Your home—it’s your ultimate safe haven, your sanctuary and the one place where you can truly unwind and be yourself. In addition to that, it should also be where you feel the healthiest.
Unfortunately, for some people, their home’s indoor air quality can leave them feeling anything but happy and healthy.
In fact, studies by the EPA have shown that indoor environments can be two to five times more toxic than the outdoors.
Individuals with respiratory ailments such as asthma and those who suffer from environmental allergies or sensitivities may find that being in a home with poor indoor air quality leaves them plagued by coughing fits, sneezing, irritated eyes and breathing troubles.
Here is a look at five things that can contribute to the degradation of your home’s indoor air quality.
1. Cigarette Smoke
These days, most of us know that secondhand smoke is extremely dangerous. The toxins and carcinogens that it produces include formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. However, did you know that third-hand smoke, which is the residual chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke, is thought to be toxic as well?
The Solution: Place a total ban on smoking indoors, even when no one else is around.
2. Air Fresheners
Do you or anyone in your home suffer from allergies or asthma? If so, you’ll probably want to think twice before plugging in or spraying that air freshener. In recent years, a number of studies have pointed the finger at scented aerosols, plug-ins, gels, and incense sticks. These studies claim that levels of formaldehyde and the presence of phthalates could have a negative impact on the respiratory health and comfort many people, including children and pregnant women.
The Solution: There are numerous natural ways to banish odours from your home. Try making sachets of fragrant dried flowers, such as lavender, or mix a few drops of essential oils with water in a small spray bottle and spritz away.
3. Cleaning Products
Numerous studies have shown that the fragrances and chemicals contained in household cleaning supplies such as dish detergents, tub and tile cleaners, furniture polishes and even laundry detergent can trigger headaches and allergic reactions. Unfortunately, this can even include certain “green” cleaning products.
The Solution: There are several recipes for natural cleaners available online. In fact, most of the ingredients to make these cleaners can already be found in your home. These are items such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil.
4. Mold or Mildew
High humidity levels or leaks in areas in places such as windows, bathrooms, baseboards and basements can cause mold to present itself in your home. In addition to causing unpleasant odors, mold can cause respiratory problems coughing, wheezing and headaches.
The Solution: If you discover the presence of mold in your home, there are two possible solutions. If the affected area is less than 1 metre in size, you can clean it yourself (please note that gloves and a special mask are required for this task). However, if the mold covers an area that is larger than 1 metre, you will then need to contract the services of a mold remediation specialist.
5. Home Décor-Related VOCs
VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds are chemical byproducts which are present in many things that we use to beatify and maintain our homes. You will find them in things like carpeting, house paint, furniture and plastics. Once in your home, VOCs can release into the air for anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the product. In certain individuals, inhaling VOCs can cause headaches and dizziness, along with irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.
The Solution: Choose VOC free or low-VOC home renovation and maintenance products. These are items such as glass, ceramic tile, metal and stone, along with low-VOC paints, hardwood flooring and carpeting made from natural fibres.