How to improve air quality at home?
Sometimes pollution can be more predominant inside the house than outside!
What are the main sources of indoor pollution? What risks does it expose us to? What are the right actions to improve your home’s air quality?
Improving indoor air quality is a health priority
Knowing that we spend more than 80% of our time in closed places (home, work, school, transport, etc.), the condition of the air we breathe is a major factor that conditions our health. Exposure to indoor pollution can lead to various symptoms and conditions: respiratory tract irritation, headache, poisoning, etc.
What are the main sources of pollution of inside air?
Tobacco is of course the first indoor pollutant … and the easiest to act on! Then there are products used for cleaning or for improving the atmosphere (household products, interior perfumes, incense), DIY products (paints, glues, solvents, gardening products), building materials (glass wool, rock wool), products used for the manufacture of furniture (formaldehyde for example), radon, etc.
The right things to do at home to fight against indoor pollution
Regularly ventilate your home.
It is better to insulate your home, which translates into less energy expenditure. But this insulation hinders the renewal of our indoor air. It is therefore necessary to ventilate all the rooms every day by opening the windows wide for at least 10 minutes.
Even if it is cold, and even during periods of peak outdoor pollution, it is essential to ventilate in order to renew and mix the air, to dilute and remove indoor pollutants. Please note, some activities require even more ventilation: cleaning, DIY, decoration, renovation, etc.
Equip your home with a suitable ventilation system
The ventilation systems (VMC, controlled mechanical ventilation) installed in our dwellings provide general and permanent air circulation. Their installation and verification of their operation must be carried out by a specialist.
Make sure that the air inlets, grilles and exhaust vents are not blocked and clean them as often as necessary to keep them effective.
What measures should be adopted for each pollutant?
Reducing indoor pollution from tobacco
Do not smoke indoors, or even outside the window. Also force your guests to smoke outside. With 3,000 toxic substances, tobacco is the first pollutant present in homes, causing cancer by active and passive smoking, asthma, allergies, cardiovascular disease, etc. Each year, some thousands of people die from second-hand smoke.
Control pollution from household products and home fragrances
Ventilate when using household products, avoid spray products, do not mix products with each other (especially with bleach), follow the instructions for use, doses and safety indications, limit the number of products you use, prefer products certified as protecting the environment.
Avoid scented candles, incense and home fragrances, major sources of indoor pollution. Also watch out for stain removers or solvents used to remove nail polish.
Reduce indoor pollution from DIY products and building materials
Many building materials (paints, glues, solvents, glazes, waxes, strippers, thinners, lacquers, etc.) emit toxic substances such as fibers or volatile organic compounds or VOCs (formaldehyde, organic solvents , glycol ethers, hydrocarbons).
When you tinker:
- always wear the appropriate protection (filter mask, gloves, glasses),
- close the products well after use,
- keep them in a ventilated place and out of reach of children.
If the work takes place indoors, take regular breaks outside and ventilate. Prioritize the purchase of products that contain the least quantity and number of pollutants: read the labels, favor the eco-labels and consult the pictograms.
Please note, some new furniture (in particular agglomerated wood) gives off chemical substances for a certain time after unpacking them. Ideally, leave them for a few days in a well-ventilated place before installing them in your bedroom or living room.
Reducing indoor pollution by radon
Radon is a radioactive natural gas emitted by the soil that causes lung cancer (second cause after smoking). The presence of radon depends on the nature of the soil and the degree of containment of the site. If you live in a region with a high concentration of radon, work to increase the ventilation of your accommodation may be necessary.