When airing out the house pollutes the air we breathe


What happens when outdoor air meets indoor air

Arieggiare casa.

A study carried out by American researchers highlights the fact that in high weather conditions (very high or excessively cold temperatures), the air we let into our homes from outside causes a chemical reaction that is very dangerous to our health.

Until now we have always thought that opening windows was a good habit but we should take a step back if we want to protect our well-being.

When we open the windows our intention is to let the unhealthy air out to replace it with the ”new” air from outside. But what could happen is the entry of harmful particles that, joining with the indoor air, form a risky agglomerate for the occupants who breathe it.


The study conducted by Missouri University of Science and Technology

A study on this issue was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from Missouri University of Science and Technology. The project entitled ”Exposure to indoor pollutants associated with oxidative chemistry: field studies and window-opening behavior” analyzes the relationship that may exist between the intake of outside air and the occurrence of chemical reactions.

”Having an open window affects the rate of air exchange, and outside air alters the composition of indoor air,” explains Glenn Morrison, professor of environmental engineering who led the research. ”When chemicals enter and have a chemical reaction inside the home, a very complex pollutant phenomenon is created.”


Humidity and energy expenditure

Opening windows brings comfort because this way we can oxygenate rooms laden with carbon dioxide and other contaminants and let out any bad odors.

But if we ventilate too much, especially in extreme temperatures, the risk is to find ourselves in an environment with excessive humidity which, in addition to causing visible damage on walls and furniture, can cause the proliferation of mold and bacteria harmful to our health.

Some mold species can release toxic substances that are harmful to humans, especially children and the elderly.

In addition, we also have to deal with the waste of energy that is inevitable when we are in the presence of an inordinate temperature change.

In summer, if we have the air conditioner on and let in much warmer air than indoors, our system will have to consume much more energy to maintain its temperature.

The same thing happens in the winter season when we let cold, harsh air into a warm room.

Flap opening is not the solution: it may limit the waste, but it will not eliminate it.


What to do?

La soluzione

Arieggiare correttamente la casa non vuol dire tenere sempre aperte le finestre.

Airing the house properly does not mean keeping the windows open all the time: this could cause unnecessary energy loss and the need to constantly adjust our system to the outdoor temperature. Ideally, every morning we should open all the windows for 10 minutes to have an exchange of air without creating excessive temperature changes.

After we have dedicated ourselves to some of the domestic activities such as cooking food or after taking a shower, if we want to prevent moisture from being transmitted to adjacent rooms, it is better not to open the door that faces other rooms, but to open, if possible, the outside windows for a few minutes.


Step one: monitor the humidity and temperature value

To ensure a constant climate and good air quality, humidity should be kept between 40% and 60%.
Too high a humidity level becomes dangerous because the latter settles on the walls creating mold spores that can cause, in the long run, respiratory infections, allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

Humidity and temperature go hand in hand, which is why we should not forget to keep both parameters under control at all times.

As temperature rises, humidity also increases, and consequently the release of chemicals into the air is elevated.

Maintaining the right temperature in rooms ensures health protection and contributes to the reduction of environmental pollution.
In a lifestyle that sees the concept of eco-sustainability more and more closely, it is also necessary to pay attention to temperatures in home and work spaces.

Monitoring humidity and temperature, however, is not enough to make sure we are breathing healthy air because we also have to deal with the pollutants that lurk within our homes.


Indoor contaminants present in our homes


Radon gas

Radon is the most dangerous of the indoor contaminants.

It is a radioactive noble gas of natural origin that is generated spontaneously and in small quantities in the subsurface and rocks and then spreads into the atmosphere.

As it dissipates, it can take over inside buildings, posing serious risks to occupants who breathe it in.

In fact, inhalation of Radon gas in indoor environments can trigger genetic mutations that sometimes degenerate into cancers and leukemia.

Like all noble gases, it is colorless and odorless, so it is difficult to detect.

It has been classified as a grade 1 human carcinogen (the highest level) by the World Health Organization.
Radon concentration is not constant but varies over time because it is affected by other environmental factors; it changes from day to night, according to the seasons and in relation to humidity.

Therefore, it is important to measure and monitor it constantly.

Fine Dust

Fine dust is so fine that it can hang around and be breathed in without us noticing it.
As they disperse in the air, they are able to absorb toxic gases and vapors, increasing concentrations of pollutant gases that reach lung areas carried by PM10 and PM2.5 particles.
By binding with radon gas in the air, they create a combination that exponentially increases the danger.
International scientific studies have shown that particulate matter can facilitate the transmission of viruses by accelerating viral outbreaks.


Volatile Organic Components VOCs

They are one of the main causes of indoor pollution.
They are chemical compounds capable of volatilizing, that is, easily evaporating in the air.
The sources of VOC pollution in indoor environments are many: cosmetic products, heating devices, cleaning materials, cigarette smoke, etc.
It is important to pay attention to these pollutants because they adversely affect human health as we breathe them in.
This risk can be prevented by indoor air monitoring.


Carbon dioxide

CO2 (carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide) is an odorless, colorless gas present in the atmosphere in limited concentrations.
In addition to being a gas responsible for global warming, it is also a gas that affects indoor air quality issues.
As CO2 levels in an enclosed space increase, the cognitive abilities of people who work or live in such environments decrease.
Increasing CO2 levels in the environment can lead to respiratory damage.
Therefore, it is important to make sure that the air we breathe in indoor spaces is free of VOCs and CO2.



Read more


Polluter pays?

The EU principle imposed on member states EU environmental policy aims to ensure that all EU citizens live in…

Christmas atmosphere results in tons of CO2 in the air

Let’s wish for a more sustainable Christmas With the arrival of December, streets in the city glow with a…