Sometimes there is more pollution inside the house than outside. What are the main sources of indoor pollution? What are the risks? What are the right things you can do to improve air quality in your home? The Assurance Prévention association takes stock.

Pollution:, the, right, things, to, do, at, home, improve, air, quality


In contrast to outdoor air pollution, which receives more media attention, indoor air pollution remained relatively unknown until recently. However, the Anses (the French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety) states that we spend on average 85% of our time in closed environments where the air we breathe is not always of good quality: home, work premises, school, means of transport, etc. However, this is a major factor that affects our health because exposure to indoor pollution can lead to various ailments such as respiratory tract irritations, headaches and poisoning. But making the air in our homes healthier is not so complicated, as the association Assurance Prévention reminds us.

Tobacco, the leading indoor air pollutant

The first reflex is to identify the main sources of indoor pollution and the first and easiest to act on is none other than tobacco. The other potential sources of pollution are numerous: combustion appliances, construction materials (glass wool, rock wool) and DIY materials (paints, glues, solvents, gardening products), decorative products (glues, varnishes...), furniture (formaldehyde), human activity (household products, kitchen...), presence of pets... To reduce indoor tobacco pollution, the most effective solution is not to smoke indoors or at the window (require guests to smoke outside).

Because we must not forget that "with 3,000 toxic substances, tobacco is the leading pollutant present in homes, causing cancers through active and passive smoking, asthma, allergies, cardiovascular disease, etc.". "says Assurance Prévention.

Household products are far from harmless

As for the use of household products and home fragrances, be careful to limit the number of products used and to favor products certified as environmentally friendly. It is also best to avoid spray products and make sure not to mix products with each other (especially with bleach), without forgetting to follow the instructions for use, the doses and the safety instructions.

Although pleasant to use, scented candles, incense and home fragrances are also great purveyors of indoor pollution because far from "sanitizing" the interior, their combustion releases many pollutants (volatile organic compounds or VOCs, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). They should therefore not be abused or even avoided if a person has a sensitive respiratory system and if this is the case, make sure to ventilate the room for at least 10 minutes.

Similarly, many construction materials and DIY products (paints, glues, solvents, varnishes, waxes, paint removers, thinners, lacquers, etc.) can emit these toxic substances.

Ventilation and venting: two essential recommendations

When using them, the association reminds the importance of systematically wearing the appropriate protective equipment (filter mask, gloves, glasses) and of closing the products after use, to be kept in a ventilated place out of reach of children. If the work takes place indoors, regular breaks are necessary as well as very regular ventilation. "From the moment you buy a product, look for products that contain the least amount of pollutants: read VOC labels, look for European eco-labels and look for pictograms," she adds.

It should be noted that some new furniture (especially chipboard) releases chemical substances for a certain period of time. Ideally, the best precautionary measure is to leave them for a few days in a well-ventilated area before installing them in the bedroom or living room.

So if there is one recommendation to be followed on a daily basis, it is to air your home regularly, more specifically to ventilate all the rooms every day by opening the windows wide for 10 to 15 minutes, or even twice a day in times of pandemic. And this even if it's cold and even if there is a peak in outdoor pollution. The explanation is simple: "Our homes are better and better insulated, which translates into less energy expenditure, but this insulation hinders the renewal of our indoor air. ", notes Assurance Prévention.

In addition to this, some activities require even more ventilation: cleaning, DIY, decoration and renovation work... In addition to natural ventilation, homes are equipped with ventilation systems whose role is to ensure permanent air circulation. It is possible to check yourself that the air inlets, grilles and extract units are not obstructed and to clean them as often as necessary so that they remain effective. However, the installation must be carried out by a specialist, as well as the verification of their operation. A check that should not be overlooked because poorly installed or maintained ventilation can promote the presence of pollutants in the dwelling