Pollution inside buildings can have a major influence on the health, comfort and well being of building occupants. This is potentially a problem as people in Europe spend approximately 90% of their time in indoor environments.
What causes indoor air pollution?
Sources of indoor air pollution are varied and can be divided into two different types:
• Pollutants generated outdoors by traffic and industry that enter buildings by infiltration and planned ventilation;
• Pollutants released indoors from combustion of fuels, burning candles and tobacco, as well as release from building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, electronic products, toiletries, people and pets.
What pollutants may be present indoors?
Cooking with gas
Indoor pollutants may include:
• Nitrogen dioxide – produced from gas cookers and fires and outdoor traffic
• Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – released from certain paints, glues, polishes and cleaning products;
• Tobacco smoke – releases chemicals such as nicotine and tar into the air and pollutants such as particles and carbon monoxide;
• Carbon monoxide – released from faulty gas boilers or fires;
• Condensation – can lead to mould growth, which can release spores in to indoor air, and;
• House dust mites – tiny microscopic insects which live in carpets and bedding.
How can I improve indoor air quality?
Here are just a few ways to improve the air quality in your home or office:
• Bring in some nature! Pot plants can take up many of the chemicals that contribute to poor indoor air quality and remove them from the air;
• Open the windows! This will circulate fresh outdoor air through your house. Leaving doors between rooms open will improve air circulation;
• Smoke outdoors! If this just isn’t possible in winter, smoke next to a ventilation fan or open window;
• Vacuum and dust! This will help to remove the particles indoors that can contribute to poor air quality. Vacuum your furniture as well as carpets;
• Use environmentally friendly cleaning products! Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that get into the air when used. When you must use products containing harmful chemicals, make sure you ventilate the room;
• Store paints and solvents outside! Many common products used in the home such as paints and paint cleaners contain toxic chemicals that may be slowly released into the air. Storing them outside in sheds or garages will prevent this happening indoors.
Date Updated: 09/01/09