This time of year it may feel cosy being sealed tight inside against the cold weather. You might even be quietly smug about the Hygge vibes that you have created with glowing candles. However, doing all of this can exacerbate the pollution and toxic indoor air quality within your home.
For decades there has been increased public awareness on the dangers of pollution and toxic air outdoors for city dwellers. Unlike outdoor air, the air inside our homes is largely unregulated and has been all but ignored by researchers even though we spend close to 90% of our time indoors (even in Australia). The most common sources of indoor air pollutants include, Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), house dust mites allergens and mold spores.
VOCs are most often found in paints, carpet adhesives, cleaning products and most scented products like candles and air fresheners. Dust mite allergens are common in carpet, bedding and furniture, they can cause aggravation of asthma, nasal inflammation and eczema. Mould spores can be extremely harmful for your health and are of course found in damp rooms like bathrooms and window sills. Combine all of this with combustion particles that can float inside from car exhausts and gas stoves and it is easy to see how our indoor air quality can be causing us so much harm.
Don’t freak out though, there are some quick and easy to more extreme solutions you can implement to improve your indoor air quality.
It may sound obvious, but throwing open the windows and ventilating your home reduces moisture levels and allows stale indoor air and heating systems to circulate better. This may be tricky in the colder months, so I tend to open my windows just for 15-20mins every few hrs just to get the fresh air circulating, especially after cooking. Scientists who measured indoor air quality found that cooking a single meal on a gas stove can produce levels of nitrogen dioxide that would be considered to be unsafe if outside.
Although candles smell lovely and create a warm and cosy atmosphere, they can actually be very harmful to your health. Without a doubt never buy paraffin candles which are made from petroleum and release benzene and soot into the air. The verdict is still out on soy candles and generally if they have a scent (unless organically and naturally derived) they emit toxins into the air. I would always recommend beeswax candles as they act as a natural air purifiers, have a lovely subtle honey scent and burn slowly.
Surrounding yourself with nature can only ever be a good move. Just looking at greenery can improve your immune system and having houseplants help to purify the air within your home by absorbing toxins like ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene. The best plants to filter the air are Peace Lilys, Lady Palm or Broadleaf Lady Palm. If you work from home then English Ivy is great to be kept near computers and printers while Spider Plants help to control carbon monoxide … I keep one near my gas stove!
Having an air purifier on its own does not reduce air pollution adequately, however combining it with the recommendations above as well as regular cleaning with eco friendly cleaning products will make a big difference. Suitable air cleaners can be relatively costly as they do require maintenance and regular replacement of filters, so be sure that you invest in a good quality one.
Make sure the air purifier has a HEPA filter system which ensures the removal of smaller particles and it is important to ensure that it does not produce ozone as a by product. This does take a bit more time and effort to ensure, so we have done the research for you! All of our product recommendations are unbiased, independent advice you can trust, we receive no revenue from these recommendations.
top of the line
Blueair 405 Air Purifier
Trust the Swedish to nail quality and sleek design. This air purifier was given the highest overall score of all air purifiers tested at Testfakta 2017. Great for removing dust, allergens and city pollution for a medium sized place.
Phillips Air Purifier
When we say ‘best value’ this product still costs £400, but compared to the Dyson option it is half the price. This model still has a True HEPA filter and covers approx 650 sq ft.
Blue Air Blue Pure 411
Perfect for small spaces and if you don’t have any serious allergies. Cute and compact, this is the perfect air filter if you want something that can move with you around the house.