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Indoor air pollution

Indoor air pollution

The improvements in energy efficiency of modern homes can reduce our exposure to fresh air as well as reducing the airflow needed to remove potentially harmful contaminants. We can spend up to 90% of our time indoors so exposure to indoor air pollution can be quite significant in terms of our health.

The main problems of indoor air pollution include:

  • condensation
  • poor air quality
  • allergens and house dust mites 

How to reduce air pollution in your home

There are various sources of air pollution in the home which can cause problems, including:

​Sources of pollution ​Effects ​Prevention
​Household appliances ​Combustion sources such as fires, stoves and boilers can produce a range of pollutants including nitrogen oxides which can inflame airways and carbon monoxide which can cause asphyxia.

​Maintain good ventilation and ensure appliances are serviced and maintained.

Use a carbon monoxide detector.

​Tobacco smoke  ​Contains over 4,000 different chemicals, which cause a range of health effects, especially to vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women. ​Quit smoking or smoke outdoors so as not to prolong exposure or to expose others to smoke.
​Poor ventilation ​Can cause an accumulation of pollutants and an increase in water vapour, leading to damp.

​Ensure rooms are well ventilated, even in winter and especially first thing in the morning. 

Ensure air bricks are not blocked. 

Use extractors in the kitchen and bathroom.

​Toxic chemicals and fibres  ​Solvents in paints and household chemicals, formaldehyde in new furnishings and carpets and fibres from roof insulation and aerosol products can all cause inflammation of airways, especially in vulnerable groups.

​Use low solvent paints and chemicals. 

Ensure ventilation is good.

Use a protective mask if fitting roof insulation. 

Consider using liquid products rather than aerosols.

​Allergens and house dust mites ​House dust mite faeces are found in bedding, carpets and soft furnishings. They can exacerbate asthma, airway inflammation and eczema in susceptible people. 

​Keep rooms and beds well aired. 

Vacuum cleaning soft furnishings and mattresses can also help. 

Dust mites prefer damp environments.

​Moulds ​Moulds and spores are caused by excessive moisture.  They can cause allergenic reactions much like dust mites and exacerbate asthma in susceptible individuals.

​Keep rooms dry and well ventilated, especially kitchens and bathrooms.

Avoid using bottled gas indoors and do not dry clothes indoors.

Radon​A naturally occuring gas which can occur at levels considered high enough to increase the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers.​Test for randon and if necessary, reduce the radon level using appropriate ventilation.

Air Quality Strategy for Jersey
Damp and condensation
Be carbon monoxide aware
Allergy in the home on the NHS website
Radon

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