Do you find yourself waking up in the morning sneezing? Do you get headaches, breathing difficulties, nausea or coughing when you haven't even got a cold? The problem could be down to your indoor air pollution levels.
Every single home, school or workplace around the world suffers from indoor air pollution. Indoor air is generally twice as polluted as outdoor air. If pollutants can easily be inhaled and flow through your bloodstream, they can cause respiratory problems. This is especially concerning for asthmatics, the elderly, children and toddlers. Read on to find out more.
What is indoor air pollution?
Air pollution is often only associated with the outdoors. However, it's actually a larger concern inside the home than outside. The US Environmental Protection Agency found that levels of indoor air pollutants are around 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. As we spend up to 90% of our time indoors, we are at greater risk of developing more than just sinus problems. Pollutants can cause immediate, common reactions like sneezing, coughing, headache and itchy throat. If we are exposed to far too much, pollutants can get into the bloodstream and contribute to stroke and depression in adults. They can also trigger continual breathing difficulty as well as neural distress in children.
Knowing what can cause these problems will help you tackle them better and reduce your chances of becoming ill.
You may find some contributors to indoor air pollution you never expected. Broken down below are the three types of indoor air pollutants.
Bacteria and viruses
Germs from colds or flu are obvious causes. Researchers from the University of Buffalo found that some bacteria can live on surfaces for several weeks or months. These surfaces can be things like remote buttons, light switches, toys or pillows.
Mould and Damp
Mould is often caused by high moisture levels. Leakages, dampness and condensation will cause mould to grow. The kitchen and bathroom are generally key sources of moisture. Excess moisture can result from cooking, showering, drying clothes or poor ventilation.
Keep dusting those hard-to-reach places, as these can harbour allergens. Dust mites can also be a major issue and can trigger allergy symptoms and make breathing difficult.
If you have pets running around, you'll be all too familiar with the dander and hairs that they distribute. Although your household may not be allergic to them, pet dander can linger on your clothes. Even someone at work could react to it.
This is something hay fever sufferers are all too familiar with. Hay fever doesn't just exist through the summer - it may continue throughout the year. Your allergy symptoms in February alone could be due to hazel pollen instead of grass pollen.
These particles, such as cigarette smoke or cooking odour, have a big impact on your lungs. Passive smokers are often young children whose lungs are still developing.
Ammonia is found in some candles and some cleaning products, both of which can be harmful to you.
This is poisonous if you become surrounded by it. For example, a gas leak could result from the cooker not being turned off/on properly.
This is mainly off-gassed from engineered woods such as MDF and particle board used in mass produced furniture, flooring, and storage units. Over time, paint, wall boards and adhesives slowly release formaldehyde. This is a harmful-in-large-doses chemical mainly used in industrial work areas. Some researchers have found links with above average occupational usage of formaldehyde and leukaemia. Formaldehhyde is also used in fungicide treatments on carpets and underlays and in treatments on furniture and soft furnishings.
Some household cleaners contain isoprene and many other harmful chemicals. Cleaners are thought to be particularly harmful to health. A study by respiratory medicine journal Thorax found a link between prenatal exposure to common household products (particularly cleaners) and persistent wheezing after birth and into childhood.
Inkjet printers may be another little known problem for your health. They contain glyme, a chemical that some research shows lowers fertility rates when used too often.
What can I do?
You'll find pollutants all around your home. They are on kitchen counters, remote controls, light switches and pillows. If you or someone you know suffers from allergies, cleaning more regularly helps. Try to use as little cleaning products as you can (or use natural and organic cleaners). For example, your kitchen cupboard will be just as clean with hot water and a cloth. The most vulnerable people are children and the elderly as their immune systems are generally weaker than adults. Although it's important for children to build up their immune system, it's best not to let pollutants damage their short or long term health. Simple things like dusting, vacuuming or wearing a face mask whilst you clean regularly will help you live more healthily. For the elderly, it would be best to reduce as many pollutants as you can.
Aside from cleaning, you can help clear the air in your home (or office or school) with an air purifier. Air purifiers may reduce the chances of short term and long term illnesses, as they remove a great deal of biologicals, particulate matter and VOCs. The Heaven Fresh air purifiers emit negative ions, which neutralise remaining airborne particles outside the purifier range. WebMD states that negative ions are also "believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy."
Heaven Fresh air purifiers mostly contain these stages of purification:
- HEPA filters – responsible for most of the 99.9% germ removal. Captures dust, dander and allergens
- Activated Carbon filters – traps chemicals, VOCs, smoke and other odour
- Germicidal UV Lamp – destroys microorganisms including germs, dust, mould and bacteria
- TiO2 - effectively reduces chemicals, bacteria and odours
- Ioniser – these air purifiers release millions of negative ions
We provide a range of Heaven Fresh air purifiers, read below to find the perfect one for you.
Best For: Familes with pets, removing allergy pollutants, rooms up to 650 sq ft.
Not Good For: Rooms larger than 650 sq ft.
The ultimate purifier from Heaven Fresh. With a 7-stage cleaning process, it removes pet dander, allergens, pollutants and odour. This unit is the best for reducing illnesses as it has the addition TiO2 filter . The purification process includes a washable pre filter, dust collection grid, HEPA filter, Carbon Filter, TiO2 filter, UV Lamp and ioniser. It also has smart sensors to detect odour and dust levels in the vicinity. The 380A is slightly more advanced with LED light display indicating pollution level. The 380A comes with a remote control.
Best For: Removing all pollutants, family homes with pets.
Not Good For: Rooms bigger than 500 sq ft (unless you buy two of course).
One of our top contenders, the HF 310A has smart sensors to detect air quality in the room to remove virtually all pollutants. The 5-stage purification process includes a pre-filter, activated carbon filter, HEPA filter, germicidal UV lamp and ioniser.
Best For: Removing allergy pollutants and odour, homes with pets, moving room to room.
Not Good For: Rooms bigger than 400 sq ft.
The 6 stage purification process is ideal for any household rooms smaller that 400 sq ft. It can be moved from room to room. The filters may last up to 2 years when taken care of properly. The 6 stages include a washable pre filter, dust collection grid, HEPA filter, carbon filter, UV lamp and ioniser.
Best For: Moving room to room, little floor space, removing allergy/germs and many pollutants.
Not Good For: Homes with pet/s, rooms bigger than 270 sq ft.
This lightweight purifier is ideal for rooms 270 ft2 or smaller, and will reduce allergens and pollutants.
Filters may last up to 2 years when taken care of properly. It has a 6 stage purification process that includes a washable pre-filter, dust collection grid, HEPA filter, carbon filter, UV lamp and ioniser.
Article and views expressed in this article are from the Heaven Fresh team. Find out more about how air purifiers will help you over at the Heaven Fresh blog.
Disclaimer: Information included in this website 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.