We spend around 90% of our time inside, and during that time we aren’t necessarily breathing any better. In poorly ventilated areas, air quality can vary by a factor of 100 compared to outside. It’s therefore vital to know how to protect yourself at home.
The main indoor pollutant culprit? Volatile organic compounds (or VOCs). These are mainly carbon-based molecules found as gases in the air—originating from household products, cooking processes or indoor mold. At high concentrations, they can cause irritations and decreased breathing capacity. Some are classified as carcinogenic.
But all is not lost! Simple actions can help improve the air you breathe at home. Here’s our best advice to vanquish VOCs and keep a clean air household this holiday season.
1. Even when it's chilly outside, you still need to ventilate! Ideally you should open all external windows and doors in your home for 10 to 15 minutes a day—whatever the season. Pro tip: Use the Plume Air Report to choose the best moment to ventilate when outdoor air pollution is lowest!
2. Cooking up a feast? Turn on the extractor fan. It’s also a good idea to ventilate after cooking as indoor pollution can worsen due to oil and other ingredients evaporating into the air.
3. Treating yourself with a scented candle? Make sure you read the label. (On incense and deodorisers too!) They smell good, but many fragrances are allergy-inducing. There are official lists of safe-to-use products, and harmful substances should be mentioned on product labels.
4. Go easy on the heating. Heat enables gas release, causing VOCs to spread more widely. You’ll also save money! Heating your home just one degree less causes a 7% drop in consumption. The ideal indoor temperature is between 19°C and 21°C.
5. Time to clean up? Choose your products wisely.Keep an eye on the label! It’s better to go for multi-use products, to avoid combining multiple irritants. Make sure to store these products in a safe, ventilated area. Avoid sprays, and try savon noir or white vinegar instead!