.
  • The cleaning products used to actually clean the house.
  • Your house furniture and decorations.

How can you prevent indoor pollution?

Let’ be honest, there are some causes of indoor air pollution that you can’t have a direct impact on. Indeed, if you house is older or you are renting it, you might not be able to renovate it or change the building materials used around it. Though, you can definitely try to clean the ventilation system a few times a year and make sure the cooking and heating systems are serviced regularly. Also, opening your windows daily at least 15 to 30 minutes is very important to freshen up the air.

Regarding the house furniture and decoration used around the house, you want to make sure you are using as much natural materials as possible, such as naturally treated wood, cotton, linen, ceramic etc. If available to you, you can even decide to use second hand furniture which means that there will be less versatile organic compounds. If you are buying new furniture and decoration, it would be great to air it out for a few weeks before bringing it in the house (maybe you can leave it in the garage for a few weeks?). Also, a good way to decorate your house and make it safer to be in is to use plants as decoration. Plants are very helpful at purifying the air so don’t be afraid to be a “plant parent” and add as much green as you can.

Finally, you can have a huge impact on the reduction of indoor air pollution by choosing safer & more ecological cleaning products. Indeed, every time you wash the house some volatile organic compounds are released into the air so you want to choose the safest options to avoid these. The switch between toxic to non-toxic cleaning products is easy to do, not expensive and as efficient. You might even save some money & time in the long run. To learn more about non-toxic cleaning products, please read our article right here.