Recent analysis from Airthings, a manufacturer of air quality monitors, found that as the world went into lockdown, the quality of air in our homes took a turn for the worse.
VOC levels (Volatile Organic Compounds) were measured in homes across Europe and the US, at different times of the day. Analysts paid particular attention to pollution levels during working hours, in an attempt to understand how working from home has impacted air quality.
VOC’s 50% higher than safe levels
The first spike took place in March, when most countries went into their first lockdown. The next occurred in the fall, in line with the second lockdown. At their peak, VOC levels were around 50% higher than what is considered safe. And in Europe, VOC’s remained at unsafe levels for the entire year.
VOC’s linked to serious illness
VOC’s are emitted from hundreds of everyday items, such as furnishing, flooring, cleaning products and paint. In the short term, exposure to VOC’s can cause headaches, as well as eye, nose and throat irritation. Long term exposure to VOC’s can lead to much more serious conditions, such as kidney and liver damage.
Cleaning products are often to blame
This drop in air quality may have been due, in part, to an increase in cleaning during lockdown. Cleaning products often contain harsh chemicals that can play havoc with indoor air quality. Which is why we recommend using non-toxic alternatives, such as Branch Basics. Their range of plant and mineral based cleaning products are an effective way to clean your home, without the need for chemicals.
Californian study finds high levels of PM2.5 during lockdown
In another study, scientists from the University of California also looked at indoor air quality levels during the lockdown period. They found that PM2.5 increased by as much as 24% when compared to 2019. Peaks often occurred in the afternoon and early evening, a time in the day when meals are prepared.
Cooking dinner can seriously impact air quality
This supports an earlier study from scientists at the University of Texas. They monitored air quality while preparing a Thanksgiving meal. Running the burners at full heat and using the oven for a solid five hours, caused pollutants to reach dangerously high levels. If the kitchen had been a city, safety warnings would’ve been issued. At one point, pollution levels exceeded the most polluted city in the world, New Delhi. Even the healthiest of individuals would be at risk when concentrations are that high.
Austin Air voted number one for VOC’s by New York Times Wirecutter Magazine
Here at Austin Air, we have been manufacturing portable air purifiers for more than 30 years. Using a combination of Medical Grade HEPA and 15lbs of activated carbon, our air purifiers will effectively remove a wide range of pollutants, including those emitted when cooking and cleaning.
In tests carried out by the New York Times Wirecutter Magazine, Austin Air was the only air purifier to effectively remove VOC’s from the environment.