Ok, time for some pretty scary stats. We have all been aware that air pollution is bad for the planet, from contributing to global warming to creating the hole in the ozone layer. We also know it is bad for our health. But how seriously are we taking it, especially when it comes to home renovations?
It seems that in recent months – similar to how we are rapidly becoming more aware of the damage single-use plastic waste causes – scientists, politicians, and environmentalists have been releasing droves of research into how our lives are affected by air pollution, fumes, particles, and gases we pump into the atmosphere every second.
For example, the results of a study by the Lancet Planetary Health journal claim one in 10 asthma cases are “linked to traffic pollution” globally. And earlier this year, Public Health England published a review of evidence on how to improve air quality. It outlines how pollution is the “biggest environmental threat to health in the UK”, with 28,000 to 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure.
Should we worry?
It also claims there is strong evidence dirty air exacerbates asthma and causes the development of strokes, coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory disease. We associate pollution with mainly metropolitan areas, but it’s just as much of a concern indoors. In fact, recent research by the Environmental Protection Agency estimates the air in our homes can be up to “five times more polluted” than in big cities.
And a recent global survey by independent research firm Yougov on behalf of Blueair, who specialise in air purification solutions, revealed seven out of 10 people across the globe worry about what they breathe in their homes, I know I do now! Finally, and perhaps most alarmingly, according to the World Health Organisation around 4.3 million people die every year from exposure to household pollutants. Have I got your attention yet?
So, with us spending around 90% more time indoors according to the British Lung Foundation, there is an ever-greater need to create healthy environments. Air pollution can be caused by a multitude of things, including how you heat your home, your cooking style, poor ventilation, damp, chemicals in cleaning products, some building materials, and irritants coming in from the outside. However, more research results in more products, innovations, and helpful tips becoming available – from whole-house air purifiers and smart technology to the much-loved house plant or even making sure you open your windows more often.
So, now I’ve got all those pretty daunting statistics out of the way, I take a look at some of the latest products and solutions that help combat pollution and clean the air in our homes…
Nuaire’s Drimaster-Eco range
Nuaire’s Drimaster-Eco positive input ventilating range provides a whole-home solution to introduce fresh filtered air into your house at a continuous rate. The unit is mounted in the loft space, drawing in air through the filters and blowing it into the rooms below. Using little energy, it costs as little as one penny per day to run. The DRI-ECO-HEAT-HC system shown here costs £464.40.
The Blueair Classic
A high-performing air purifier will catch bacteria and viruses if it features a HEPA filter, which were developed in the 1940s and today are used in airplanes. The Blueair Classic, from £379, uses Blueair HEPASilent, which combines electrostatic and mechanical filtration, to remove virtually all pollutants.
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Ikea’s Gunrid curtain
Next year, Ikea is releasing the innovative Gunrid curtain in its stores. When activated by light, the mineral-based photo-catalyst coating breaks down common indoor air pollutants including odours and chemicals from cleaning products, such as formaldehyde.
Plants purify the air. At the most basic, they transform carbon dioxide into oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. Experts are unclear on how many plants you need, but NASA (yes, the US space agency) suggests at least two “good-sized” ones per 100sq ft of space to see a result. The Bloombox indoor subscription service, which delivers plants either monthly or once every quarter, costs £35; individual plants from £7.50.
Airthings’ Wave Plus
Airthings’ Wave Plus, £239, is a battery-operated, Bluetooth-connected indoor monitor which shows you the real-time air quality in an app. Apart from CO2 and TVCOs it detects radon – a gas that can cause lung cancer if you are exposed to too much of it for too long – and has temperature, humidity, and air pressure sensors.
Vent-Axia’s PureAir Sense
Vent-Axia’s PureAir Sense, £403.49, features Odour Sense technology, designed to improve the air you breathe. It is also equipped with an odour sensor that increases flow when air quality is poor.
Falmec’s, £849, uses ionisation technology to reduce all pollutants – including viruses, pollen, and cigarette smoke – in your home.
Featured image: Ikea’s Gunrid curtain breaks down common indoor air pollutants including odours and chemicals from cleaning products, such as formaldehyde. Available in stores next year.