Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, there are large parts of the population now working from home for the foreseeable future. Because of this, it is an important time to remind yourself and others to maintain healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) to maximize not only cognitive performance but also general health and well being in your home.
The Lockdown Problem
One key reason why the problems associated with poor IAQ are growing so rapidly is due to the recent drive towards air tightness and energy efficiency in homes. Whilst this may reduce energy costs, it also leads to a deterioration in air quality and the exacerbation of pollutants inside homes.
Poor IAQ occurs when there is a build-up of pollutants in the home to the extent that it affects an occupant’s health and comfort, and is linked to a range of health conditions.
Poor Air Quality
Common symptoms of poor indoor air quality can include coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, wheezing, allergic reactions, and reduced cognitive function. While long term exposure to poor indoor air quality has been linked to serious health conditions such as allergic and asthma symptoms, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, airborne respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease.
Types of indoor air pollution include moisture and mold, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), allergens (such as house dust mites) and formaldehyde, and more.
The Lockdown Solutions
Fortunately, interventions can be made to rectify poor indoor air quality and ensure your home is the healthiest possible environment to live and work in. To achieve this, it is important that you know how your house is ventilated, ensure it is ventilated properly and keep up a good maintenance and cleaning regime.
One of the most effective ways to reduce indoor air pollution and your exposure to harmful particles is to make sure your home is properly and continuously ventilated. Consider having a ventilation system installed and, if you have one, make sure it is switched on and properly maintained.
Swap your aerosols for roll-on and choose eco-friendly household products. Many people are not aware that consumer products like spray-on deodorant and air fresheners release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can be harmful to your health. In fact, products like these can contribute as much as 10-20% of VOCs indoors, similar to the levels that transport emits to outdoor air.
Did you know carpets contain around 200,000 bacteria per square inch on average, making them 4,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat? Carpets harbor dirt, pet hair, fungus and other harmful particles that can cause and exacerbate allergic reactions and health conditions such as asthma. Clean your carpets regularly to ensure they are not making your indoor air quality worse.
Remove Your Shoes
Going for a walk every day to get some fresh air and make use of the limited availability to get outdoors? Make sure you remove your shoes when you go indoors to stop pollutants from spreading. Shoes can collect unwanted chemicals, dirt and dust from outside and bring them into the home.
Let Paint Dry
Thinking about using your time at home to give your room a new paint job? Paints release VOCs which can be harmful to your health, so make sure the paint has properly dried before using a newly painted room.
Use Your Exhaust Fan
Cooking on a gas stove gives off nitrogen dioxide, acrolein, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide, which have all been linked to respiratory symptoms and cancer.