5 ways to improve indoor air quality and keep your home clean this winter

Green is the healthiest colour scheme for your home.
Green is the healthiest colour scheme for your home.  

During the cooler months, we're drawn to the warmth and cosiness of indoors, but rugging up and snuggling down can hold hidden nasties.

The air circulating inside your home can contain a number of pollutants, including potentially harmful particles from the outdoors, and indoor pollutants which can arise from everyday activities such as heating, cooking, cleaning, smoking, perfumes and furnishings.Alongside possible pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur oxide you can also find chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which may be released by the plastics and synthetics in carpets, furniture, glues, computers, detergents and paints.

When scientists at CSIRO [1] tested for pollutants inside a range of Australian homes, they found the concentration of many of these airborne nasties was significantly higher than outside. And in winter, with less ventilation, this mix can linger and intensify.

Green your home

There's no doubt: green is the healthiest colour scheme for your home. Plants can absorb and degrade air pollutants including VOCs, while releasing oxygen into the air as part of the photosynthetic process. Even a single plant can make a dramatic difference to air quality.

When the Australian Plant Life Balance campaign for greener spaces commissioned a world-first review of global studies on the wellbeing benefits of indoor plants, researchers at Melbourne's RMIT found that they improve indoor air significantly.

A single plant in a 4x5m space improves air quality by 25 percent, and five plants will provide 75 percent cleaner air. Share that space with 10 leafy friends, and your air hits optimum quality.

Size matters, too; the bigger a plant's leaves and root ball, the greater its air cleaning capabilities.

The NASA Clean Air Study identifies the humble peace lily as a star performer, with the ability to absorb benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia. Chrysanthemum, spider plants, aloe vera, ficus, snake plants and bamboo palm are also excellent air cleaners.

 

Pure genius

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Science is on your side when it comes to optimum indoor air. The latest and best air purifiers feature technology based on rigorous laboratory research.

A cutting-edge filtration system, such as Dyson's glass HEPA filter in the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool LinkTM purifier heater, which captures odours, domestic fumes and gases as well as  99.95 percent of fine particles such as allergens and pollutants [2] , is a powerful weapon in your war on poor air quality.

In winter, pollutants can be generated by the process of heating your home, with wood burning fireplaces and stoves, gas heaters and any fuel-burning devices a source of potentially harmful emissions. The Dyson Pure Hot+Cool LinkTM purifiers solve the problem elegantly by warming and cleaning your air at the same time.

Let it flow

It's tempting to fight the chill by keeping doors and windows closed, but if too little fresh air enters your home, pollutants can accumulate. Ventilation is key; try to open kitchen and bathroom windows to refresh air after cooking, washing clothes and bathing.

Poor ventilation can also exacerbate allergies and asthma, says University of Queensland School of Public Health Senior Lecturer Luke Knibbs, who led research connecting childhood asthma to gas cooking and dampness. "Cooking with gas releases chemicals such as nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde, which causes inflammation in the airways and exacerbates asthma," he says.

"Using high-efficiency range-hoods could reduce the amount of childhood asthma associated with gas stoves from 12 per cent to just three percent. Opening windows during and after cooking can [also] help reduce exposure."

Bust the dust

The visible and invisible dusts in your home may contain substances that, if inhaled or swallowed, could potentially harm your health. Design and furnish your home with easy-to-clean surfaces and fabrics. Keep surfaces clean of dust; regularly wipe down surfaces to avoid build-up of dust mites and dander.

Carried in on shoes, pollutants including lead particles from vehicle exhausts or contaminated soil can enter your home and become part of the breathable dust load. Doormats can help guard against these intruders.

Get on board

Soft carpets and rugs are a tempting winter option, but they bring a range of pollutant possibilities. Adhesives used to fix new carpets may contain VOCs, as can underlay.

Trapped dust and microbiological pollutants can be a problem if they are released from the carpet into the air, and poorly cleaned carpets become reservoirs for dust and microbiological pollutants. Clean your carpets regularly to minimise health risks, and invest in a vacuum cleaner with an efficient HEPA filter.

For cleaner air, it's hard to beat old-fashioned floorboards. Smooth flooring should be cleared of dust before wet mopping to avoid simply spreading the dust. And avoid cleaners that use fragranced products, as they can include VOCs.

This article has been produced in association with Dyson. 

Dyson, a world leader in problem solving technology, spends over AU$14 million a week in research and development. The Dyson Pure range of purifiers are at the forefront of technological change; driven by intelligent sensing, big data, analytics and machine learning to create the optimum indoor environment. Dyson has been developing filtration systems for 25 years and the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Link™ purifier fan heater is our most advanced purifying technology yet to ensure the air in our homes is cleaner. Considering that every day we breathe an average of 10,000 litres of air, it's no surprise that people are starting to pay more attention to the quality of the air we breathe and its overall effect on our health. The machine contains a smart sensor that monitors the environment for pollutants and when harmful pollutants are detected, it automatically purifies the air. Click here for more information. 

[1] https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/87d5dedd-62c2-479c-a001-a667eae21f7c/files/indoor-air-project-dwellings.pdf

[2] Particle capture tested to EN1822. Gaseous capture tested to JEM 1467 (acetic acid, acetaldehyde, ammonia), GB/T18801 (formaldehyde, benzene) and DTM-003282 (NO2). Gaseous capture rates vary.