Is your living space damaging your health?

Pollution hit the headlines this summer with the publication of the Government’s outdoor air quality plan, but did you know the air in your home is just as vulnerable? Indoor air pollution is often higher than on the street outside; two to five times higher, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, a joint report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health estimated indoor air quality caused or contributed to 99,000 deaths in Europe in 2018.

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Read on to find out how you can protect yourself from toxins in your home. TOXIC GASES Among the worst culprits are volatile organic compounds (VOCs): potentially High levels of VOCs can lead to ear, nose and throat irritation, headaches, fatigue and skin allergies dangerous gases that evaporate from certain solids or liquids, such as fuels, cleaning products and cosmetics. One culprit is formaldehyde: a common household chemical found in paint, varnish, glue, cosmetics, dishwashing liquid and fabric softeners.

VOCs are bad news for your health, contributing to ear, nose and throat irritation, headaches, fatigue and skin allergies. They’ve even been implicated in serious life-threatening conditions, such as cirrhosis, kidney damage and cancer. With other sources of VOCs including printers, wood preservatives, aerosols, cleaning liquids and air fresheners, this pollutant could be in every corner of your home. Reduce the impact of VOCs by keeping Is your living space damaging your health?

Windows open when you use the offending products, don’t stash cans of unused paint indoors (even when the lids are on), choose pump-action toiletries over aerosols and opt for environmentally friendly decorating and cleaning materials. Adding a few houseplants to your home is another way to reduce VOCs. A study by State University of New York scientists found that over a 12-hour period, the palm-like dracaena plant absorbed 94 per cent of acetone – the VOC present in nail-varnish remover – while a bromeliad removed 80 per cent of six of the eight compounds studied. A top performer was the flowering bromeliad Scarlet Star (Guzmania lingulata).

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