A look at indoor air pollution

It comes as no surprise that my breathing will change depending on how active I am. I also know I need to breathe more often when I do physical activity. What is less obvious perhaps is the amount my breathing alters due to the amount of pollutants in the atmosphere around me. This is because my body attempts to restrict how much air I breathe if it contains a lot of irritants or toxins. (The National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute).

What-have-you-been-breathing?

I noticed this last summer after I visited a yoga studio in my nearest big city, London.  I spent a good few hours there and really enjoyed the class. All the studio windows were wide open on that evening, to let in some “fresh air”. It was well over 28° and it was not advertised as hot yoga!

Does this sound familiar? Well it should.

When the class finished and I stepped into the street the pollution was palpable. Diesel fumes from the cars and lorries outside had been pumping indoors through the open windows all evening. The bus stop outside was a smoke filled haze. It got me thinking how much filthy air I had been inhaling that evening, even though I was indoors at the time.

No one ever tells us exactly what to breathe, often the air we are breathing in our homes is polluted

We’re often told how to breathe and relax. In fact, my favourite mindfulness instruction always talks me through this restful practice.

But wait there is more…

Often the atmosphere we are breathing in our homes is polluted by fumes from scented candles, aerosols, cooking fats and cleaning products etc.

Listen to this: I recently attended the 2018 Investigation of Air Pollution Conference in London. Experts from around the world discussed several air pollution issues. Topics included ‘personal exposure to air pollution’, ‘challenges of wood burning stoves’ and the ‘controls for indoor air pollution exposure’. I was especially interested to hear about personal exposure and PM 2.5 concentrations. This is the fine particulate matter in the air that reduces visibility, giving the effect of a haze when levels are raised. The conference was extremely enlightening and gave me cause to do further research of my own to avoid the effects of pollution.

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10 Common Causes of Pollution Around the House

  1. Common Household Dust can cause severe respiratory problems for asthmatics. The very young and the very old are usually the most at risk.

  2. Common or garden cleaning products contain what are know as volatile organic compounds. These can set off the serious but quaintly names “sick building syndrome”. Symptoms include migraine, itchy skin and a very dry throat.

  3. Perfumes and deodorants sprays. Strange as it may seem the ingredients of many scents, perfumes and deodorants are not that strictly regulated by the “powers that be”. Some of the they contain are quite toxic and are can cause fits of coughing and other irritation.

  4. Secondhand tobacco smoke - The evidence regarding this is pretty indisputable.

  5. Biological pollutants, including mould, bacteria, viruses, pollen, and dust mites that could diseases, trigger hay fever or induce asthma in adults and children.

  6. Pets Hair and dried flaky animal skin can be a source of respiratory problems.

  7. Fumes from paraffin wax candles. A recent survey conducted by the South Carolina State University found that candles made of paraffin wax release toxic chemicals such as toluene and benzene that can quickly build up to unhealthy level in enclosed areas.

  8. Minute particles and gases from office machines and stationery. Copiers, laser printers, correction fluid, graphics and craft materials and others can also be a source of ultra-fine particles and VOCs that can penetrate deep into the lungs.

  9. Combustion pollutants. Nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide are emitted by fuel-burning appliances such as fireplace, heater, wood or gas stoves, water heater and dryer. It is essential that these appliances are well vented

  10. Paints and solvents. These products also contain VOCs as discussed in item 2 above. Professional decorators are most at risk as are enthusiastic D.I.Y. guys or anyone exposed to them on a regular basis.

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Beach side Wellness

I am fortunate to live by the coast and to be able to walk on the beach each day. I can breathe in the negative ions and coastal breeze but it’s obviously the quality of the air we breathe that is of paramount importance.  Measurements of dry air that is unpolluted contains a mixture of gasses, these are nitrogen -78%, oxygen – 21% and argon - 0.9% and CO2 - 0.037%.

Guess What though!

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The atmosphere by the coast has a slightly different make up with salt and cleanliness more significant. Research suggests the negative ions, being the charged particles that are plentiful in sea spray, improve our ability to absorb oxygen. Some studies indicate they may help us to feel more alert.  

Professor Pierce J Howard from the US Centre for Applied Cognitive Sciences says, ‘They might help decrease irritation from particles that make you sneeze, cough or have a throat irritation’. Other studies have shown that inhaling salty coastal atmosphere improved lung function in people with a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis.

If you have suffered with hay fever this hot summer then you may benefit from a few hearty breaths of sea air too. ‘Onshore breezes can blow away pollen-laden air’, says airborne allergy expert Max Wiseberg.

Therefore, it is important that we breathe the cleanest and purest air that we can, not only for the body to function well but for overall health and well-being.  In the UK the furthest point from the coast is no more than 70 miles / 112 km. There is no excuse not to pack your swimming costume and reach for the sunscreen, so get ready to dip your toes into the sand.

But what if you cannot get to the beach?

If you wish to inhale the purest air from a variety of unspoiled locations around Great Britain, purchase a bottle of freshly captured coastal air from our Shop. Experience complete ‘beach side wellness’ from the comfort of your own home.

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Do you live near to the Sea?

Have you experienced feeling refreshed and invigorated after a day at the beach?

Let us have your thoughts and join us next time for more facts, examples, statistics & possible solutions.

Until next time, breathe clean.

The Coast Capture Air team.