Have you ever had a fit of coughing or sneezing at home?
The answer could be right under your nose.
Everyday objects, from stuffed animals and scented candles to paint and furniture, can be hazardous to your health.
While we often focus on the air we breathe outside, household items can have a major impact on what enters our lungs and bloodstream, triggering allergic reactions and damaging our respiratory health.
There are now nearly 5.4 million people in England with asthma and 1.4 million with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Scientists say pollution, both indoors and outdoors, is a major factor in the country’s deteriorating respiratory health.
Emma Rubach, head of health advice at charity Asthma + Lung UK, told the Sun on Sunday Health: “Many people are unaware of the seriousness of indoor air pollution.
“We know that particles from everyday objects and products in our homes, like traffic fumes, trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions.
“There is increasing evidence that these particles can also cause respiratory diseases.
“Symptoms include a cough that won’t go away and keeps you up at night, wheezing, or shortness of breath.”
Poor ventilation, mold and gas cookers are among the main triggers of lung disease and potentially fatal asthma attacks.
But there is much more.
Emma warns against using wood stoves, 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) in the air.”
“You are more likely to breathe in fine particles, such as those found in cleaning products, deodorant sprays or even scented candles.
“These pose a health risk for all ages, but especially for children, whose lungs are smaller and breathe faster, and therefore pick up more invisible particles floating around them.”
Some air monitors can detect VOCs and VOCs should always be labeled on products.
Allergic asthma, in which attacks are triggered by allergies, is the most common form of asthma in children.
Emma added, “If you notice something triggering your symptoms and they get worse and are not relieved with a prescription inhaler, make an appointment with your GP within 24 hours or call 999.”
“There’s no really compelling evidence that air purifiers work, and they’re expensive. That’s why we recommend people take their medication instead, or seek a doctor’s advice if they don’t have a prior diagnosis but have developed symptoms.
“We can’t entirely avoid these inner triggers; instead, it’s about learning to live with them.”
Here, Emma reveals where dangers lurk in each room of your home. . .
The paint you use on your walls is full of VOCs because they bind the paint and give it shine.
These can trigger allergies, cause itchy eyes or skin, obstruct airways, and trigger asthma attacks.
Choose a water-based, low-VOC paint, but be aware that it can still cause reactions. When decorating, open the windows.
WHILE humans aren’t allergic to dust, they are allergic to dust mites, which can quickly build up in stuffed animals and bedding.
Wash them regularly – ideally once a week or as often as you can afford and manage.
This prevents allergy flare-ups, especially in children who have smaller lungs and may suffer from allergic asthma.
LIKE cleaning products, body sprays and deodorants can disperse large amounts of volatile organic compounds in the air.
Avoid anything with a gas cartridge or propellant.
Fragrances can also increase allergies if their particles enter our bloodstream.
Like paint, nail polish contains VOCs to make it bind and give it a shiny look.
Fumes from burning scented candles contain allergens that can aggravate allergic reactions, including asthma.
Furniture can also pose a risk, as many pieces contain formaldehyde, another VOC.
Check the label for formaldehyde-free tables and chairs, especially if you have existing health conditions that could be getting worse.
CHEMICALS in cleaning supplies and the gas in spray bottles can clog airways, increase mucus production and worsen allergies or asthma.
Open the windows when cleaning.
Also think about what you are cooking for.
Preparing meals with gas can trigger reactions due to the resulting burnt particles. Watch out for VOCs in the coating of non-stick pans.