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Rachel Lekman explores the toxicity of indoor air

At the time of writing, the sun is shining and I’ve got the window open to let in the slightly cold, but ever so fresh, Spring air.

Like everyone, I’m really looking forward to the time when we can all get outside more for long walks and safe meetings with friends outdoors.

And there’s a reason why open air meetings are deemed safer than being indoors of course, because there is less chance of catching COVID in well ventilated spaces, and you can’t get more ventilated than the great outdoors.

We focus very little on the quality of the air we breathe

Rachel Lekman Rachel Lekman Channel Marketing Manager

Five times more harm

But there’s another reason for talking about fresh air, and that is the state of the air inside your home, with indoor air quality (IAQ) sometimes being worse for you than you would think.

We all spend a lot of time thinking about what we eat and drink, but we seem to focus very little on the quality of the air we breathe – and this especially applies to our homes.

Yet when we realise that we spend around 90% of our time indoors and, at the moment, that is predominantly in the home for the overwhelming majority of us, then we really need to talk about IAQ.

Did you know that the air inside your home could be up to five times more harmful for you than the air outdoors?

IAQ animation Watch this short animation to explore the issues

Hidden dangers

Our homes can contain mould spores from damp and moisture that can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Gas cookers and boilers can release poisonous carbon monoxide if not serviced regularly and even scented candles can release compounds that can trigger asthma.

In addition to these dangers, our homes are full of things that release what are known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are released each day from all of the things in our houses such as dry cleaning, perfumes, paints, cleaning products, air fresheners and deodorants.

The glue in building materials and finishes such as MDF laminate flooring and even furniture can also give off harmful chemicals.

Choose natural products that are low in toxic chemicals and look out for new paint ranges that can be 99.9% VOC free.

Poor performance

In addition to potentially being harmful to your health, poor air quality can also affect your performance while working from home.

Studies have shown that cognitive performance can reduce by 50% when individuals are exposed to 1,400ppm of CO2 during a working day, compared to 550ppm which is maintained via ventilation.

This is echoed by a report which highlights that an increase in ventilation rates can lead to a 7% increase in performance in London schools. Whilst University College London found evidence to suggest that high indoor concentrations of CO2 impairs attention span, concentration and increases tiredness.

That’s why we are working with the Global Action Plan and The Building Environmental Services Association (The BESA) to raise awareness.

We’re also a patron of the British Lung Foundation’s Living Well Alliance.

It’s all about learning to love the air we breathe.

Rachel Lekman is Channel Marketing Manager