Indoor air pollution: I went to a talk... - Asthma UK communi...

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Indoor air pollution

Wheezycat
Wheezycat
30 Replies

I went to a talk last night at York university, on indoor air pollution, and it was really interesting. It seems it is likely that the pollution levels in any average home is likely to be higher than outdoors. There were figures, but I have’t got them at my finger tips. There are, of course, various materials used in buildings, carpets and new fittings, but also things we may choose to use, like air fresheners especially plug in ones, scented candles, cleaning products, especially the aerosol type and more. There was also cooking! For me this was so interesting as I react on many of them, and even sat with my Cambridge Mask on when I was waiting for our Christmas dinner to get ready! I could really feel it without the mask.

We are all different, and I am certainly not intending to preach, but wouldn’t it be good if we could reduce the use of scented candles and air fresheners especially? And other things too that we perhaps need less than we think we do?

30 Replies
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emmasue

Thanks for this. I do know that certain scents set me off, but others don't. I can't use aerosol sprays. Strong cleaning products set me off, definitely! But dust is the worst. I got a mask for when I am cleaning.

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Wheezycat
Wheezycat
in reply to emmasue

Dust often makes me sneeze, but is otherwise fine for me. But I have my mask when I need it.

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elanaoali
elanaoali
in reply to Wheezycat

What kind of mask do you use for cleaning? I have several dustmite allergy.

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Wheezycat
Wheezycat
in reply to elanaoali

I don’t for dusting, at least not so far. I haven’t needed it. But I have got myself a Cambridge mask which I carry with me wherever I go. I have several friends with wood burning stoves and they can certainly irritate, so I might bring it out then, or when flying, etc, etc. If I needed to I would also try it for dusting.

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MaggieHP
MaggieHP
in reply to emmasue

Dust is a trigger for me too, but I had to dispense with dust masks after they triggered eczema on my face - it was horrendous. I even tried surgical masks - no better.

However I have found that using a dusting brush attachment on the hoover has helped enormously (any disturbed dust goes straight up the hoover) and in areas that I can’t get at with the hoover damp dusting is a must.

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Wheezycat
Wheezycat
in reply to MaggieHP

Is that an additional attachment to your normal attachment, or instead of for normal hoovering?

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MaggieHP
MaggieHP
in reply to Wheezycat

It’s a small round dusting brush attachment that comes with our hoover (a Miele allervac).

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Wheezycat
Wheezycat
in reply to MaggieHP

Yeah, the usual sort. I have two, and I have misplaced both............

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MaggieHP

I’ve been caught out in a hotel when a room we had booked turned out to have been cleaned with something that got my lungs tightening almost as soon as we entered the room. To be fair to the hotel, they moved us to another room the moment we alerted them and they also checked with the cleaner to try to work out what had been used (it turned out to be a spray polish rather than a cleaning agent). We certainly got the impression they were as keen to know as we were - hopefully so they could avoid it in future.

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Wheezycat
Wheezycat
in reply to MaggieHP

Great to hear the hotel were interested! The worst reaction I have had so far has been to burning incense. Once I certainly had more irritable lungs for a week afterwards, and once it was so mild I forgot about it after taking an extra inhaler for safety’s sake, but I was still affected for about the next 36 hours. There are things I remove myself from, or I remove them. Another weird moment was when I was working with another person in a small room, with a closed door for privacy’s sake, I started to wonder if there was a pipe somewhere piping in air freshener or something, as the (awful) smell grew and grew, but luckily we could finish our task and leave before I had to make my excuse. Later I found out that the other person was wearing some aftershave that starts to smell stronger when he puts it on his skin. I have been known to walk away from public space due to scented candles - some I can bear even if I don’t like them. Only last week I was somewhere where there was a strong chemical fragrance, and I kept looking for the source, until I realised it was from my hands.....it was the soap in that place that had strong fragrance. Yuk! I, too, have reacted on cleaning products, noticing that rooms or inside of buses has had something done to it, but so far I can cope with it, except Pledge.

