THE REAL-LIFE PRICE OF POOR INDOOR AIR QUALITY


Today, 84 million Europeans live in damp or mouldy dwellings, increasing their risk of developing respiratory diseases and life-long allergies.


Damp and mouldy environments can increase the risk of developing asthma by 40%, and a European-wide study found that 2.2 million Europeans have asthma as a direct result of living in damp or mouldy buildings. Damp can also provoke allergic reactions. There is only one really effective long-term solution to beating the consequences of a poor indoor climate – to replace the stale air with fresh air. Yet almost 6 out of ten do not air out enough in their homes.

SYMPTOMS

The most obvious symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, but there are other warning signs to be aware of, too. A sensation of a tightening in the chest, wheezing – a whistling or squeaky sound in your chest when breathing, especially when exhaling – and chronic coughing, especially at night or when exercising, can all indicate asthma.

SOLUTIONS

Here are three simple yet effective ways to improve your indoor climate. The more you can make them into a regular routine, the better results you will achieve.

1.


Air out with more than one window

The contents of indoor air include gases, particles, biological waste and water vapour, which are all potential health hazards. It is recommended that you air out your home three to four times a day for at least 10 minutes at a time, with more than one window open. Also, air out your bedroom before you go to bed and when you get up in the morning.

2.


Clean and air your carpets

… or better still, get rid of them. Thick carpets and furniture like old sofas are an Eldorado for dust mites and bacteria.

3.


Limit damp and moisture

65% of all Europeans dry clothes indoors at least once a week – and it’s a bad habit. Drying clothes give off moisture, which can lead to harmful mould and damp in the home, so try your clothes elsewhere if you can. If you don’t have the option to dry outside, try to open a window close to where your clothes are drying so you can remove some of the excess moisture. For the same reasons, make sure your bathroom and kitchen are properly ventilated.

EYES ON THE
BIGGER PICTURE

As well as new daily routines, it is also important to seize chances to make fundamental changes to your home’s indoor climate. We spend 90% of our time indoors and 2/3 of that time spent in our homes, so it is an ideal place to start improving your life indoors.

 

Improve your existing space

Think about how you can ‘bring the outside in.’ As most of us live in urban environments, to some extent we have alienated ourselves from nature. Even a step as small as adding some potted plants – which are known to purify air – can improve your indoor environment. In addition, think of how you could create a better view to the outside through smart use of windows and doors.

Grow your space the right way

Adding extra square metres to your home is a great way to improve your indoor life. Consider an attic renovation or extension and prioritise solutions that bring in fresh air and daylight.

Moving home

When you’re looking for a new home, bear in mind that older properties might have issues that will impact your indoor climate. For example, make sure you check that all windows can be fully opened and are functional, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Also, when you get to the redecorating stage, choose a lighter paint colour. These will create mirrored surfaces that will reflect light better in your home.


INDOOR AIR CAN BE FIVE TIMES MORE POLLUTED THAN OUTSIDE AIR

No matter where you live, opening a window and letting in fresh air is almost always preferable to breathing in stale indoor air.

WHAT CAN I DO?

There are many ways to get better air and daylight into your home. Some are quick and easy, others take more time but will give you solid long-term improvements.