Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of healthy living. 

This post explores how everyday activities and household items can impact the air we breathe at home, and offers practical tips for maintaining a healthier indoor environment.

Ready to do battle with the unseen pollutants lurking in your home? Let’s get started!

Understanding indoor air quality

Indoor air quality refers to the air quality within and around buildings, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. 

It encompasses the concentration of pollutants, humidity levels, and ventilation rates. In the UK, where we spend a significant amount of time indoors, especially during colder months, IAQ plays a crucial role in our overall well-being.

Common pollutants affecting indoor air include dust, pollen, mould spores, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from paints, furniture, and cleaning products. Unlike outdoor air, which is subject to environmental regulations, indoor air is often a closed environment where pollutants can accumulate to higher levels.

Sources of indoor air pollution

In our homes, various activities and items contribute to indoor air pollution.


Cleaning products


While essential for maintaining hygiene in our homes, many cleaning products release harmful chemicals into the air. 

Common culprits include ammonia and chlorine-based cleaners. These substances can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and in some cases, they can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma. 

To mitigate these effects, consider using eco-friendly cleaning products or homemade solutions like vinegar and baking soda, which are less harmful to indoor air quality.


Building materials and furnishings


Newer homes, with their modern building materials and furnishings, often contribute to indoor air pollution through the off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

VOCs, found in everything from paint to carpeting, can have short- and long-term health effects. Minimising exposure to these chemicals is crucial. 

Opting for low-VOC products, ensuring adequate ventilation during renovation projects, and allowing new furniture to off-gas in a well-ventilated area before bringing it indoors can significantly reduce these risks.




Activities like frying or grilling can introduce particulates and gases into the indoor air. 

These cooking methods can produce a range of pollutants, including fine particles and carbon monoxide. To minimize the impact, use extractor fans or cook with lids on pans. 

Additionally, regular maintenance of kitchen appliances can help reduce the emission of harmful gases.


Impact of pets and lifestyle choices


Pets, although beloved family members, can contribute to indoor air pollution through dander. Regular grooming and cleaning can mitigate this. 

Additionally, lifestyle choices such as smoking indoors drastically degrade air quality. Ensuring such activities are restricted or taken outside can make a significant difference.


Seasonal considerations


The changing seasons in the UK can also affect indoor air quality. 

Summer humidity can lead to mold growth, while winter heating systems can reduce humidity levels, potentially irritating respiratory conditions. Being mindful of these seasonal changes and adjusting home maintenance accordingly can help in maintaining optimal air quality throughout the year.


Ventilation challenges in UK homes


In the UK, the focus on energy efficiency has led to homes being tightly sealed, reducing the natural exchange of indoor and outdoor air. This can lead to the accumulation of pollutants. 

Integrating mechanical ventilation systems, such as heat recovery ventilators, or simply opening windows regularly can play a crucial role in maintaining healthy indoor air quality. 

Especially in urban areas, where outdoor air may also be polluted, the use of mechanical systems with filters can provide a balance between fresh air and energy efficiency.


Role of indoor plants


Incorporating indoor plants is a natural and aesthetically pleasing way to improve air quality. 

Certain plants, such as the spider plant, peace lily, and snake plant, are known for their air-purifying qualities. These plants can absorb pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene, subtly enhancing the indoor environment.

Health implications of poor indoor air quality

Poor IAQ can have immediate and long-term health impacts. Short-term effects often mimic allergic reactions, such as sneezing, headaches, and dizziness. Long-term exposure, however, can lead to more serious conditions like asthma, heart disease, and even lung cancer.

Children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing respiratory or heart conditions are particularly vulnerable. In the UK, where asthma and allergies are prevalent, improving IAQ can significantly enhance health outcomes for these groups.

Improving indoor air quality in your home

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to improve the IAQ in your home:

  • Regular Cleaning: Dust and vacuum your home regularly using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Wash beddings and soft furnishings to reduce dust mites.
  • Mindful Decorating: Choose low-VOC paints and furnishings. Ensure new furniture is aired out before bringing it indoors.
  • Ventilation: Open windows regularly to allow fresh air circulation. Use extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms to remove moisture and cooking fumes.
  • House Plants: Some plants can help filter certain toxins from the air, though their overall effect on IAQ is still a subject of research.
  • Air Purifiers: Consider using air purifiers, especially in bedrooms or living areas, to reduce particulate matter and allergens.
  • Smoke-Free Environment: Maintain a smoke-free home to avoid tobacco-related pollutants.

If you’re thinking of moving home in or around the capital, let Petty’s take the strain. Our team of friendly property experts take great pride in helping people just like you achieve their property goals, so give them a call.

We have been operating in London’s E11 postcode for well over a century now, so you know you’ll be in safe hands with us. Get in touch today to find out exactly how we can help you make your next move.

Article By: Catherine Bransgrove

Catherine has been in estate agency since 1986 and her local knowledge is second to none, despite being from Bonnie Scotland! A Loughton resident of over 35 years and one of the finest Sales Directors there is, Catherine is a true professional.

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