Australians spend more than 90 per cent of their time indoors, making indoor air pollutants an important risk factor. Pollutants such as unflued heaters, chemical odours, animal dander, moulds, and dust can cause sensory and skin irritation, neurotoxic symptoms, hypersensitivity, and odour and taste symptoms.
Are you doing enough to combat indoor air pollution in your home? Read on to learn 4 important things you can do to improve indoor air quality.
1. Control sources of indoor pollution.
According to the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Pollution and Communities, source control is one of the most effective solutions to indoor air pollution. Reduce toxins and irritants released into the air, service and adjust heaters and stoves regularly to reduce their emissions, and reduce or eliminate the use of cleaners and solvents indoors (common household cleaners may also contribute to indoor air pollution) unless you can ventilate the area properly.
2. Ventilate your home properly to move fresh air.
Inadequate ventilation is the largest contributing factor to indoor air pollution, accounting for 52% of cases of indoor air pollution.
Most people stay in buildings that are tightly sealed and insulated to keep out unconditioned outdoor air. There is little air recirculation, and while it minimises energy costs, pollutants such as smoke, dust, heat, metals, humidity and carbon dioxide will accumulate indoors over time.
Your home should be properly ventilated with exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms to draw out stale air and recirculate household air. A portable fan in the window to draw out old air can help to keep the air fresh and well-circulated. If this is inconvenient or impossible for you (especially if you live in a rented, small apartment), then investing in a good quality air purifier may help to clean and freshen the existing air in your home.
3. Invest in air purifiers to filter dust and pollutants out of the air.
Air purifiers help to improve indoor air quality by eliminating allergens and pollutants from the air. They often include one or more filters, including HEPA filters, UV filters, activated carbon filters, and ion generators. These help to rid the air of contaminants like dust, pollen, dander, mould spores, and smoke.
The type of air purifier you get will depend mostly on the air pollution level in your home and the size of the room. Always read the product specifications and features to find out which pollutants a specific unit is designed to filter.
- Large rooms and spaces will do well with premium air purifiers like the Ionmax ION390 air purifier
- Medium to large sized rooms will benefit from medium-sized air purifiers such as the Ionmax ION401 or Ionmax ION390 air purifiers.
- For smaller spaces such as cars, desks and office rooms, a compact air purifier such as Ionmax ION330 air purifier or the Marvel air purifiers like the one pictured above are ideal.
4. Keep a healthy level of humidity.
Moisture problems are another common source of indoor air pollution and can lead to indoor mould growth.
Dust mites and mould thrive on moisture. Indoors, a humidity level of around 30% to 50% is ideal to keep them and other allergens other control. If the air in your home is too humid, invest in a dehumidifier such as the Ionmax ION681 Dehumidifier, which helps reduce moisture in indoor air and effectively controls allergens.
For larger spaces or more serious indoor humidity problems, go for the larger, highly rated units – the Ionmax ION612 or ION632 desiccant dehumidifiers – both of which were highly rated by CHOICE consumer magazine’s dehumidifier review.
Other simple things you can do on a day-to-day basis include using an exhaust fan or opening a window when cooking, using the dishwasher, or bathing; venting the clothes drying to the outside; fixing leaky plumbing
Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Pollution and Communities, “Air toxics and indoor air quality in Australia”, http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/publications/sok/index.html
Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Pollution and Communities, “Indoor air”, http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/indoorair/index.html
Better Health Channel, “House dust mite”, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/House_dust_mite
Better Health Channel, “Pollution – air”, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Pollution_air
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, “State of the Air in Australia 1999-2008”, http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/publications/pubs/indoor-air-project-dwellings.pdf
Green Living, “How to Improve Indoor Air Quality”, http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/improve-indoor-air-quality-2811.html
National Asthma Council Australia, “Health Effects of Indoor Air Pollution”, http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/health-professionals/information-papers/asthma-air-pollution-asthma-series-paper-4-/health-effects-of-indoor-air-pollution
Victorian Government Health Information, “Indoor air quality”, http://www.health.vic.gov.au/environment/home/indoor.htm