Questions around air pollution outdoors are often on our minds: is the congested commute to work doing harm to our bodies, or is the smoggy haze above the city bad for our lungs? In Australia especially, bushfires and the accompanying smoke are well-known as risks to respiratory health. You also might not know that the burning of rubbish and other city waste is a major contributor to low air quality. But indoor air quality is often not considered as much of a risk, despite the fact that poor-quality indoor air contributes to the development of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, cancer, allergies and asthma. There are a number of things you can do to improve the air quality inside your home to ensure that the risks to your family and yourself are as low as possible.
1. Introduce Plants
Most people are aware that introducing plants to your indoor space can help to improve the air quality in your home. This is because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, filtering toxins from the air. A number of studies have also shown that people are more productive, recover from illness faster and have lower blood pressure when they are around more plants. Be sure to choose plants that won't grow too large, and if a plant dies, dispose of it carefully: indoor potted plants can quickly become weeds outside if not disposed of properly.
2. Consider Your Furnishings
Numerous factors can contribute to poor air quality indoors, including paint, furniture, carpeting and other furnishings. When choosing ways to decorate your home or office, choose eco-friendly and air-friendly furnishings. Especially if your household has any vulnerable members, such as young children, elderly or sick people, improving the air quality by simply re-painting or having couches re-upholstered can make a big difference.
3. Get Your Air Quality Tested
Once you think you've made some good changes, consider getting the air quality in your home tested. There are a number of services and air quality consultants who can come to your home or office and check the quality of the air. An indoor air quality test will check for things like mould, dust mites, pollen, chemical pollutants such as formaldehyde and lead, tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide. Costs for testing for all or some of these things vary depending on the size of your home and how extensive you want the testing to be.
4. Install a Carbon Monoxide Sensor
Finally, a simple way that you can protect yourself from one of the most harmful indoor air pollutants, is to install a carbon monoxide sensor. Carbon monoxide at low levels can cause headaches, nausea and confusion, and at higher levels can cause unconsciousness and death. Sensors are inexpensive and last for two to seven years. Place carbon monoxide sensors in an open space, away from cooking areas and in areas where the air circulates freely (i.e. not behind curtains or at the very top of a high, vaulted ceiling).
In these simple ways, you can rapidly improve the air quality inside your home to ensure that you and your family stay healthy. For more information and tips, contact your local air quality services.