Could This Be The Biggest Threat to Your Health? What Research Says About Your Home Air Quality 

July 31, 2021

Have you ever questioned your home air quality? It's not something we're accustomed to thinking about, but it's definitely something we should all be considering.

Did you know that air pollution has become the world's single biggest environmental health risk? Not only has it been linked to around 7 million deaths a year, but over half of those are due to poor indoor air quality!

Concerned about this growing issue and how it impacts our health, I decided to dive into the research and want to share with you exactly what you need to know to help prevent this from happening in your home.


What Research Says About Problems With Our Home Air Quality

According to a 2018 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution has become “the world's single biggest environmental health risk”—mainly due to the fact that it’s been linked to around 7 million deaths each year. [1]

Moreover, this report revealed that both indoor and outdoor air pollution was linked to an increased risk of not only respiratory infections but also strokes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and even cancer (mainly lung cancer)!

Finally, the report confirmed that indoor air pollution is responsible for approximately 3.8 million premature deaths each year.


Home Air Quality


So, what’s causing all this indoor air pollution?

According to research, it’s a culmination of outdoor air pollutants coming inside and indoor pollutant sources. [2]

Everything from construction to transportation emissions to mills to outdoor chemicals to greenhouse gases to tobacco smoke can travel inside your home.

Then, when you combine that with cooking emissions, indoor smoking, indoor air sprays, and allergens from dust mites, rodents, bugs, pollens, and even your pets, you have the perfect storm or poor indoor air quality. [3]

So, this naturally leads us the question at hand: How can you know if your home air quality is poor?

There are actually companies who will come and test your home air quality, with prices ranging from $250 to $600. It’s the only way to definitively know the status of your personal home air quality. You can check out local pricing here.

You can also look for some of the temporary, or more acute, symptoms of air pollution. Keep reading to learn more about the top symptoms you’re dealing with indoor air pollution.

Top Symptoms You’re Dealing with Indoor Air Pollution

When it comes to poor home air quality, you’ll notice some more immediate, acute symptoms first. But if the problem lingers and your home air quality doesn’t improve, these symptoms will progress into more troubling symptoms and conditions.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what to look for if you suspect you may be dealing with poor home air quality. [4]

Short-term symptoms and effects:

  • Itchy, watery, or burning eyes
  • Itchy or scratchy, sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose, often including sneezing
  • Skin reactions, such as hives
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea

Long-term symptoms and effects:

  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • New-onset asthma or worsening of existing asthma
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer, especially lung cancer

What You Can Do To Improve Your Home Air Quality

It’s scary, right? While there isn’t much you can do immediately about poor outdoor air quality, there are a few things you can do to improve your personal home air quality.

Ideally, if you suspect or find that your home air quality is less than healthy, an indoor air filter is the way to go. Air filters work by filtering out small yet harmful particles that you can’t see from the air. And several studies have shown that they’re highly effective in filtering both indoor and outdoor pollutants from your home’s air.

There are whole-house filtration systems as well as portable individual room air purifiers. Some people even use certain filters for their bedrooms to encourage better sleep.

HEPA filters are one of the more common options, as they’re both used in hospitals and in many homes that contain air filters. And there’s a reason why: For every 10,000 particles in the air, only three will pass through a HEPA filter. [5]

While having an air filter is ideal, there are also other things you can do to promote indoor air quality. Personally, I love to diffuse essential oils to promote optimal air quality. And lemon oil and peppermint oil are two of my favorites.

Here’s why? Research has shown that lemon essential oil helps to clarify the air impurities in your home.

In a 2019 study, researchers measured the efficacy of diffusing specific essential oils in reducing the microbial contamination in two different hospital wards. The researchers measured the amounts of airborne bacteria and fungi in the wards before diffusing essential oils.

Then, they diffused both lemon and silver fir essential oils into the air and found that airborne bacteria were reduced by approximately 40 percent just two hours after the oils were diffused. Moreover, the airborne fungi were reduced by up to an astonishing 60 percent! [6]

Additionally, according to in vitro studies, peppermint oil was found to contain anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-allergenic properties. [7] Based on these findings, along with its pure, crisp scent, I love to diffuse peppermint oil in my home to help boost air quality.

Furthermore, scientists have found that peppermint oil can actually help relieve many bacterial, fungal, and viral infections when inhaled. [89]

Personally, I like to diffuse a mixture of lavender, peppermint, and lemon essential oils to help reduce the effect of allergens and airborne pathogens in my home.

Try adding two to three drops of each in your diffuser to help reduce the microbes and pollutants in your living space. Plus, the peppermint is especially helpful in opening your sinuses while the lavender provides a calming effect.


Key Takeaways

  • Air pollution has become the world's single biggest environmental health risk, with 3.8 million yearly deaths being attributed to poor indoor air quality.
  • Both indoor and outdoor air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of not only respiratory infections but also strokes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and even cancer!
  • Research has found that indoor air filters, such as HEPA filters, are highly effective at removing 99.7 percent of all air pollutants from indoor air.
  • You may also consider diffusing essential oils, such as lemon and peppermint, which have been shown to improve air quality as well.
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