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Lysistrata

I've noticed some shops have started using fragrance more - one time so strongly that it was affecting me as I walked past! (Normally that's just Lush). I realise the whole world can't cater for me but I do find that annoying as it's just not necessary IMO for a clothes shop etc and often doesn't even seem to be nice scent - bit strong/cheap smelling. The 'gift' type shops are usually the worst offenders so I only venture into those cautiously - can be difficult if I'm with someone who wants to have a look.

It was quite entertaining once when I had to stand outside a jewellery shop and choose my bday present from a distance by pointing, because they had incense going. I mean, it's probably a good thing to stop me getting any more jewellery given I am a magpie, but again it just seems a bit unnecessary - does scenting your shop strongly actually get more business? I guess the only times it makes sense to me is more upscale shops where they do it subtly and then I do think mmm this smells nice (or used to...now it's a toss up between 'mmm nice' and 'oh $%^&*() that's rose isn't it'.)

I'm really not keen on those perfume testers by the counter in some shops. I've been caught out by those more than once.

Also don't get me started on burst air fresheners in loos - especially when it's, err, hard to escape if they go off when you're still occupied! Last time it was luckily only just as I'd locked the door so I came right out, but still had a rather difficult trip home.

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Wheezycat

I have recently read a book The case against fragrances (I think, I will check) by Kate Grenville. She is an Australian fiction writer, who seems to suffer badly with sensitivity to fragrances, though she is not an asthmatic. So she spent time gathering evidence, reading up on reports etc, etc and summarised , sort of , in a book. I wasn’t sure all her conclusions were accurate, but as she gave all references I could check it out. Anyway, it kind of matched the talk I went to last night, which was given by a researcher in chemistry who is specialising in indoor pollution. One thing is very clear, and that is that we are right to be so concerned, not just for ourselves, but for anyone, as this will affect all, or at least most - eventually. And I have asked for more info in writing, so I can remember a few more facts.

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Wheezycat

I mostly don’t react quite that badly, but recently I decided to remove a reed air freshener out of a cafe toilet. Put it outside, in the main shop, in a discreet corner. Maybe I should print up some leaflets and leave a trail of them where I encounter these things, and other unnecessary annoyances. ‘These are polluting and causing damage both to all people and to the atmosphere, and in particular to people who are sensitive to them, like me.’

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Lysistrata

Oh I have often removed them ans hidden them somewhere at work! We couldn't get the cleaner to understand at my last job and she kept putting more in.

The worst place I encounter them is actually *in* hospitals. If I find one in the bathroom on the ward I bring it out and ask the nurse to not use it and to put it somewhere no one else can. In November though I had 3 separate spray incidents all from staff! And in Oct another patient in the bay sprayed deodorant everywhere without checking ans I had to sit outside the bay for a couple of hours gasping (and getting weird looks like I'd been sent to see the headmaster lol). The nurse did have a firm word with her and asked her not to do it again.

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Wheezycat

Yes, hospitals......though not as dramatic as yours I have also had words about air fresheners in toilets. Or, rather, complaints. And I am amazed when I have contact with any doctor who uses any kind fragrance! How ill informed is that!

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Lysistrata

There is a lovely nurse in my usual hospital (some people have the pub lol) who really needs to get some better aftershave...not helpful. Do medical staff really need to wear strong scent to work?

I do feel resus and the respiratory ward could be scent free at a minimum!

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strongmouse

My GPs surgery recently installed a Pharmacy - run for profit. Consquequtnly they sell a lot of personal toiletries as well. It opens directly off the GP's surgery. Last week I was standing waiting for my prescription and a young girl was there waiting with her mother. A few minuted later I realised that she had sprayer a tester perfume a few feet away from me! As I felt my chest tighten my prescription arrived. I said to the assistant could she ask the manager if they could remove them especially next to the counter. At first she shrugged and said 'People like to try them out'. When I explained and asked her to speak to the manager she said the would, but Monday this week when I had to take my husband to the doctor's they were still there.

When I have a little more energy I will write a letter to them. What made me cross was that they have cards promoting the pharmacy saying something to th e effect that your health matters!!!!!

