Air pollution is a big health issue, but there are things that we can all do to make ourselves and others safer. Even small reductions in air pollution could help us to avoid new cases of disease.

 

How can I help protect myself and my family inside my own home?

How can I help protect myself and my family when I'm out and about?

Do face masks work?

Will plants help air pollution at home?

 

How can I help protect myself and my family from air pollution inside my own home?

There are lots of easy things that you can do to help keep the air cleaner in your home for you and your family.

 

 

Regularly service your boilers

Make sure your boiler is serviced each year to help keep it burning fuel cleanly.

This will reduce pollution and prevent Carbon Monoxide from being created. It will also make sure that your boiler isn’t wasting fuel (and money).

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Be careful what you burn

If you have a wood burning stove, make sure to always use well-seasoned wood. That is wood that has had a chance to dry out properly, so it burns efficiently and with less pollution.

It can take around two years for logs to dry out, so make sure to look out for wood and logs in the shops that are labelled as “ready to burn”.

Make sure you don’t burn wood offcuts that have any chemicals or paint on them as this can give off lots of pollution.

Candles can also give off air pollution so make sure to trim the wick if they are getting smoky, and don’t burn them around people with breathing problems.

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Choose low-chemical cleaning, DIY and personal care products

Try to choose fragrance free cleaning products and follow the instructions when using them to avoid using too much.

Instead of using aerosols, look for other options: use a roll-on deodorant rather than a spray or open the window for fresh air rather than using an air freshener.

When you are planning to decorate your house, choose paints which have a “low VOC” label on them.

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Keep your kitchen smoke free

When you are cooking, try to keep lids on pots whenever you can. This will reduce the amount of energy needed to cook and reduce the amount of pollution from your gas hob. It will also reduce the amount of moisture getting into the air, which can help to avoid mould.

When you can, open your windows or use extractor fans when you are cooking to keep pollution levels lower, especially if you have burned the toast!

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Make the most of fresh air

Opening windows when you are cooking or cleaning can be a very good way to stop air pollution building up inside your house. It allows fresh air in and stops the concentration of pollution from getting too high.

Sometimes, if your home is near a busy road, air pollution from traffic can get into your house from the outside.

If you are worried about the levels of pollution near your home, think about which windows you open, and try to open those that are furthest away from the roads rather than those that are closet to the roads. Try to close your windows during rush hour when the outdoor air pollution is at its worst.

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Choose your furniture carefully

Furniture and furnishings can be sources of pollutants like formaldehyde.

If you can, choose products made from solid wood rather than MDF (medium density fibreboard) or plywood. Also look for second hand furniture, as the amount of pollution furniture gives off decreases with age.

When you are bringing new furniture into your home, try to ensure there is a good supply of fresh air to the room to start with.

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How can I help protect myself and my family when I am out and about?

Transport is a major source of pollution and changing how we travel can reduce how much pollution we create, and how much pollution we breathe in.

  

Use people power

Walk, cycle or scoot whenever you can, rather than driving. Being stuck in traffic can expose you to lots of pollution. Polluted air from the exhaust of the vehicles in front can get sucked into your car, and often stays trapped there, meaning you breathe in lots of the pollution.

An experiment found that a car driver was exposed to twice as much pollution as a pedestrian and nine times as much pollution as a cyclist travelling the same journey at the same time of day.

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Take quieter routes

When you can, avoid walking along the busiest roads. Choose ways to get to your destination that use quieter streets, trips through parks and other green spaces or pedestrianised areas.

Air pollution concentrates around the busiest roads, and getting even a short distance away from them can make a big difference. Quieter roads have been shown to reduce your exposure to pollution by 20%.

You can also think about when you travel. If it is possible, avoid travelling at rush hour when the pollution levels are often much higher.

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Work from home

If your work allows it can be good to work from home occasionally, so that you avoid the commute altogether. This can be especially helpful on high air pollution days.

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Do face masks work?

Many of the face masks on the market don’t stop you from breathing in the smallest particles.

For them to work, face masks need to fit very snugly, and have very effective filters. Instead of relying on face masks try to take quieter routes away from traffic instead.

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Will plants help air pollution at home?

Research that was carried out by NASA showed that there are plants which can remove pollution from the air. 

Different plants were shown to remove different pollutants, with plants like ivy, spider plants and Peace Lilies helping to remove some formaldehyde from the air and Aloe Vera and Chrysanthemums helping to remove benzene from the air.

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Me, my family, and the air we breathe