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Domestic pollution. Tips to prevent it

One of the surprising aspects of the new Spanish building regulation is the fact that although it is very much focused on saving energy, we architects are compelled to design a ventilation system in all bathrooms and kitchens to extract air from these wet rooms and inject fresh air from outside into all bedrooms and living rooms. 

Vents have to be installed on internal doors so that air is circulated from outside throughout the building, causing a waste of energy (hot or cold) that it is lost due to this circulation.

When we asked the Housing Department how would they explain that incongruity they explained that cancer was rocketing due to the fact that houses are being made airtight as the external joinery is much more hermetic and little air ventilates the new building and more plastic and toxic materials are being used.

So the wastage of energy is worth it if the new houses are better ventilated.

 

Look around.

We are surrounded by chemical agents on the walls, parquet, cleaning products and even on carpets. They are persistent and hidden in household dust, in the living room paint, carpet and even in your new mobile phone. Since we spend 66% of our lives indoors, according to a WHO-Europe study, the pollution we breathe inside is important. According to Dr. Santiago Nogué, vice president of the Spanish Foundation for Clinical Toxicology, who informs about the risks of domestic pollution and tells us how to remove these toxins from the home.

The good news is that getting rid of them is easier and cheaper than you think, as we will see. According to Doctor Nogué “We do not realise the amount of chemical agents that we introduce into our home through carpets, new furniture, building wall finishes and even the silicone covers of mobile phones," warns the doctor. "These materials are 'alive': they keep releasing volatile substances into the air." And they do it for a long time: between five and ten years.

 

Take the following precautions.

If we take some precautions, this contamination will not represent a major problem for the respiratory system, since our body learns to tolerate it and, explains Nogué, simply tops reacting to these substances. "This is true in 99.9% of cases," he says.

 

For some less fortunate individuals, however, the mechanism doesn’t work, because their body becomes "hypersensitive" to these substances and reacts to the presence of some household pollutants as if it were a type of allergy or chemical intolerance. "These people can suffer from respiratory conditions, malaise and even physical and mental fatigue," says the doctor. For them, getting rid of household pollutants is a matter of survival, "but we all need to learn how to get toxins out of the house," says Nogué.

 

Fresh clean air.

The quality of the air we breathe at home fluctuates. If we imagine a room in which we have just painted the walls, it is easy to understand that the atmosphere is filled with toxic substances and no doubt we will soon open the windows to ventilate. But the domestic atmosphere also varies when we buy new furniture or when we use cleaning products with penetrating odours. In fact, there are studies that claim that using cleaning products can be as harmful as smoking.

And there are still other hidden pollutants. According to the European Environment Agency, the main ones are radon (a radioactive gas that forms in the ground, which I have written about in other articles), tobacco smoke and the gases or particles of burned fuels, in addition to other chemicals and allergens.

Also the way we heat the house can leave combustion products in the air. And it affects how we cook - for example, the gas oven can release carbon monoxide (CO), among other substances. The dust retained in furniture and mites increases domestic chemical pollution in the absence of effective ventilation.

The best thing to avoid having toxic substances at home is not to let them in in the first place. But if this is impossible, get rid of them as much as you can.

 

1. Ventilate, ventilate and…

To get the toxins out of the home, we don't just have to clean, we also have to ventilate. In fact, opening the windows is the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to reduce chemical pollution as it renews and cleanses the indoor air.

For ventilation to be effective, all windows and doors must be opened at once. And even better, if they have a facing position, since the aeration will be more complete. Nor is it necessary to leave the windows wide-open for hours on end. If we ventilate well, ten minutes is enough time to renew the air in a home. And another tip: try to repeat the process twice a day, as you will decrease the internal concentration of contaminants.

 

More to follow next week.Fresh clean air.

The quality of the air we breathe at home fluctuates. If we imagine a room in which we have just painted the walls, it is easy to understand that the atmosphere is filled with toxic substances and no doubt we will soon open the windows to ventilate. But the domestic atmosphere also varies when we buy new furniture or when we use cleaning products with penetrating odours. In fact, there are studies that claim that using cleaning products can be as harmful as smoking.

And there are still other hidden pollutants. According to the European Environment Agency, the main ones are radon (a radioactive gas that forms in the ground, which I have written about in other articles), tobacco smoke and the gases or particles of burned fuels, in addition to other chemicals and allergens.

