People are spending more time indoors due to COVID-19, so your living environment and its impact on your health and wellbeing is more important than ever. Reducing pollutants in your home is also helpful, as is preventing moisture build up which can cause damp, condensation or mould. Both actions could help asthma and respiratory health generally, for both adults and children. Here are a few ways to help you keep the air you breathe as clean as possible, as well as bringing in fresh air and natural light.
5 tips for a Healthier Living Environment
1. Open the windows regularly. Airborne pollutants can build up in stagnant air. Some of these pollutants are obvious, smoking for example, but there are others that you might not be aware of like particulates from burning candles and stoves. Allergens from pets and dust mites can cause allergies in some people. Keep the air moving and bring in clean air by opening the windows regularly.
2. Keep the moisture levels down. Did you know that 4 people living in a 3-bedroom property will create 112 pints of moisture a week from cooking, showering, boiling kettles, drying clothes and breathing? This can lead to damp or mould which can aggravate respiratory problems. Extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens are often noisy but are essential to remove moisture and circulate the air, so use them if you have them. Dry clothes outside where possible and consider using a bathmat and dry up water spills after showering and bathing. Learn how to safely get rid of damp and mould in the link within the references below. If renting, you can contact your council or landlord.
3. Consider the Chemicals. Volatile organic compounds are invisible gases that may have adverse health consequences if they build up. They can be present in many household cleaning products, chemical air fresheners, paints and cosmetics. So now could be a good time to consider the products you use. Spray products get into the air more easily and can be inhaled, so is there a solid or liquid product you could use or even an alternative chemical free “eco” one? Alternatively consider if can they be stored outside.
4. Efficient Cleaning. Clean often to get rid of dust, pet fur and other allergens. Vacuuming to remove dust and dirt is important, but it’s only as good as your vacuum cleaner’s efficiency. Those with HEPA filters might be best for people with allergies. You can improve efficiency by ensuring you empty the bag or compartment regularly and if you can, try to do it outdoors to avoid spreading the dust around. Tidying might make you feel better about your living environment in general.
5. Indoor Light. Lighting can be a blight or a blessing, as it has physiological effects. The best source of light is the natural light from the sun, so aim to spend at least 15-30 minutes outdoors each day to regulate your biological clock. This regulation is important for sleep, hormone production and vitamin D production. If you are obliged to stay indoors because you are sick, see if there is some way to organise your recovery that incorporates letting in daylight, such as spending time in rooms lit naturally, near windows. On the other hand, blue light, from screens and phones at the wrong time of the day can inhibit good sleep which our bodies need. If you have problems sleeping, try making your bedroom totally dark, so dark you cannot see any chinks of light or glow from electricals such as alarm clocks.
Now more than ever, it's important to look after the space and air around us. There are some links to further information and reading below.