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Environmental Issues

Indoor air pollution is an important source of exposure. The average person spends around 80% of their time indoors and therefore, exposure to indoor air pollution is important to consider.

Pollutants and sources include:

  • carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates from domestic appliances (boilers, heaters, fires, stoves and ovens), which burn carbon-containing fuels (coal, coke, gas, kerosene and wood)

  • VOCs from cleaning and personal care products, building materials and household consumer products (paints, carpets, laminate furniture, cleaning products, air fresheners, polishing)

  • environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and second-hand smoke (SHS).

Actions you can take

Keep your kitchen smoke-free

When you are cooking, try to keep lids on pots whenever you can. This will reduce the amount of energy needed to cook and reduce the amount of pollution from your hob. It will also reduce the amount of moisture getting into the air, which can help to avoid mould.

When you can, open your windows or use extractor fans when you are cooking to keep pollution levels lower, especially if you have burned the toast!

Regularly service your boilers

Make sure your boiler is serviced each year to help keep it burning fuel cleanly. This should be carried out by a professional engineer for the type of fuel your boiler uses.

This will reduce pollution being emitted from the boiler flue and prevent carbon monoxide from being created and building up inside your house. It will also make sure that your boiler isn't wasting fuel (and money).

Check the labels on products

Take care when using cleaning products, aerosols, household sprays, paints and other consumer products. Always read product labels and follow the manufacturer's instructions and recommended quantities for use.

If you have to use these products indoors, consider ways you could improve ventilation, such as opening the window or doors. When possible try to use low-emission products (sometimes labelled low VOC) and consider storing them in a shed or garage.

When buying new items for your home such as furniture, fittings and flooring, look for low-emitting products. Consider asking the supplier for information on emissions and pollutants.

Make the most out of fresh air

Opening windows when you are cooking or cleaning can be a very good way to stop air pollution from building up inside your house. It allows fresh air in and stops the concentration of pollution from getting too high.

Sometimes, if your home is near a busy road, air pollution from traffic can get into your house from the outside. If you are worried about the levels of pollution near your home, think about which windows you open, and try to open those that are furthest away from the roads rather than those that are closest to the roads. Try to close your windows during rush hour when the outdoor air pollution is at its worst.

To help prevent mould use trickle vents (found on some windows) and extractor fans or open the window (if possible and safe). You can help avoid moisture by drying clothes outdoors, repairing water leaks/damage and using extractor fans or opening windows (if possible and safe), when bathing and showering.

Save energy

Reducing the amount of energy that you use in your home will also help with air pollution, close to home and for the country as a whole.

If you insulate your home well, you can reduce the amount of energy that goes into keeping it warm. That means you will burn less gas, oil or wood, or use less electricity. And that means you are creating less pollution around your home.

Turning appliances off when you are not using them will also save electricity, and that will reduce the amount of air pollution created at power stations.

Measures to reduce exposure to allergens

People with respiratory allergies (such as asthma and rhinitis) will benefit if steps are taken to reduce their exposure to allergens, such as house dust mites, mould and pets.

Measures that can help:

  • reducing dust and dampness in the home

  • regularly cleaning items which collect dust such as soft toys

  • vacuuming regularly

  • if you’re renovating or moving to a new house try to replace carpets with hard flooring

  • washing bedding and covers (at 60 degrees every two weeks), or using allergen-impermeable covers

  • avoid exposure to furry pets if possible, or vacuum regularly if exposed to pet hair at home

  • avoid smoking inside your home.

If you are concerned about your child's health, contact your GP.