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Indoor Pollution- David Flaherty Illustration

Tips for a Healthy Home

By Margot Cadic



According to recent research, the air in our homes is 5 to 10 times more polluted than the air outside. This fact becomes even more worrying taking into account that most of us are estimated to spend 90% of our day indoors. Unfortunately, we often disregard the threat of indoor pollution and don’t make the necessary amendments to protect ourselves and those around us. The consequences include both short-term effects such as fatigue, asthma, headaches, as well as long-term health damage, for instance permanent respiratory impairment or even cancer. Due to this, here at FranceInLondon we have decided to share with you simple ways to make your environment at home safer for you and your family.

1.      Get rid of dust.

House dust is responsible for several problems. Not only does it worsen allergies, but it also contains more harmful chemicals than you might have originally thought, such as pesticides, lead, and fire retardants. The solution to this issue lies in vacuuming frequently and meticulously; don’t be lazy and miss out corners and tricky areas such as under furniture where dust bunnies are in hiding! Twice a week is the recommended amount and you are advised to clean the vacuum bag and filter each time so that dust isn’t ejected back into the air. Invest in a strong suction vacuum with a HEPA filter (a type of mechanical air filter; it works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles) so that the dust and dirt go into the bag efficiently. If you are willing to go for a more radical option, replace wall-to-wall carpeting with cork, tile, wood or non-vinyl linoleum floors. Although more expensive, they are considered to have the most effective results.

2.      Air out your house every day for a minimum of 20 minutes.

It’s a simple task and yet its benefits are considerable. The dust and harmful particles build up in the air and remain there unless you let in fresh air. As we have previously pointed out, the air from outside is less polluted than the air within our homes, thus opening your windows to replace that contaminated air to a fresher one will most definitely improve your interior atmosphere. So no excuse, open your windows to circulate fresh air in the house for at least 20 minutes every day!

3.      Add green plants to your interior decoration.

Not only will it make the design of your home more attractive, but some plants have the virtue of working as air purifiers, hence decreasing the overall level of pollution in your home. Consequently do not hesitate to add vegetation to your indoors. Here is a list of the most effective ones:

·         Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

·         Marginata

·         Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

·         Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

·         Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

4.      Maintain a smoke-free environment

Nowadays, we are all aware of the harmful effects smoking has on our health. However, some still ignore how smoking within the home can dramatically increase health problems for all those living inside. Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, several of which are known to cause cancer. If this wasn’t enough to convince you, EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that exposure to second-hand smoke is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in non-smokers. Therefore smokers should refrain from smoking inside and relocate outdoors, especially when children or pets are around. Remember, the harmful chemicals from smoke stay in the air and continue to damage your health and those around you even hours after having stubbed a cigarette.

5.      Don't let humidity levels exceed 50%.

Mould is a primary concern for many. Mould loves moisture, and it is more likely to develop when the environment is humid with little ventilation. In order to prevent this problem try to maintain humidity level between 30%-50%. It will keep mould and other allergens under control. Also consider a dehumidifier and an air conditioning unit during warm months. Both will help reduce the air moisture in your home, so make sure once you have them you keep them in good order e.g. clean the vents once every month. Last but not least, don’t let the room temperature exceed 18°C.

6.      Wash your bed sheets and towels frequently at 60°C.

Indeed, it is recommended that you change your bed sheets and towels once a week and wash them at 60°C. It is important for you to do this because dust mites, who are commonly found in mattresses and pillows, love your bed sheets. These mites produce "faecal pellets" which are breathed in by humans and can become lodged in our throats if we do not regularly change our sheets. It has been estimated that an average bed can contain anywhere from 100,000 to 2,000,000 dust mites. The Ohio State University entomology department says that 10% of the weight of a two-year-old pillow can be made of house mites and their excrement. So don’t forget to change the bed sheets and pillow cases once a week and wash them at a high temperature in order to get rid of all these ugly little monsters.

Eye of Science/ SPL/ Barcroft Media

7.      Think eco-friendly and pick natural products.

The best way to keep your house and its air pure and clear from all harmful chemicals is to use the right products and materials. You can do so by using eco-friendly cleaning products. There is nothing better for your health than the use of natural materials. For your walls prioritise plaster and whitewash, and as for your floors opt for hardwood or laminated.

8.      Keep all electric equipment at a safe distance.

Do not forget that high levels of electromagnetic waves from electronic and wifi devices are also a form of indoor pollution. Therefore, keep laptops, televisions, and phones two minutes away from the bed. Invest in an alarm that uses batteries and unplug or turn off any other devices that claim to generate frequencies before going to bed.

If you make use of all these tips you will dramatically reduce interior pollution within your home and decrease your chances of being affected by any of the harmful effects. It’s definitely worth the effort!


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