How to Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
by Sally Keys
Australians spend over 90% of their time either indoors or in vehicles. While you may think that most pollution comes from cars and factories, the truth is that the air inside your home is where the real problem of pollution occurs. Modern homes in Australia tend to be airtight, which is great news for the environment as it reduces the need for energy to be used as heating. However, it leaves very little means for any air pollutants to escape. They instead become trapped in an enclosed space with nowhere to go but into your lungs. If you’re already limiting your use of fossil fuels outside the home, turn your attention to limiting pollution inside to save the planet and improve your health.
Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
4.3 million people a year are killed as a result of indoor air pollution, making it a greater threat to human life than outdoor air pollution. This is due to inhaling polluted air, causing stroke, heart disease and lung cancer. This is more commonly a problem in overcrowded developing countries but can affect anyone who spends a lot of their time at home. Typically, household air is dirtier than outside air.
With homes continuing to use polluting fuel for cooking and heating, the impact on the environment is enormous. Inefficient cookers release black carbon and methane. Black carbon’s effect on the environment is 1.1 watts per square meter, making it the second most harmful chemical to carbon dioxide. This harms ecosystems, increases the global temperature and reduces agricultural productivity.
What You Can Do
The best thing you can do is to be aware of which products in your home release pollutants. This includes dust from furniture, gas appliances, air fresheners, cleaning products and health and beauty products.
Go through everything in your home and try and find a natural alternative. Beauty products made from natural products such as coconut oil or chamomile tea will provide the same effects without any of the pollutants. Typical moisturisers contain phthalates and propylene glycol. If you see these listed on the ingredients, try switching.
The same goes for cleaners, avoid ammonia, bleach and chlorine and instead go for bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and lemon. These can be bought from natural cleaner retailers or homemade. If you ever use any polluting chemicals, leave ventilation fans running and windows open. This allows the particles to disperse so that they are not concentrated in an enclosed space.
This will benefit your health, but won’t do much for the environment, so the key is to use natural alternatives. Of course, one of the biggest changes you can make is to switch to green energy. This allows you to heat and power your home, guilt-free.
Saving the planet happens at a governmental, organisational and individual level. The first stage is to understand which products are harmful to the environment and why. Then you can begin to live more sustainably. Start with the easy things such as cleaning and beauty products before trying to switch to green energy entirely.
Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.