Also the way we heat the house can leave combustion products in the air. And it affects how we cook - for example, the gas oven can release carbon monoxide (CO), among other substances. The dust retained in furniture and mites increases domestic chemical pollution in the absence of effective ventilation.

The best thing to avoid having toxic substances at home is not to let them in in the first place. But if this is impossible, get rid of them as much as you can.

 

1. Ventilate, ventilate and…

To get the toxins out of the home, we don't just have to clean, we also have to ventilate. In fact, opening the windows is the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to reduce chemical pollution as it renews and cleanses the indoor air.

For ventilation to be effective, all windows and doors must be opened at once. And even better, if they have a facing position, since the aeration will be more complete. Nor is it necessary to leave the windows wide-open for hours on end. If we ventilate well, ten minutes is enough time to renew the air in a home. And another tip: try to repeat the process twice a day, as you will decrease the internal concentration of contaminants.

More to follow next week.Fresh clean air.

The quality of the air we breathe at home fluctuates. If we imagine a room in which we have just painted the walls, it is easy to understand that the atmosphere is filled with toxic substances and no doubt we will soon open the windows to ventilate. But the domestic atmosphere also varies when we buy new furniture or when we use cleaning products with penetrating odours. In fact, there are studies that claim that using cleaning products can be as harmful as smoking.

And there are still other hidden pollutants. According to the European Environment Agency, the main ones are radon (a radioactive gas that forms in the ground, which I have written about in other articles), tobacco smoke and the gases or particles of burned fuels, in addition to other chemicals and allergens.

Also the way we heat the house can leave combustion products in the air. And it affects how we cook - for example, the gas oven can release carbon monoxide (CO), among other substances. The dust retained in furniture and mites increases domestic chemical pollution in the absence of effective ventilation.

The best thing to avoid having toxic substances at home is not to let them in in the first place. But if this is impossible, get rid of them as much as you can.

 

1. Ventilate, ventilate and…

To get the toxins out of the home, we don't just have to clean, we also have to ventilate. In fact, opening the windows is the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to reduce chemical pollution as it renews and cleanses the indoor air.

For ventilation to be effective, all windows and doors must be opened at once. And even better, if they have a facing position, since the aeration will be more complete. Nor is it necessary to leave the windows wide-open for hours on end. If we ventilate well, ten minutes is enough time to renew the air in a home. And another tip: try to repeat the process twice a day, as you will decrease the internal concentration of contaminants.

More to follow next week.Fresh clean air.

The quality of the air we breathe at home fluctuates. If we imagine a room in which we have just painted the walls, it is easy to understand that the atmosphere is filled with toxic substances and no doubt we will soon open the windows to ventilate. But the domestic atmosphere also varies when we buy new furniture or when we use cleaning products with penetrating odours. In fact, there are studies that claim that using cleaning products can be as harmful as smoking.

And there are still other hidden pollutants. According to the European Environment Agency, the main ones are radon (a radioactive gas that forms in the ground, which I have written about in other articles), tobacco smoke and the gases or particles of burned fuels, in addition to other chemicals and allergens.

Also the way we heat the house can leave combustion products in the air. And it affects how we cook - for example, the gas oven can release carbon monoxide (CO), among other substances. The dust retained in furniture and mites increases domestic chemical pollution in the absence of effective ventilation.

The best thing to avoid having toxic substances at home is not to let them in in the first place. But if this is impossible, get rid of them as much as you can.

 

1. Ventilate, ventilate and…

To get the toxins out of the home, we don't just have to clean, we also have to ventilate. In fact, opening the windows is the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to reduce chemical pollution as it renews and cleanses the indoor air.

For ventilation to be effective, all windows and doors must be opened at once. And even better, if they have a facing position, since the aeration will be more complete. Nor is it necessary to leave the windows wide-open for hours on end. If we ventilate well, ten minutes is enough time to renew the air in a home. And another tip: try to repeat the process twice a day, as you will decrease the internal concentration of contaminants.

More to follow next week.

 

How a house is cleaned and what products are used will have a major impact on the quality of the air that will be breathed in it.

The cleaning cabinet reveals the wide variety of household hygiene products that are normally used. The problem, says the expert, is that many of these items contain bleach or ammonia, effective cleaning products, but whose use releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs). And these molecules evaporate into the air even when stored inside the closet. “If we ventilate, for most of us they do not present a problem; but there are cases of intolerance to household cleaning products, detergent and even fabric softeners," warns the toxicologist.

