Home energy efficiency and indoor air pollution
When you hear about threats from air pollution, you normally think of cities covered in smog, with industrial buildings in the background spewing out emissions into the atmosphere. In this blog post however we’re looking at air pollution that’s much closer to home – inside our homes in fact. Indoor air pollution is a growing threat, and many people aren’t even aware of what it is or how to stop it. If this sounds like you, then read on.
What is indoor air pollution what causes it?
The air quality in our homes is essential for maintaining a healthy and happy living space, but can be polluted with toxins and gases which can impact negatively on our health, over time causing headaches and allergies as short term symptoms. A report last year highlighted the alarming statistic that it could also be contributing to 40,000 UK deaths annually, making it a very real area of concern. It’s especially concerning in developing countries where the majority of cooking takes place on an open fire, where exposure to these fine particles and carbon monoxide is much greater. In modern households, indoor air pollution can be caused by second hand smoke, carbon monoxide, radon, asbestos and mould.
What are the risks of indoor air pollution?
There are different risks associated with each source of indoor air pollution, with both long and short term effects. For example, the long-term effects of being surrounded by second hand smoke have been proven to increase your risk of developing smoking-related cancers, prompting a near-worldwide smoking ban on indoor public spaces. Prolonged exposure to mould can also leave sufferers breathless with asthma symptoms, and chronic respiratory illnesses in the long term. It’s crucially important to protect babies and young children from indoor air pollution as they are more susceptible to it, with the potential for much longer lasting consequences.
How is it related to home energy efficiency?
Making sure your home is energy efficient can really help manage the risks associated with indoor air pollution. For example having adequate heating and ventilation will help to manage condensation and humidity to control mould growth in your home, in areas other than the bathroom and kitchen where it can be more common. It’s also essential to have your air filters cleaned regularly to keep them working as efficiently as possible at extracting any toxins in the air. Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide alarm in your home too, to alert you immediately of rising levels and have your boiler serviced annually.
Improving indoor air quality at work
We spend a lot of our time at work and we expect it to be a safe environment to work in, which is why there are so many H&S policies in place, but having air quality guidelines aren’t normally a consideration. Your building should be free from harmful building materials, such as asbestos, and should be cleaned regularly with good housekeeping practices in place. If possible, electrical appliances with significant emissions, such as large printing presses or photocopying machines should be separated from main work spaces to contain any pollutants.