Many people assume that air pollution is only associated with car fumes and industrial power plants, but the reality is quite different. In fact, polluted air can be caused by an array of factors – and a lot of them are found in and around our homes. Everyday activities such as cooking and cleaning can cause the number of pollutants in our kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms to rise dramatically – and unfortunately, many people don’t realise the impact they are having on their indoor environment.
Here, we outline five causes of air pollution that might surprise you.
The next time you’re preparing a meal or heating something up on the stove, make sure you open a window and ventilate your kitchen – especially if you’re frying something. A study conducted at Texas State and Utah State universities found that water, when combined with hot oil, creates minuscule droplets of fat that are thrown into the air and are small enough to be inhaled. However, anything that involves combustion could potentially to your health and the quality of air in your home.
Need an excuse to avoid your chores for another week? You’re in luck. There’s a vast number of cleaning products found in homes all over the world that could have a negative impact on your health. Sure, there’s a list of scary-sounding chemicals and symbols on the packaging of many of them, but there’s more to it than that. A lot of manufacturers don’t publish the full list of chemicals used inside their product, because they simply don’t have to. According to the Huffington Post, non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) studied more than 2,000 different household cleaning products and the results were worrying. A lot of the tested items were found to contain chemicals linked to asthma, allergies and even cancer.
If you own a wood-burning stove, you’ll know how warm and cosy they can make your indoor environment come winter. However, they’re not as family friendly as you’d think. According to King’s College London, domestic wood burning is responsible for a huge amount of London’s fine particle pollution – between a quarter and a third, to be more precise. Additional studies had even more concerning results. The Guardian reported on a stove switching programme that took place between 2005 and 2007, where old, polluting wood-burning stoves were replaced with newer alternatives. The study found that after the replacement, there were fewer cases of children suffering from respiratory issues.
While many claim that e-cigarettes and vapes are a safer alternative to smoking, scientists beg to differ. A story published by The Telegraph touched on research carried out by professionals at the University of California, in which human cells were subjected to smoke particles of e-cigarettes. The results? Not great. The cells used in the experiment were damaged and died soon after contact with the chemicals.
It might seem obvious that driving at higher speeds isn’t exactly healthy for the environment, but did you know that braking causes pollution too? While low-emission zones are becoming more prominent, both speeding up and slowing down are detrimental to the environment. Ralph Bagge, the leader of South Bucks District Council, commented on the topic when speaking with The Independent. “Smooth driving reduces emissions and stop-start acceleration and deceleration braking is harmful,” he explained. “It is putting out more through the tailpipe, but secondly braking is also grinding bits of very fine particulate matter which goes into the atmosphere,” he concluded.
Image courtesy of Kevin McCutcheon, Unsplash