You probably think you’re in the clear from pollution in the safety of your own home, but think again! You might be surprised at the dangerous chemicals and spores flourishing within your four walls, with the research showing they may be 10 times more concentrated inside!
Your home is your castle, and it should be place of comfort and safety, but have you ever considered the air you breathe inside your home? It's easy to assume that the air indoors is clean – or at least cleaner than outside – but the reality is that indoor air quality can be compromised by a variety of factors, made worse by the fact that so many of us aren’t even aware of the dangers. Perhaps you wipe your bench down every night, clean the windows and mop the floor – but what are you doing about the air?
The rise in respiratory conditions is a significant concern, and while outdoor pollution plays a major role, it's also closely linked to indoor air quality issues. Here are a number of conditions we’ve seen skyrocket in numbers:
Asthma: The increased presence of allergens, particulate matter, and other irritants in indoor air can contribute to the development of asthma and exacerbate asthma symptoms in those already diagnosed with the condition. Long-term exposure to indoor air pollution can lead to chronic asthma.
Bronchitis: Exposure to pollutants like tobacco smoke and other indoor contaminants can irritate the airways and lead to bronchitis, which is characterised by inflammation of the bronchial tubes and increased mucus production.
Pneumonia: Poor indoor air quality can weaken the respiratory system's defences, making individuals more susceptible to infections like pneumonia.
Radon-Related Lung Cancer: Radon gas, which is often found in homes, is a leading cause of lung cancer. Long-term exposure to elevated levels of radon significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Carbon monoxide (CO) exposure can lead to poisoning, which affects the respiratory system. High levels of CO can interfere with the body's ability to transport oxygen, leading to symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness and can even cause comas.
Here are five toxins you might be unknowingly breathing in within the confines of your own home.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
VOCs are chemicals that can easily vaporise into the air, and they're more common in your home than you might think. These compounds can be found in household items like paints, cleaning products, and even some furniture. Over time, they release into the air, contributing to indoor air pollution. Prolonged exposure to VOCs can lead to various health issues.
Mould and Mildew
Mould is a fungus which flourishes in damp environments, with the World Health Organisation estimating that nearly 50% of Aussie homes are populated by it. A parliamentary inquiry into mould illness in Australia found that this toxin can cause symptoms like sinus issues, congestion, headaches and a weakened immune system.
But even just a little bit of black mould exposure can cause a range of disconcerting symptoms – take a look at some of the common ones to look out for:
- Sinus congestion
- Skin irritation and rashes
- Watery eyes
- Chest pain and tightness
These fungi release spores that become airborne and can lead to allergies, respiratory problems, and even more severe health concerns if left unchecked. Proper ventilation and moisture control are crucial in preventing mould growth.
Dust mites are microscopic creatures that feed on dust particles. They thrive in bedding, carpets, and upholstery, and their faeces can become airborne when disturbed. Yep – you could be breathing in dust mite poo every night! Talk about an SBD! Allergies and asthma are often exacerbated by dust mite exposure, so if you’ve found yourself sneezing and sniffling a lot lately, it could be worth looking into.
Radon is a radioactive gas that can seep into your home through the ground – sounds somewhat post-apocalyptic (really, what doesn’t at this point?) but it’s a fairly common occurrence. It's colourless and odourless, making it impossible to detect without testing. Radon exposure is a known cause of lung cancer, and it's worth testing for it in your home. What happens if radon is detected? You can use a method known as subslab depressurisation, it’s a common and reliable way to remove the radon since your air purifier doesn’t stand a chance against this stuff. Suction pipes are placed through the floor into the soil below, and voila! Radon begone.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
This deadly gas is produced when fuels like wood, gas, or oil don't burn completely – malfunctioning appliances and poor ventilation are often to blame. It can come from faulty appliances or improper ventilation. Exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to poisoning and severe health issues, so it's essential to have working CO detectors in your home.
Improving Your Indoor Air Quality
One of the most significant issues with these indoor air quality problems is the lack of awareness. Many people are blissfully unaware that their homes might contain these invisible threats – after all, who would know to look out for something you can’t see, feel or smell? By understanding the risks and taking appropriate measures to improve indoor air quality, we can create safer and healthier homes. Regular ventilation, air purification, humidity control, and routine maintenance are critical steps to take. By doing so, we can reduce the risks associated with these often undetected indoor pollutants and breathe easier in our homes. The good news is that you can take steps to improve your indoor air quality. Here are some tips:
Ventilation: Regularly air out your home by opening windows and doors. This helps exchange indoor air with fresh outdoor air.
Air Filtration: Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to remove particles from the air.
Humidity Control: Keep humidity levels in check to prevent mould growth. A dehumidifier can help in damp areas.
Regular Cleaning: Dust and vacuum your home regularly to minimise dust mites and other allergens.
Routine Maintenance: Ensure that your heating and cooling systems are well-maintained to prevent carbon monoxide leaks.
Taking these precautions can significantly reduce your exposure to indoor air pollutants and help create a healthier and safer living environment for you and your family. Remember, your home should be a place of wellbeing in every sense.
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