EVER suffered from a niggling cough or a sneezing fit at home?
The answer could be right under your nose.
Everyday items, from soft toys and scented candles to paint and furniture, could be putting your health at risk.
While we often focus on the air we breathe outside, household goods can have a big impact on what enters our lungs and our bloodstream, triggering allergic reactions and damaging our respiratory health.
Scientists say pollution, both indoors and outdoors, is a big factor in the nation’s diminishing respiratory health.
Emma Rubach, head of health advice at charity Asthma + Lung UK, told Sun on Sunday Health: “A lot of people don’t realise the seriousness of indoor pollution.
“Just like traffic fumes, we know that the particles from everyday items and products in our homes trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions.
“Evidence is gradually increasing that these particles can also cause respiratory conditions.
"Symptoms include a cough that doesn’t go away and keeps you up at night, wheezing or shortness of breath.”
Poor ventilation, mould and gas cookers are among the big triggers of lung conditions and potentially fatal asthma attacks.
But there are many more too.
Emma warns against the use of wood burners, e-cigarettes and smoking indoors to protect lung health.
She added: “There are also many other things that people don’t know about that contribute to indoor pollution and put allergens and dangerous particles, called VOCs (volatile organic compounds), into the air.
"You are more likely to inhale fine particles that are in things such as cleaning products, spray deodorants or even scented candles.
“These are a health risk for all ages but especially children whose lungs are smaller and breathe quicker so take in more of the invisible particles floating around them.”
Some air monitors can detect VOCs, and VOCs should always be labelled on products.
Allergic asthma, where attacks are triggered by allergies, is the most common type of asthma among children.
Emma added: “If you notice that something is setting off your symptoms and they are worsening and not relieved with a prescription inhaler, seek a GP appointment within 24 hours or call 999.
“There’s not really strong evidence that air purifiers work and they’re expensive so we encourage people instead to take their medication or seek a doctor’s advice if they do not have a pre-existing diagnosis but have developed symptoms.
“We can’t avoid these inside triggers altogether, so instead it’s about learning to live with them.”
Here, Emma reveals where the threats lie in each room of your home . . .
Table of Contents
THE paint used on your walls is full of volatile organic compounds because of the agents used to bind the colour and make it shiny.
These can trigger allergies, causing itchy eyes or skin, block airways and trigger asthma attacks.
Choose a low VOC water-based paint, but be aware they can still lead to reactions. Open windows while decorating.
WHILE people aren’t allergic to dust, they are allergic to dust mites which can gather quickly in soft toys and bedding.
Wash them regularly – ideally once a week or as often as you can afford and manage to do so.
Doing this will keep allergies from flaring up, particularly among children who have smaller lungs and might have allergic asthma.
LIKE cleaning products, body sprays and deodorants can finely disperse a great deal of volatile organic compounds into the air.
Avoid anything with a gas canister or propellant.
Scents can also increase allergies when their particles enter our bloodstream.
Nail polish, like paint, contains VOCs to make it bind and appear shiny.
VAPOURS from burning scented candles contain allergens which can exacerbate allergic reactions, including asthma.
Furniture can pose a risk too as many pieces contain formaldehyde, which is another VOC.
Check the label for formaldehyde-free tables and chairs, particularly if you have a pre-existing health condition that could get worse.
CHEMICALS contained in cleaning products plus the gas found in spray propellant bottles can leave airways blocked, increase mucus and aggravate allergies or asthma.
Open windows while you clean.
Think about what you cook on too.
Making meals with gas can trigger reactions from the burnt particles it emits. Look out for VOCs in the coating of non-stick pans.