Improving Your Home’s Air Quality
The home as a haven
We spend, on average, 90% of our lives indoors.
For many of us, during the pandemic this rose dramatically as more of us stayed indoors for longer as our lifestyles changed.
More of us working from home and the joys of home-schooling.
Our homes became our sanctuaries, our safe spaces against the world and the life-changing impact Covid would bring.
For those without private outdoor areas, the world shrank again, and our home environments bore the brunt of daily family frustrations and previously ignored niggles.
Space to breathe
We need our homes to be a safe and familiar space that reflects our personalities, bringing comfort and joy.
Space to relax, unwind and be calm, to revive and energise.
To feel at home, to enjoy family life, study or work with ease.
To breathe and just be.
When using holistic principles to design spaces, the main focus is on light and air.
Without these vital life-enriching elements, life can quickly become much harder.
The first step is to literally create a breathing space.
Open windows to let air circulate.
Creating cross-flow ventilation is ideal to bring in fresh, nurturing air, removing air-borne pollutants and viruses from your space.
Even on the busiest roads, the outdoor air quality is often significantly less contaminated than the indoors.
Mould can also build up in unventilated spaces, causing respiratory issues.
As well as around windows, it’s important to make sure that you keep a check on any furniture directly in contact with (particularly external) walls.
There are so many toxins and pollutants in our homes nowadays compared to our grandparent’s generation.
From chemical cleaning products to construction materials, toxic chemicals such as Acetone, Ammonia, Benzene, Ethyl and Methyl Alcohol, Ethyl Acetate, Formaldehyde, Toluene, Trichloroethylene and Xylene exist in the majority of UK homes.
MDF, plastics and synthetic fibres all off-gas – letting off minute air-borne particles which can build up within your home.
Think of that new car smell or the fabric conditioners which promise to last 6 weeks in your wardrobe.
None of this is achieved without chemicals and none of the above will do you any good.
These chemicals, and even a build-up of dust within your home, can cause mild to quite extreme symptoms.
From headaches to drowsiness, lethargy, nausea, anaemia, breathing difficulties, mucus membrane irritation and cognitive function impairment.
Formaldehyde is also a potential carcinogen and best avoided.
I’m not suggesting you throw away everything in your home which isn’t natural of course.
That isn’t a sustainable way to live either.
But making changes as supplies run out to a more sustainable option and carefully considering any new purchases is always a good move.
Could you repair, reuse, repurpose or recycle? Do you even need a replacement?
More and more suppliers are becoming more sustainable now.
It isn’t something we can take for granted quite yet, sadly.
It’s all going to be a work in progress for some time yet, as infrastructure and technological advances improve with time. But we can all do our bit to become sustainable.
Sustainability concerns people and planet, supporting the environment, benefiting our local and wider community as well as our own family’s finances, health and wellbeing.
Plants have been proven to improve wellbeing.
Studies have shown that hospital recovery times and medication required is reduced when patients have access to plants or a view of greenery outside.
Studies have also shown that office workers have a lower rate of stress and higher feeling of wellbeing and productivity levels increase when plants are introduced to workspaces.
Therefore, the biophilic effect of surrounding ourselves with plants promotes wellbeing on all levels.
Dr. Wolverton from NASA completed research to show the benefit of using plants to improve air quality.
Although there are many additional benefits to having plants in your home, sadly the findings were based on a closed room.
Assuming that you open and close doors and windows at home regularly, this means that the constant change of air supply to a space, reduces the impact that any one plant could affect in an average home.
Research has subsequently found that a small forest (around 93) of plants would be needed to achieve a significant objective improvement in air quality.
I would still suggest that anything is a bonus and frankly it all helps.
When dry, our nasal passages are more susceptible to damage from air-borne particles such as pollutants and viruses.
Plants emit moisture which helps to counteract the drying effect of confined spaces and the compounding effects of air conditioning or central heating.
This, therefore, helps us to avoid catching a cold (and why most natural nasal sprays are saline based).
Toxin removing plants
As well as replacing carbon dioxide with life-giving oxygen, Dr. Wolverton also discovered that some plants are also efficient at removing insecticides and fungicides such as formaldehyde, Xylene and Toluene.
The Top 10 toxin-removing plants:
- Boston Fern
- Gerbera Daisies
- Bamboo palms
- Dracaena Janet Craig
- Dwarf Date Palm
- Areca Palm
- Moth Orchid
- English Ivy
- Spider Plants
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