The air that we breathe is a key aspect in maintaining good health and it is sensible to conclude that we are in part a product of our environment.  Air pollution is no longer a distant issue exclusively related to cities and urban dwellings – it is something that we all encounter on a daily basis, whether at home/work or out and about.  Toxic air in the UK has now been labelled as a “national health emergency”, responsible for 40,000 early death and huge economic costs, reported MPs in March. 

Not only can this often invisible threat impact our general health, causing a variety of health risks including premature death (from short-term and long-term exposure), developmental damage and low infant birth weight it can also trigger other conditions.

Last month, The Guardian revealed data from the Office for National Statistics that indicated that in England and Wales 1,320 people died from asthma in 2017 (a rise of 25% over a decade) -  this comes amid growing concern about worsening air pollution and a lack of basic care.   Markedly, there has been a significant increase in asthma deaths in those aged between 55-64 years of age. 

Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.  Even people with healthy lungs are susceptible to swelling, irritation and infection, but for those with COPD or asthma, it can be much more harmful.

Indoor air quality

It may be more logical to think that poor quality air and air pollution are problems associated with outside and being inside provides a safe haven.  However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that indoor air can be two to five times as polluted as outdoor air.  This is partly as a result of minimal air movement and the possibility of poor ventilation.

Common sources include ingredients found in household cleaners (such as ammonia and isoprene), cigarette smoke, cooking odours, chemicals from engineered woods such as MDF used in flooring and furniture and formaldehyde (released over time from paint, adhesives and fungicide treatments used on carpets and furniture).  Other surprising sources include glycol ether which is found in inkjet printers and fragrances within scented candles, air fresheners etc. 

These particulate elements are in addition to biological, such as bacteria and viruses (including common germs which are airborne and can live on surfaces for weeks), mould and damp, dust mites and their faeces, pollen and pet dander.  Be aware of other conditions in the home that are conducive to poor air quality too – check appliances for a gas leak and make sure that your boiler is regularly serviced. 

Symptoms of air pollution include sneezing, coughing, nausea, itchy throat, depression and headaches.  All of this airborne litter can also trigger a variety of conditions including asthma, hay fever, chemical sensitivity, mould allergy and pet allergy and generally make you feel unwell. 

What can I do?

Certainly pollutants are evident all around our homes and offices.  Surfaces and items touched regularly such as remote controls, light switches and pillows need to be cleaned regularly – ideally using as little of the actual cleaning solution as possible or considering natural and organic cleaners.  The elderly and young are the most vulnerable groups as they tend to have weaker/developing immune systems and so benefit from an environment that has minimal air pollution. 

Other tips include choosing wooden flooring as it is less likely to harbour allergens, considering swapping existing cleaning products for natural or organic alternatives and maintaining good ventilation. 

The next step

An air purifier is a powerful solution that can dramatically improve air quality and reduce air pollution.  The range on our website all have particular benefits and features and can be narrowed down by room size or by what needs to be removed from the air. 

The best way to filter out pollution is to choose an air purifier with an activated or enhanced activated carbon filter or with photo catalytic oxidation.  Click here to see air purifiers to remove chemicals and fumes. 

The Blueair 203 Slim Air Purifier with Smokestop Filter removes gases, VOCs and formaldehyde that can aggravate breathing and the HEPASilent technology is an efficient way to remove a range of other allergens. 

The MeacoClean CA-HEPA 47x5 Air purifier utilises a pre-filter, true HEPA filter, PCO with UV light, enhanced activated carbon and ionisation technologies to vastly improve air quality. 

The Radic8 Hextio Air Steriliser Air Purifier, which reached 2nd place in Smogathon 2017 (global competition for clean air technologies), destroys a range of allergens within its reactor chamber that HEPA filters cannot capture.   

We also offer wearable options if you would like protection on-the-go.  Airvida have designed a stylish air purifier which is uses ionisation technology to eliminate airborne particles around your head including chemical pollutants.  Many of our customers use one during their journey to work, travelling, shopping etc.  These are available in three colour options; black, white and pink. 

Masks provide immediate and convenient protection and are available with different filters and in varying materials.  The Respilon Antismog scarf has been created with this particular remit in mind and has a variety of applications. 

Air pollution needs to be on everyone’s agenda; understanding where it is present, the potential impact on general health and how it can trigger existing conditions. 

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Disclaimer: Information included in this blog post is intended for information purposes only and is not to be used as a substitute for consultation with a medical practitioner. Images not necessarily to scale.

Sources:

http://www.lung.org/about-us/blog/2017/04/air-pollutions-top-10-health-risks.html

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/18/asthma-deaths-rise-25-amid-growing-air-pollution-crisis

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/air-pollution-government-strategy-needs-significant-improvement-report-committees-a8256361.html

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/22/indoor-and-outdoor-air-pollution-claiming-at-least-40000-uk-lives-a-year

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