Understanding Indoor Air Quality in New Zealand

Girl coughing because of dust inside

Understanding Indoor Pollutants

Indoor air quality is important to understand to help maintain a healthy living environment. In New Zealand, common pollutants affecting us indoors include:

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds):

Emitted by household products like paints and cleaners. Think of these as fumes and generally anything with a strong smell. That 'new house' smell from a newly built home? Potentially harmful VOCs!

Particulate Matter (PM):

Tiny particles from dust, smoke, aerosols and more. Typically it's referred to as either PM10 - coarse particles between 2.5 and 10 microns in size, or PM2.5 which are less than 2.5 microns in size. These PM2.5 particles are especially concerning, as they can make their way deep into the lungs and into your bloodstream.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2):

Main sources of this are gas stoves and diesel vehicle exhausts. This has been becoming more of a concern in recent times, as the impacts become known.

Viruses and Bacteria:

We're all familiar with this now. Some viruses can spread through the air, particularly in closed environments when people are around.

Why Indoor Air Quality Matters

The world is increasingly waking up to the importance of indoor air quality in recent years. Given the fact some estimates show we spend up to 90% of our time indoors, this can have a big impact on our health!
Poor quality air can lead to many health issues, including respiratory problems, allergies, and aggravated asthma. In New Zealand, where seasonal allergies are common, maintaining good indoor air quality is especially important.

Common Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants

Many of us are probably aware that our houses in New Zealand often aren't the healthiest. Poor ventilation can lead to indoor air pollutants becoming more of a problem than they otherwise would. A number of typical sources are:

  • Household Products: Many cleaning agents, paints, and adhesives release VOCs.
  • Combustion Devices: Gas stoves and fireplaces emit nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Outdoor pollution (especially in winter) from vehicles and other people's fireplaces also find their way inside.
  • Biological Contaminants: Mould, pet dander, and pollen are significant sources of indoor pollutants.

Qingping Pro air quality monitor in kitchen

Even cooking can contribute to poor air quality!

Health Impacts of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Exposure to indoor air pollutants can cause, or worsen a range of health problems:

  • Respiratory Issues: Inhaling pollutants like PM and nitrogen dioxide can irritate the respiratory tract.
  • Allergic Reactions: Pollutants like pollen and pet dander can trigger allergies.
  • Chronic Health Problems: Long-term exposure can lead to chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular issues and cancer in the case of certain VOCs.
Changes to the way we live have changed dramatically over the past decades, and we're exposed to pollutants we're only just beginning to understand the impact of!

Improving Indoor Air Quality

SA600 air purifier in lounge with pets

We've written an entire article on this topic here. However, to protect your health and improve indoor air quality, consider the following steps:

  1. Air Purifiers: Use air purifiers equipped with HEPA and activated carbon filters to remove particles and gases from the air. Check out our range of affordable, quiet and powerful air purifiers
  2. Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation to dilute indoor pollutants and bring in fresh air. Use that extractor fan when you cook!
  3. Regular Cleaning: Maintain cleanliness to reduce dust, mould, and other allergens.
  4. Avoid VOCs: Choose low-VOC or VOC-free products for household cleaning and maintenance.

Want to learn more about the air quality in your home or workplace? Take a look at our Air Quality Monitors.

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