Could your home be toxic?

Here’s how to re­duce in­door air pol­lu­tion

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - HOME IMPROVEMENTS -

Time to carry out some air qual­ity con­trol checks? Breathe more eas­ily at home with these tips, writes Abi Jack­son.

Out­door air pol­lu­tion in towns and cities is a key con­cern right now, but what about the qual­ity of the en­vi­ron­ment inside our homes?

Our safe havens can har­bour po­ten­tially harm­ful tox­ins and poor air qual­ity too ­ and while there's no need to panic, it's a good idea to be aware of how these things can im­pact our health, and steps we can take to pre­vent this.

Here are some of the key points to fac­tor in when it comes to in­door air pol­lu­tion in your home... What is 'Toxic Home Syn­drome'? The idea that our homes can make us ill is far from clap­trap (ask any­body with a lung con­di­tion, like asthma for in­stance, and things like in­door air qual­ity can be ex­tremely im­por­tant) and there's even a term for it: Toxic Home Syn­drome.

Toxic Home Syn­drome oc­curs when in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies are ex­posed to a po­tent mix of air­borne pol­lu­tants within the home, aris­ing from poor ven­ti­la­tion, caus­ing res­pi­ra­tory and skin dis­eases to oc­cur more fre­quently.

Things like mould, damp and con­den­sa­tion play a big part in Toxic Home Syn­drome. Symp­toms can in­clude fa­tigue, dizzi­ness, headaches and res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems, while young chil­dren and the el­derly, or peo­ple with pre­ex­ist­ing health prob­lems, are of­ten most at risk. In more se­ri­ous cases, in­door air pol­lu­tion could even con­trib­ute to ma­jor ill­nesses in­clud­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and lung can­cer. How can you avoid a 'Toxic Home' mak­ing you ill? Here are five top tips for avoid­ing Toxic Home Syn­drome... 1. Clean your air Make sure you have ad­e­quate ven­ti­la­tion in your home to take out the pol­lu­tants and mois­ture that can build up. All sorts of house­hold prod­ucts in­clud­ing can­dles and clean­ers con­tain po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous pol­lu­tants, and if these aren't re­moved through ven­ti­la­tion, they sim­ply build up in your home. 2. Wooden floor­ing

Car­pets har­bour dirt, dust mites, pet hair, fun­gus and other po­ten­tially harm­ful par­ti­cles that can ag­gra­vate the lungs. Swap­ping car­pet for wooden floor­ing makes it eas­ier to keep clean. 3. Go green when you clean

Use eco clean­ing prod­ucts which have fewer tox­ins and pol­lu­tants in them. Non­eco house­hold clean­ers can re­lease formalde­hyde when they come in to con­tact with the air, a sub­stance linked to can­cer. 4. Curtain call

Change your shower curtain reg­u­larly to re­duce mould growth which re­leases spores and tox­ins into the air. These can cause or ex­ac­er­bate res­pi­ra­tory and skin con­di­tions such as asthma and eczema. 5. Cut the mois­ture

Shut the bath­room door when show­er­ing, wipe down wet sur­faces, put on your ex­trac­tor fan and cover your pans when cook­ing. Ex­ces­sive mois­ture al­lows dust mites and mould to thrive, can aid bac­te­rial growth and af­fect the sur­vival of viruses. Watch what you burn in­doors A 'real' fire, as op­posed to mod­ern cen­tral heat­ing, might seem like an ap­peal­ing style state­ment, but what you burn in­doors could con­trib­ute to toxic air.

They may look beau­ti­ful as a state­ment fea­ture in your liv­ing room, but wood burn­ing stoves, par­tic­u­larly older mod­els, are con­tribut­ing to the air pol­lu­tion prob­lem.

As an al­ter­na­tive, con­sider a time­less cast iron ra­di­a­tor which won't leave you com­pro­mis­ing on lux­ury. Both the clean in­dus­trial and heav­ily or­nate mod­els make a strik­ing state­ment in con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional in­te­ri­ors.

Con­sider your can­dle choices too. Can­dles are won­der­ful when you're try­ing to un­wind. How­ever, though they look harm­less, many scented

can­dles use paraf­fin wax, which gives off the toxic car­cino­gens ben­zene and toluene when burned.

Opt for can­dles us­ing only nat­u­ral waxes like soy, rape­seed, plant and beeswax, to make your re­lax­ation all the more sat­is­fy­ing. Har­ness some plant power As well as look­ing good and nur­tur­ing a sense of calm, cer­tain house plants could even help clean up the air in your home.

Some plants with es­pe­cially good air­pu­ri­fy­ing qual­i­ties can help re­duce air pol­lu­tants by up to 80%.

The trend for bring­ing the out­side in is still re­ally pop­u­lar, as more and more peo­ple re­alise the health ben­e­fits of adding a touch of green­ery.

In­tro­duc­ing plants into your home not only cre­ates a fresh look, but it's also a cost­ef­fec­tive way to nat­u­rally boost oxy­gen lev­els, im­prove hu­mid­ity in your home and en­hance your over­all well­be­ing.

The plant pros at Dob­bies Gar­den Cen­tres (dob­bies.com) are also keen to high­light how adding green­ery can help en­hance the health of your home ­ so if you're un­sure what to go for, pop in and have a chat with the team. Mean­while, here are three of Dob­bies' top sug­ges­tions: 1. Bos­ton Ferns (Nephrolepis) One of the best plants when it comes to re­mov­ing formalde­hyde from the air. It's non­toxic so is a great ad­di­tion to any house, and the feath­ery ferns look beau­ti­ful spilling out of hang­ing or el­e­vated pots. Where to put it: Any­where How to look af­ter it: Keep your fern in a cool en­vi­ron­ment and give it lots of at­ten­tion. They thrive in bright spots but keep the soil moist and di­rectly out of the sun. 2. Aloe Vera

Al­ready well known for its health ben­e­fits, but one of Aloe Vera's lesser known ben­e­fits is how well it can re­move ben­zene and formalde­hyde from the air.

Where to put it: Great for the bed­room as it pro­duces oxy­gen at night time while pro­cess­ing the car­bon diox­ide in the air, giv­ing you purer air and a chance at a bet­ter night's sleep.

How to look af­ter it: Water deeply ev­ery two to three weeks and let the soil dry out a cou­ple of inches on top be­fore wa­ter­ing again. 3. Spi­der Plants (Chloro­phy­tum)

Pop­u­lar house­plants and great for elim­i­nat­ing sig­nif­i­cant amounts of formalde­hyde, xy­lene, toluene and am­mo­nia from the air.

Where to put it: kitchens and bath­rooms.

How to look af­ter it: These are su­per­easy to grow and will flour­ish in bright, in­di­rect sun­light. They don't need lots of at­ten­tion so are per­fect for those who are a bit for­get­ful or are just start­ing out.

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