Brits breathing polluted air in their own homes and workplaces, say researchers

Just under a quarter of Brits could be breathing polluted air in their own homes and at work each day – without realising it.

According to a recent survey, the average Brit will spend 90% of their time indoors, so air quality is important but recent data taken from Netatmo Weather Stations reveals that 23% of homes in the UK regularly exceed the threshold of 1,000 particles per million (ppm) of CO2 at least once a day.

While many rush to point the finger at heavy industry and traffic, researchers say the real reason is often simply that buildings are not ventilated well enough to evacuate pollutants.  CO2 levels in excess of 1,000 ppm will impair your ability to concentrate – and we probably aren’t aware.

Researchers explain that bad habits are a big contributor: around 60% of Europeans don’t replenish the air in their homes by opening doors and windows at least twice a day  as many health organisations recommend.

Indoor air quality varies according to season

The study shows that the quality of indoor air in homes in the UK changes according to the season. In winter, indoor air quality is poor in 28% of British homes, compared to only 15% in the summer, with Brits choosing comfort over air quality in winter.  Almost 80% of Britons don’t air their home at least twice a day.

The continent is not much better, with one in two Europeans admitting they won’t open their windows because of the cold.  However, airing a home two to four times a day for five minutes each time replenishes the air without heat being lost.

British homes close to the European average

An average of 22% of homes become polluted daily across Europe, while in the UK, the average percentage of homes getting polluted each day stands at 23%.

Sweden only has half as many polluted homes as the UK does, which experts say is down to different lifestyle habits airing the home more often, as well as norms and ventilation mechanisms that vary from country to country.

In the UK, 80% of detached houses built before 1990 have so-called natural ventilation and only 25% feature mechanical ventilation. In Sweden, only 40% of houses have natural ventilation while 60% of them include mechanical ventilation. This might explain why levels of indoor air pollution vary so greatly between British and Swedish homes.

How can you improve your home’s air quality?

With the indoor air of 28% of British homes becoming polluted at least once a day in winter, it is vital to ensure your home is well ventilated – you can also check your home for pollutants.

Importantly, airing you home in winter does not lead to a significant loss of heat in the home. This is because only the indoor air cools, and not the walls, flooring, ceiling and furniture.

The Netatmo Weather Station can support users to do this, by monitoring air quality in real time on your smartphone and also tracking changes over time.  It can also direct users when to air their homes and for how long.   As soon as the threshold of 1,000 ppm is reached, they receive an alert on their smartphone, prompting them to immediately improve ventilation and letting them know when the air is safe again.

However, even if you don’t invest in a weather station, this research shows that many of us could be unaware of our body’s struggle for fresh air in our own homes.  The takeaway from this is that fresh air needs to be flowing.

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