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How can I protect myself and my family in 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.

a line illustration of two family groups: a pregnant mum and a young child, and a male and female copy with a toddler
A line illustration of a person holding a bag of ready to burn fuel, standing next to a pile of logs

Be careful what and how much you burn

 

When possible avoid using open fires that burn solid fuels, free standing gas heaters and candles. If you have to use solid fuels, try to make sure these are smokeless or if you’re burning wood make sure it’s dry and well-seasoned so it burns efficiently and with less pollution. It can take up to 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” and don’t burn wood offcuts that have been treated or painted as this can give off lots of pollution.

 

Don’t use unflued paraffin/kerosene heaters that are not vented to the outside, such as portable appliances.

 

Avoid smoking inside your home, for more information on the risks of tobacco smoke visit, see the NHS pages.

 

Please note:

Please note that burning household waste is an offence. Examples of house hold waste include old furniture, building materials or household items that might otherwise be taken to a tip.

During the coronavirus outbreak you should avoid burning garden waste whenever possible, as it produces smoke – especially if that waste is green or damp. Smoke emissions can exacerbate respiratory problems. A practical guide on open fires and wood-burning stoves can be accessed here.

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 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!

A line illustration of a saucepan with the ild askew, steam is pouring out of it.
A line illustration of a person carrying out maintenance on a domestic boiler

Regularly service your boilers

 

Make sure your boiler is serviced each year to help keep it burning fuel cleanly. This should be carried out by a professional Gas Safe engineer.

 

This will reduce pollution being emitted from the boiler flu and prevent Carbon Monoxide from being created and builidng up inside your house. It will also make sure that your boiler isn’t wasting fuel (and money).

Make the most out 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.

 

To help prevent mould use trickle vents (found on some windows) and extractor fans or open the window (if possible and safe). You can help avoid moisture by drying clothes outdoors, repairing water leaks/damage and using extractor fans or opening windows (if possible and safe), when bathing and showering.

A line illustration of a person opening a window
A line illustration of a woman adjusting her boiler timer

Save energy

 

Reducing the amount of energy that you use in your home will also help with air pollution, close to home and for the country as a whole.

 

If you insulate your home well, you can reduce the amount of energy that goes into keeping it warm. That means you will burn less gas, oil or wood, or use less electricity. And that means you are creating less pollution around your home. 

 

Turning appliances off when you're not using them will also save electricity, and that will reduce the amount of air pollution created at power stations.

Will plants help air pollution at home?

 

Research that was carried out by NASA in 1989 showed that there are plants which can remove pollution from the air. Different plants were shown to remove different pollutants, and you will often see this research quoted in lots of different places.

 

However when you take the plants out of the experimental conditions this study was carried out in, and put the plants in a real home, the change they make is very small. Plants can also attract dust and cause mould, so make sure to look after them well.

A line illustration of a trio of houseplants

If you would like to find out more about where all the stats, facts and figures have come from, see our references page