It seems a good idea to reduce the amount of VOCs we breathe. The European Lung Foundation recommends choosing cleaning items without fragrances, because they can react once in the air and generate other molecules. It is also advisable to use solid or liquid soaps, whenever possible, instead of aerosols, which leave more substances in the air. We should also avoid breathing in so many substances when we clean, ventilating by opening the windows.

 

Make your own cleaning products.

They are not difficult to prepare and can make a big difference. Our grandmothers were right. There are recipes for traditional cleaners that are effective, and that we can combine with other items. In the event of intolerance to cleaning products or to reduce our exposure to these volatile substances. My grandmother used vinegar as water softener for fabrics, bicarbonate to unblock drains, etc. They are more natural products, and also less irritating.

 

Get rid of dust (using a damped cloth)

Furniture dust acts as a "trap" that retains mites and chemicals of all kinds. In fact, a 2016 research study identified up to 45 different types of chemical toxins in household dust, including phthalates and various types of phenols.

Follow some basic steps to reduce exposure to dust, as prolonged contact can also end up causing an allergy. First, wash your hands frequently - just use water and neutral soap - and get a good damp cloth to clean the dust often. Another tip from the toxicologist: "Use the vacuum cleaner." For greater efficiency, there are appliances with high-efficiency filters to capture aerial particles (HEPA filters).

 

Keep it dry (and fungi-free)

Keep in mind that not only dust, but also moisture, can affect your immune system, as well as exposing you to an increased risk of respiratory problems. To eliminate dust you’re your home, it is essential to avoid condensation, a frequent phenomenon in bathrooms, especially during and after a shower. When the tiles turn grey this is a sign of a fungal problem that can end up even contaminating the sponge with which we wash our body.

Again the first guideline is to ventilate. In addition, there are dehumidifying devices that are quite effective in absorbing excess water from the air. If you are lucky enough to have a window in the toilet, remember to open it or keep it in a tilt-and-turn position, since the air that enters acts with a drying effect and absorbs moisture.

And watch out! If you find mould or blackness on the tiles joints, remove it carefully. The spores can easily disperse and, if you're not careful, you can end up spreading them throughout the room and compounding the problem.

 

Use eco-friendly paint.

When we paint the house, the gases and chemicals of the product are released into the air. And this contamination does not stop there, since the fresh paint on the walls continues to release substances even long after it has dried.

If you want to eliminate this type of domestic pollution, look for paints labelled "natural" or "ecological", because they usually contain a lower percentage of volatile organic compounds.

 

They are a bit more expensive, but they’re worth it, especially if you need to occupy the property while the painting is being done.Get rid of dust (using a damped cloth)

Furniture dust acts as a "trap" that retains mites and chemicals of all kinds. In fact, a 2016 research study identified up to 45 different types of chemical toxins in household dust, including phthalates and various types of phenols.

Follow some basic steps to reduce exposure to dust, as prolonged contact can also end up causing an allergy. First, wash your hands frequently - just use water and neutral soap - and get a good damp cloth to clean the dust often. Another tip from the toxicologist: "Use the vacuum cleaner." For greater efficiency, there are appliances with high-efficiency filters to capture aerial particles (HEPA filters).

  

Keep it dry (and fungi-free)

Keep in mind that not only dust, but also moisture, can affect your immune system, as well as exposing you to an increased risk of respiratory problems. To eliminate dust you’re your home, it is essential to avoid condensation, a frequent phenomenon in bathrooms, especially during and after a shower. When the tiles turn grey this is a sign of a fungal problem that can end up even contaminating the sponge with which we wash our body.

Again the first guideline is to ventilate. In addition, there are dehumidifying devices that are quite effective in absorbing excess water from the air. If you are lucky enough to have a window in the toilet, remember to open it or keep it in a tilt-and-turn position, since the air that enters acts with a drying effect and absorbs moisture.

And watch out! If you find mould or blackness on the tiles joints, remove it carefully. The spores can easily disperse and, if you're not careful, you can end up spreading them throughout the room and compounding the problem.

 

Use eco-friendly paint.

When we paint the house, the gases and chemicals of the product are released into the air. And this contamination does not stop there, since the fresh paint on the walls continues to release substances even long after it has dried.

