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Indoor air quality – a bigger problem than you may think

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The levels of pollutants found in the home vary according to a number of factors, including how well-ventilated the building is. Energy-efficient buildings may be particularly at risk of poor air quality; due to thorough sealing and caulking of buildings, pollutants are more likely to become trapped.

Common pollutants that may be found indoors include (but are by no means limited to) moulds, combustion by-products, VOCs and formaldehyde, pthalates and radon.

These pollutants can arise as a result of many different activities and conditions, such as:

  • Burning fuels like oil, gas, coal, wood and kerosene can release combustion by-products such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
  • VOCs can be emitted from everyday items such as household solvents, paint, aerosols, cleaning products, office equipments.
  • Formaldehyde can be ‘off-gassed’ from, for example, chemically-treated mattresses, nail varnish, glues and certain kinds of pressed wood.
  • Pthalates can be released from common plastic-based household products, such as shower curtains, vinyl flooring, adhesives and PVC.

What can you do?

There are a number of simple ways to reduce your exposure to these chemicals, and lessen any potential long-term health effects that they may cause.

Keep your home well ventilated

Try to keep air moving throughout your home. Opening windows at least once a day for around 10 minutes will improve ventilation and reduce pollutants in the home. Beware of pollens if you have hay fever – avoid dawn and dusk as these times are when pollen levels tend to be at their peak.

Sleep soundly on an organic mattress

At The Healthy House, we always advise our customers to ‘go organic’ wherever possible!

Mattresses are a prime example of where this strategy is worthwhile. Memory foam mattresses may be comfortable, but memory foam products are often a composite of a wide range of synthetic chemicals including adhesives and petrochemicals.

VOCs are chemicals that are released into the air at room temperatures. These chemicals, often including formaldehyde, are so strong that you can sometimes smell them throughout the home after bringing back your new mattress. Even after that tell-tale smell has subsided, mattresses can continue to off-gas. Who knows what long-term health effects exposure to these chemicals may cause?

We offer safe, organic and comfortable alternatives, handmade in Wales using the finest natural ingredients. View our organic mattresses.

Choose wooden flooring

Avoid carpet, which can trap dust mite and pet allergens, and stay away from vinyl flooring which can emit pthalates.

Clean out your cleaning cupboard

Whether your have Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (M.C.S) or simply want to live a healthier lifestyle, you will benefit from switching to gentler laundry and cleaning products. We advise looking for products as natural as possible, minimising the amount of chemicals you can react to. VOCs and solvents are often found lurking in the products in the average cleaning cupboard, and also in paint.

Do you ever get tired, dizzy or have a headache when cleaning or decorating? Some people, particularly those with M.C.S, experience a whole host of unpleasant symptoms when undertaking these mundane tasks. The long-term effects of exposure to these chemicals are as yet unknown. For peace of mind, why not try more gentle cleaning products and solvent-free paint?

Please ensure that you thoroughly read the ingredients of products before you purchase, as not all of our products are fragrance free; some contain essential oils, which the very sensitive may react to.

Purify your air

The humble spider plant is a brilliant indoor air pollution-fighter. This resilient plant can help to reduce benzene, xylene and formaldehyde.

If you’re after something a little more powerful, why not try an air purifier? We offer a large variety of air purifiers, all with their own individual benefits, from fighting chemicals, smoke and odour to pollens.

Need help or advice? Call our helpful, knowledgeable team on 0845 450 5950 or 01453 752216 during office hours, and we’ll do our best to help.


  • http://www.who.int/indoorair/en/
  • http://www.epa.gov/region1/communities/indoorair.html
  • http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/indoor-measure-of-airborne-contaminants
  • http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/25/poor-indoor-air-quality-could-be-jeopardizing-your-health.aspx
  • http://www.lung.org/associations/charters/mid-atlantic/air-quality/indoor-air-quality.html
  • http://www.mnn.com/health/healthy-spaces/photos/15-houseplants-for-improving-indoor-air-quality/spider-plant
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