Your home is killing you! Harmful home items uncovered

“All I need is the air that I breathe”….. sang the Hollies many years ago, and fast forward today, and what do we think about air quality in general? Is air really all we need?  The Beatles told us it was love. Who is right?

So do we give it a second thought or do we take it for granted?

Air pollution is the environment is often talked about by various governments across Europe, but what about the quality of the air inside your home?


There are some things in YOUR house you may not realise are very harmful!

There are certain building regulations and codes set down by each member state in Europe, although in some cases, such as the British standards for construction, measures already existed to regulate and enforce certain air quality and ventilation guidelines within the built environment, both at work and at home.

There has also been concern of late at the amount of potentially toxic chemicals inside peoples homes, and these can stem from certain cleaning products, or cheaply built furniture, or even the knock-on effect of the smoking ban, and many more people stay at hone and smoke, instead of doing it down the pub.

Having a badly ventilated house can also cause damp issues and the growth of harmful mould on the walls of rooms inside. Here we show you a few ways to keep your house well ventilated and the quality of air high.

How to have clean air in the house.

Having a clean environment in your home means that you will suffer far less from illness and colds and your general health and well being will be much better as a result.

There are various things that are around your home right now that you may not realise, are causing amounts of pollutions and they include common items such as: Air fresheners, cosmetics,  Mattresses, cigarettes, moth balls, carpets, paint, fabrics, household cleaning products and so on.

Sources of household pollution
Sources of household pollution

The heating can also cause pollution, and having an open fireplace is a prime example, although having your central heating turned up too high can also create pollution because it renders the room warm enough for bacteria and other bugs to flourish, fleas being a prime example.

Turn down your heating, clean the carpets and hoover all the fabrics, beds and curtains, regularly.


It is important to ventilate each room by the simple process of opening the windows! Just opening one is not enough, you need to create a through draught for the air to circulate. Obviously if you live next to an industrial area, this may not be so easy.

Double glazed windows

It is possible to buy air purifiers although they only have a certain level of effectiveness. If you are lucky to have aircon in your home, then the units will have pollen filters which often collect dust and other airborne pollutants so make sure you check and clean the filters regularly.

This also applies to extractor fans, commonly found in either kitchens or bathrooms and are essential for removing polluted air from inside you  home, because if they don’t work, the air stays in the home and you breathe it!

It is also very important that you open the bathroom window, yes even if it is cold outside, after bathing or showering, because if you don’t, all that moist air goes into the carpets, curtain and fabrics, and also settles into the walls, causing mould.

Mould releases toxic spores which are very bad for your health and may actually cause asthma.

Avoid using toxic products

There are many toxic or potentially harmful products in homes that people just do not know how bad they are, and the item simply goes into the shopping cart without a second thought.

Many cleaning products, textiles and also building materials, contain formaldehyde, a very harmful chemical which you may not actually know, is a common additive in clothing and bed sheets that do not require ironing.

This is also found in many MDF and chipboard based cheap furniture and there have been studies apparent that show some people can actually fall ill, based on the furniture they have bought.

Comsetics can also contain this chemical, as can spin-off chemical products used in make up such as diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (most commonly known as bronopol), and sodium hydroxylmethylglycinate.

lipstick can be harmful
lipstick can be harmful

Toxic hazards in older houses.

Old houses can also contain hazards and the biggest and most known about one has to be lead paint.

The use of lead paint was banned at the end of the 1970’s in the USA, but rather bizarrely was NOT banned from use in the UK until about 1992, so many houses built right up into the 1980’s could have traces of lead paint in them.

Even Australia banned the use of lead paint as far back as 1970 and is now controlled as a part of Australian [building] Standard 1716.

Paint on a house in Essex
decorating a listed building in Essex. This photo is copyright GS decorating and used with kind permission of Greg Clark.

Lead paint is very dangerous and can cause blood poisoning and even death. Children are very much at risk too as they run their hands over walls where paint flakes and powders, and then put their fingers in their mouth.

It is also worth noting that if you collect old toys, like Dinky cars or something, the paint on them WILL contain harmful lead so don’t give them to your grand children or kids to play with.

In general, lead paint is only dangerous when removed, so sometimes the best remedy for this is to paint over it and leave it where it is.


The quality of the air in homes is often either forgotten about or at best misunderstood, but do not underestimate how dangerous some products around the house can be, and do not underestimate the importance of ventilating your home for clean and fresh air.

It’s hard to think about that during winter time, but houses need clean air or what happens is that all the toxic chemicals in your home, and your 2nd hand breath, is constantly recycled and you end up with dirty air, and that is air the you and your family breathe in every day. Don’t smoke in the house either.

Make sure also that the exterior walls of your home are in good condition, maybe with an external wall coating which will stop damp, cold walls and condensation, meaning the damp is not allowed to grow. If you put all this advice together, you should be breathing in clean, or cleaner air in no time at all and your health with benefit as a result.

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