HOUSEHOLD AIR POLLUTION TAGGED AS A MAJOR HEALTH RISK
Household air pollution is one of the leading causes of disease and premature death in the developing world, according to a recent report by the World Health Organisation.
According to Simon Brewer, CEO of Solenco South Africa, “Indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality, and the extreme level of air pollution in general in our country is putting the health of not only sensitive individuals at higher risk, but also the general population at greater danger of respiratory illnesses, as they have continuous exposure throughout the day, whether outside, at home, or in the office.”
Looking to the culprits of household pollution in particular, Brewer points out that environmental pollutants such as asbestos are very common in older homes, while formaldehyde can still be found in paint, sealants and wooden floors. Stoves, space heaters and fire places release carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. While varnish, paint and some cleaning products can also cause indoor pollution.
“There are a number of factors, mostly unseen, that can contaminate the air we breathe in our very own homes, which we seem to be spending a lot more time in since the start of the pandemic,” says Brewer. A rOld Mutual study found that 56% of respondents are still working from home at least some of the time, following the COVID lockdown.
Brewer sites other contributors to household pollution as being:
Other harmful pollutants are linked to damp air. These include mildew, mould, bacteria, dust and mites, and pet dander. Damp air in the home can be caused by seasonal weather or simply living near the coast. Taking a shower, cooking, laundry dryers, even using freestanding gas heaters, can all cause damp air.
According to Brewer, most homes are not adequately ventilated, which is why both environmental and damp-caused pollutants tend to build up indoors. These pollutants are usually very fine particles, too small to see, and are linked to problems such as asthma, heart disease and respiratory diseases like chronic bronchitis. These diseases are considered as underlying conditions that could make people vulnerable to the effects of COVID
Building and renovations
September to December is dubbed prime time to renovate homes as homeowners look to sell during this peak property selling period. Wet cement, fresh paint, and old walls or ceilings demolished all contribute to indoor pollution.
“You cannot escape being in your house, because that is where you live and now for most where you work,” Brewer said. “But you can take steps to improve the quality of the air you breathe in your immediate environment.”
Brewer advises that an air purifier can help get rid of the contaminants in the air. An air purifier works by filtering contaminants from the air and so improving the quality of the air you breathe. He explained that good quality air purifiers use a multi filtration system including prefilter, Medical Grade H13 HEPA filters, Activated Carbon filters & UVC Light combined with a Photocatalyst.
HEPA means High-Efficiency Particulate Air and it works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps contaminants as small as 0.3 microns – too small to see with the naked eye. An H13 HEPA filter can remove particles as small as 0.1 microns, smaller than most bacteria and viruses and is above the standard HEPA filters in most products.
A dehumidifier is also another important air treatment solution to be considered if damp is your problem.
Brewer explained that a dehumidifier works by removing moisture from the air. “If your problem is environmental pollution, you need an air purifier,” he said, “and if it is caused by damp, obviously a dehumidifier will solve the problem. Often, both factors play a role in indoor pollution, and you can use both solutions simultaneously or better yet invest in a 2- in-1 unit which works both as a dehumidifier and air purifier.”For more information on the health benefits of air purifiers and dehumidifiers visit https://www.solencosa.co.za/blogs/news