I feel quite determined not to let this rest but think I've got a battle on my hands. I'll let you know how I get on.

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Wheezycat

That is outrageous! Profit before health, quite clearly! And lack of understanding. Do fight on!

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Lysistrata

Ugh. I mean I get not everywhere can cater to everyone but I feel in a pharmacy where you do need to go, there could be a different attitude. You can't really just avoid it like you could a shop. They could at least consider the health aspects and try to look for solutions. Good luck!

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Saassii

Amen to that!!! I'm chemically sensitive also and all of those things are debilitating to me!!!! People without education in these matters, of which I was one, understand nothing about this. We need education at schools across the world, especially in our first world... It's rife there.

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Jandm

There are so many things in the home that can trigger an exacerbation. The only home I feel safe in is my own. No scented candles, plug ins, bleaches, aerosols etc, and if I were to visit anyone, then I have to check that they don’t have them either (along with other everyday household items). It’s incredibly limiting to say the least, but even more limiting to be fighting for your breath for months after being exposed to these things! It literally is a minefield our there. You always have to think ahead.

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strongmouse
strongmouse
in reply to Jandm

Several years ago we did a chemical clean up of the home. It took quite some time. No scented products, chemicals not used regulaly are stored in the shed or garage. Most of the carpets replaced - my husband researched which were best wooden floors gave off least 'gas'. Many gases are VOC - volatile organis chemicals - and these can be harmful. It seems mad that we are bombarded with so many products containing harmful ingredients.

New plastics and foam can be harmful too. My home has become a safe haven and even magazines and newspapers often have to be 'aired off' before I can look at them! Books on detoxing your home are worth looking at to minimise exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. It is possible but requires thought and planning, as Jandm says.

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Puff_pastry

It IS a minefield, and not just in the house: college was a nightmare, especially during life drawing classes, an armada of first years armed with fixative and charcoal literally filling the halls with sticky clouds of toxic poop, blarg. The lecturer used to crack open a tiny window and act offended when I called them out. (We had a balcony specifically for that purpose.)

It got so bad in the end I had to work on a separate floor.

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MELNEL

Yup I agree with emmasue. I also have problems with strong cleaning products, like bleach and some air fresheners. Don't have a problem with candles. Of course dust is worse. I have in every room an air purifier, they do help a lot. I have two cats myself and not allergic to them. I use a mask to when cleaning.

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robert1957

hello wheezycat can you remember when these smells started to irritate you . We have a wonderful organ inside all of us that when it is working well it takes all these poisons and deals with them it stops them from reaching all other organs protecting them from harm when it becomes overloaded it can't protect us so these irritant's Cause havoc with our health this wonderful organ is your liver please look after your liver and it will look after you good luck 😊

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Wheezycat

You may well be right, but we also need to be concerned about all these things being serious pollutants for anyone! We react faster, like the canaries sent into mines, and perhaps we should see that as a warning sign, not just a weakness.

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robert1957

what can we do, if you don't have this problem its hard for people even your own family to except that these substances can effect your health in such a bad way, not until the ambulance arrives to take you to hospital do they realise there actions have made you ill. We cant stop people using hairspray,deodorant,aftershave,or any other offending substance the problem is within us

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Kl50

Yes I recently learned alot more about indoor air pollution as well. Radon is another indoor concern and people should test their homes for radon levels. I personally have stopped buying air fresheners or burning candles. The pollution from cooking oil really surprised me! Had no idea

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Wheezycat
Wheezycat
in reply to Kl50

We learned from the talk we listened to that cooking on an electric cooker produces less pollution than a gas one. So now I know what I need to look for when our cooker needs changing. Yes, cooking oils got mentioned, but not in detail. Radon? Isn’t that somehow linked with granite? So it depends on what area you live in, at least in part? This talk was focused more on formaldehyde and what produces ozone. It was too short to unravel all finer chemical type details.

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Kl50

Yes radon can be in granite. Comes from the ground and can be pulled into homes through the foundation. Higher concentrations depending where you live.

Sounds like a very interesting talk

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