If you want to eliminate this type of domestic pollution, look for paints labelled "natural" or "ecological", because they usually contain a lower percentage of volatile organic compounds.

They are a bit more expensive, but they’re worth it, especially if you need to occupy the property while the painting is being done.Get rid of dust (using a damped cloth)

Furniture dust acts as a "trap" that retains mites and chemicals of all kinds. In fact, a 2016 research study identified up to 45 different types of chemical toxins in household dust, including phthalates and various types of phenols.

Follow some basic steps to reduce exposure to dust, as prolonged contact can also end up causing an allergy. First, wash your hands frequently - just use water and neutral soap - and get a good damp cloth to clean the dust often. Another tip from the toxicologist: "Use the vacuum cleaner." For greater efficiency, there are appliances with high-efficiency filters to capture aerial particles (HEPA filters).

 

 Keep it dry (and fungi-free)

Keep in mind that not only dust, but also moisture, can affect your immune system, as well as exposing you to an increased risk of respiratory problems. To eliminate dust you’re your home, it is essential to avoid condensation, a frequent phenomenon in bathrooms, especially during and after a shower. When the tiles turn grey this is a sign of a fungal problem that can end up even contaminating the sponge with which we wash our body.

Again the first guideline is to ventilate. In addition, there are dehumidifying devices that are quite effective in absorbing excess water from the air. If you are lucky enough to have a window in the toilet, remember to open it or keep it in a tilt-and-turn position, since the air that enters acts with a drying effect and absorbs moisture.

And watch out! If you find mould or blackness on the tiles joints, remove it carefully. The spores can easily disperse and, if you're not careful, you can end up spreading them throughout the room and compounding the problem.

 

Use eco-friendly paint.

When we paint the house, the gases and chemicals of the product are released into the air. And this contamination does not stop there, since the fresh paint on the walls continues to release substances even long after it has dried.

If you want to eliminate this type of domestic pollution, look for paints labelled "natural" or "ecological", because they usually contain a lower percentage of volatile organic compounds.

They are a bit more expensive, but they’re worth it, especially if you need to occupy the property while the painting is being done.Get rid of dust (using a damped cloth)

Furniture dust acts as a "trap" that retains mites and chemicals of all kinds. In fact, a 2016 research study identified up to 45 different types of chemical toxins in household dust, including phthalates and various types of phenols.

Follow some basic steps to reduce exposure to dust, as prolonged contact can also end up causing an allergy. First, wash your hands frequently - just use water and neutral soap - and get a good damp cloth to clean the dust often. Another tip from the toxicologist: "Use the vacuum cleaner." For greater efficiency, there are appliances with high-efficiency filters to capture aerial particles (HEPA filters).

 

Keep it dry (and fungi-free)

Keep in mind that not only dust, but also moisture, can affect your immune system, as well as exposing you to an increased risk of respiratory problems. To eliminate dust you’re your home, it is essential to avoid condensation, a frequent phenomenon in bathrooms, especially during and after a shower. When the tiles turn grey this is a sign of a fungal problem that can end up even contaminating the sponge with which we wash our body.

Again the first guideline is to ventilate. In addition, there are dehumidifying devices that are quite effective in absorbing excess water from the air. If you are lucky enough to have a window in the toilet, remember to open it or keep it in a tilt-and-turn position, since the air that enters acts with a drying effect and absorbs moisture.

And watch out! If you find mould or blackness on the tiles joints, remove it carefully. The spores can easily disperse and, if you're not careful, you can end up spreading them throughout the room and compounding the problem.

 

Use eco-friendly paint.

When we paint the house, the gases and chemicals of the product are released into the air. And this contamination does not stop there, since the fresh paint on the walls continues to release substances even long after it has dried.

If you want to eliminate this type of domestic pollution, look for paints labelled "natural" or "ecological", because they usually contain a lower percentage of volatile organic compounds.

They are a bit more expensive, but they’re worth it, especially if you need to occupy the property while the painting is being done.




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Al ser imposible conocer en profundidad cada caso, todos los consejos y contestaciones a la preguntas realizadas en este blog, los consejos dados son propiciado en términos generales por lo que se deberá contrastar con el asesoramiento privado de un abogado  y/o un arquitecto para estudiar en profundidad su caso.

As it is impossible to know in detail every case asked in this blog all our replies are given in good faith but we strongly suggest that you obtain private advice from a solicitor /and /or  architect who will be able to study in depth your own particular case.