Christmas 2020 will be like no other. Stronger restrictions will prevent most people from celebrating as they would like, meeting friends in pubs and restaurants and attending Christmas parties. Instead, we will all be spending a lot more time indoors with the family. The downside to this is that long periods spent indoors affects the quality of air that we breathe. Chris Michael, MD at leading air treatment manufacturer Meaco, has suggestions on how to keep the air in your home healthy across this Christmas and New Year.
The Kitchen and Cooking
Food glorious food. We all eat lots over Christmas and one meal seems to merge into another. As well as effecting our waistlines it can also affect the air that we breathe.
- Try to leave kitchen windows open slightly to allow a constant source of fresh air particularly when gathering together for meals, and then socialising together around the kitchen table.
- If possible, have kitchen windows open at opposite ends of the room. This will help to create a through draft.
- Always use extractor fans when cooking, and before the Christmas season starts, clean the extractor hood filter to ensure decent airflow. Make sure that your extractor fans are working properly by placing a sheet of paper in front of the fan. If it sticks the fan is working fine; if the piece of paper falls to the ground then it is time for a bit of maintenance.
- Put lids on saucepans when boiling vegetables to minimise the about of steam coming into the room.
- Turn down heating systems in advance because the heat from the cooking and the people in the room will soon raise the temperature!
The scent of Christmas
Pine, cinnamon, gingerbread, oranges, cranberries are just some of the scents that remind us of Christmas and these days we often get them with scented candles and plug-in air fresheners.
As lovely as these scents are the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can be produced by the chemicals and compounds that are used within the products can bring on headaches (perhaps it wasn’t the mulled wine!) and can irritate the lungs, particularly in children. Try and not to have too many in one room and limit their use throughout the day.
Once again keeping windows open will help to make sure that concentrations don’t build up in a room.
People = Humidity
People spending time indoors for prolonged periods increases humidity in a home. You may notice that the kitchen windows fog up when there are lots of people chatting away in the kitchen. This is because we put moisture into the air as we breathe; we are probably putting the kettle on more often; and we are certainly cooking more. With more people staying for Christmas there will be more bathing and showering and more washing to dry too. All of this increases the humidity and can have an effect on your health and your home:
- Allergens such as dust mites and mould spores increase in the bedroom and bathrooms.
- More condensation appears on windows, especially on cold mornings
- Musty smells are a result of mould spores and are common in wardrobes on outside walls
- Jamming doors, peeling wallpaper, black spots around windows and in grouting and white ‘fur’ on clothes/shoes are all signs of humidity damage
- Even musical instruments like pianos and guitars can go out of tune in high humidity, no good for a family sing song!
- After a shower leave the bathroom window open for 30 minutes or so
- If you have to dry washing indoors then think about investing in a dehumidifier to dry the washing faster and to stop the moisture from going around the home
Nothing like a real fire at Christmas
A real fire can really set the atmosphere at Christmas time and there is nothing better having come in from outside than warming up next to the fireplace. But if you don’t use your fireplace on a regular basis then there is an increased risk of particle pollution in the room, especially from harmful PM2.5 matter which can cause issues in the lungs and cardiovascular systems. Nitrogen Oxides are also an issue if the fuel is not completely burnt out.
Have your fireplace and chimney regularly serviced.
- Keep small children away from the fireplace when in use and until it is completely cooled down.
- Fireplaces can create negative air pressure in the room sucking all of the heat in the house up the chimney, a costly and cold mistake.
- Always have a carbon monoxide alarm in a room with a fireplace.
- If using a wood burning fire then consider having an air purifier in the room for cleaner, healthier air.
Many of these problems, in particular mould, condensation and damp, can be resolved with a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier will lower the level of humidity by sucking in air from the room at one end, removing the moisture, and then blowing it back out into the room. A small property will need a small quiet dehumidifier, and one that can be moved between rooms. The MeacoDry ABC 10L and 12L range has been designed with flats and small homes in mind, with a whisper quiet noise level of 35dB, low-weight and availability in a choice of colours. The MeacoDry 20L is designed for the larger home. All have a been accredited with a Quiet Mark, after extensive testing found them to be the quietest products in their category.
For larger properties and spaces that can become very cold (garages, vacant holiday homes), the Meaco DD8L Zambezi dehumidifier works well at low temperatures, helps dry washing (is cheaper than using a tumble dryer), and as a desiccant dehumidifier, adds warmth back into a room. It has a Which? Best Buy Award .
Air quality will be improved by using a good air purifier to remove pollutants and allergens. The MeacoClean CA-HEPA 76×5 WiFi Air Purifier is Wi-Fi enabled, with a mobile app that lets you check on your air quality from wherever you are, and its H11 HEPA filter removes more than 95% of damaging particles from the air. It has an active carbon filter that will help to capture the increased VOCs produced at Christmas.
Meaco no longer uses any polystyrene packaging on its fans and humidifiers but 100% recyclable cardboard eggshell packaging as part of its commitment to the environment.
Established in 1991 specialising in monitoring and control equipment for museums and art galleries, Meaco soon expanded its air purification range to include award-winning cooling products, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and heaters distributed in over twenty countries throughout Europe, USA and South Africa. A winner of multiple Which? “Best Buy”, and Good Housekeeping Institute Tried and Tested Awards, and achieving the Quiet Mark status for its range of fans, Meaco’s expertise is unrivalled. Meaco’s products cater for the needs of home and industry, plus specialist areas including boating, caravanning and swimming pools. Its award-winning fans, the MeacoFan range, are designed to suit all room sizes, with advanced DC technology ensuring low noise levels, and low energy usage.