Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is dangerously compromised by seemingly mundane everyday tasks such as cleaning, cooking and spraying aerosols, a study by heating and ventilation specialists Zehnder Group UK shows. Alongside more obvious causes of poor IAQ such as smoking and vaping indoors, these factors all have a significant impact on the levels of pollutants we breathe inside our homes.
Volunteers with different home environments and lifestyle habits were chosen as in-depth subjects for the study. An indoor air quality monitor₁ was placed in each subject’s house for a total of five days, recording dust particles, chemicals and humidity.
The data was collected from a number of areas in each property including the kitchen, bedroom and living room. The data highlighted significant spikes in levels of PM2.5 particles, fine dust molecules that can lead to serious health conditions such as respiratory diseases including asthma, allergies, dementia, mental health issues and insomnia. The air quality monitor used categorises PM2.5 levels, which is measured in micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³) as shown on the right.
The study showed that cooking meals such as omelettes, stir-fries and grilled foods raised pollution levels in the kitchen to over three times that of a typical London road. Using hairspray when getting ready in the morning for example also caused a huge spike in harmful dust particles.
0-15 = good (safe)
16-35 = fairly good
36-55 = fair
56-75 = fairly poor
76+ = poor (harmful)
It is to be expected that smoking inside would cause an increase in pollutants, but the study showed just how dramatic that increase is, with both cigarette and vape smoke taking levels to over 65,000 times higher than is considered normal, even with an extractor fan in the same room.
Rupert Kazlauciunas, technical product manager at Zehnder Group UK, comments on the findings:
“We are constantly made aware of the dangers of outdoor pollution, but IAQ is dangerously overlooked. We spend as much as 90% of our time indoors – yet mention air quality and our thoughts immediately turn to large lorries pumping fumes, cars clogging our roads or factories belching out smoke.
“The chemicals and particles we breathe in our homes and workplaces actually pose a far more dangerous threat to our health than most people realise. Smoking, perhaps, is not a huge surprise, but cooking, using cosmetics and even just having pets or vacuuming our carpets can raise dust particles to harmful levels. The more we can do to tackle indoor pollution, through educating people and the use of innovative ventilation products, the better position we put ourselves in to protect future generations.”
The study was conducted across five different homes, each with a different set of variables (pets, no pets, windows open, windows closed, ventilation fans and units on and off etc). Each subject had the device for 5 days and took a diary during that time, detailing activities and variables.
These results are the first in an ongoing study: further data relating to other variables such as cleaning and pet ownership are available upon request.
The Awair air monitoring device was used for the study, placed in different rooms such as the kitchen, living room, bedroom and hall, throughout each part of the study.
Awair’s sensors are designed and tested to accurately identify the five key factors of air quality. Each sensor is strategically placed to ensure optimal airflow and consistent readings.
The data was analysed using the Awair app, which produces graphs and averages for five factors: Temperature, Chemicals, PM2.5 particulates (dust), CO₂ levels and humidity.