What causes indoor air pollution?
Read on to find out what are possible sources of indoor pollution and discover our tips and tricks to improve air quality in your home.
We spend 85% of our time indoors. It is now established that the atmosphere is up to 100 times more polluted than outside1. However, we can act! It is up to us to care about the air we breathe at home because there are a lot of actions we can do to preserve its quality. We could avoid the pollutants generated by our bad habits or renewing and purifying the air in our rooms, for example. It is not complicated, and it must be part of our “household hygiene": for us, our children, grandchildren, and everyone we love. Let's get started!
AVOID ACCUMULATING HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS
Using (and often abusing) synthetic chemical-based products to clean your home is a real source of pollution, not only for health but also for the environment. Indeed, they degrade not only the indoor air (with effects on the ENT sphere, for instance) but also the entire natural environment, with a real ecological impact. We can find them in wastewater, and even if some of them cannot be cleaned up, they are still released into the aquatic environment, with disastrous consequences for flora and fauna. So “yes” to a clean and good smelling house ... but not at any price! Not only a majority of household products are not natural, but, besides, certain mixtures are particularly dangerous. Thus, never pour bleach in a toilet bowl in which you have put, for example, a descaling agent (ammonia type): this mixture gives off toxic irritant gases, causing respiratory discomfort, tingling in the eyes, etc.
BE CAREFUL WITH AIR FRESHENERS
Odor eliminating products and other "scenting" aerosols can be worse than bad smells. Underneath their fake clean scent, they cover up without cleaning and are filled with synthetic chemicals benzene, naphthalene, acrolein, xylene. There are up to hundred synthetic chemicals in some air fresheners, according to the Environmental Working Group, an American NGO with expertise in toxic products. Air fresheners can be easily avoided by using natural essential oils instead to perfume small rooms and give them back their natural scent, a pleasant and fresh smell.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCENTED CANDLES
To chase away bad smells and perfume the house in a "cosy" way, we often think about lighting incense or candles, sadly, many of these products are polluting and toxic to the respiratory tract. Many scented candles are anything but natural: especially in the low-end versions, they combine poor-quality wax (not wax, actually, but paraffin, made from petroleum derivatives), artificial and chemical dyes and scents. It is always better to choose good quality candles made from beeswax or vegetable wax (soy, palm) with a natural cotton wick. It may avoid a large number of toxins and, often, the worrying black smoke. Here again, moderation is essential, as in the use of incense.
DIY – LET’S BE CAUTIOUS
Paints, glues, varnishes, solvents, vitrifying agents, strippers… Doing it all yourself is good, but the risk of pollution is significant with all these synthetic chemical products. First, it is imperative to DIY in a dedicated room with closed doors, so you do not pollute the rest of the house. Then, you have to ventilate as much as possible, during and after. Besides, in some cases, it is recommended to wear a protective mask, even if it is not stipulated - no question of zapping! Then, make sure to close all the containers appropriately to avoid evaporation, and to store them in a well-ventilated place (out of reach) until the next use.
Reference 1: According to the study on ambient air quality, from the Environmental Protection Agency, 2017
Reference 2: https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=ed1a9f6d-dad5-4c42-96cb-c4c7004e958a.
Extracts from 'Anti-Pollution Guide for a Healthy House' by Isabelle PACCHIONI, Leduc Pratique edition.