What to do in case of a pollution peak?
I’m outside, am I in mortal danger?
Everybody stay calm! Simply avoid intense physical activities – they make you more vulnerable to pollution by increasing the volume of air you breathe and opening your pulmonary alveoli.
Use the Plume Air Report to schedule your activities for when pollution is lowest. Avoid major roads, and try to breathe through your nose—which filters particulate matter better. (Isn’t Mother Nature amazing?) Use your run as an opportunity for a quick stop-off at a park, river or pedestrianized area!
What mode of transport should I take?
Leave your car at home! As well as being bad for the environment, taking your car out during a pollution peak is bad for your health. Research shows that the inside of a car prevents pollutants from dispersing. It’s a real cocktail in there! The damage is much more intense inside your car than outside it, greatly increasing your exposure.
Nevertheless, if you have to drive: Close your windows if you are in heavy traffic. Set up closed-circuit air conditioning in order to recycle and filter the air in your vehicle. If you don’t have AC, it’s also possible to temporarily stop your car’s ventilation system in high pollution areas. Open your windows to clean out air pollution when driving down less congested streets!
Your bike is your best friend! Contrary to popular belief, bikes are the means of transport that least exposes you to air pollution! Ride on cycle lanes whenever you can, breathe through your nose and don’t push yourself too hard. Your lungs (and your thighs!) will thank you! Be careful not to cycle too fast, so as not to get out of breath.
How can I avoid air pollution at home?
Air quality is just as important indoors as it is outdoors. We spend 90% of our time inside, and during that time we aren’t necessarily breathing any better. How can you better protect yourself at home? Here’s our advice for keeping a clean air household.
Throw those curtains wide!
Ventilate your home on a daily basis: The ideal scenario would be to open all the external windows and doors for 10 to 15 minutes a day—whatever the season—so as to renew fully the air in your home. It’s also a good idea to ventilate after cooking or cleaning the house. Pro tip: Use the Plume Air Report to choose the best moment to ventilate when outdoor air pollution is lowest!
Regularly clean the air vents in damp rooms: You’ll probably have one in your bathroom or kitchen. These vents can be super useful for controlling humidity in your home, but let’s be honest, what’s the point of having them if they’re always so filthy?
Show indoor pollution sources no mercy!
Mold: Okay, so no one is saying you live in a hut in the woods. But even the cleanest houses can sometimes fall victim to mold. It emits volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) that can cause asthma and allergies, especially in children. One magical remedy: white vinegar and elbow grease! To prevent mold occurring before it even arrives, consider buying a dehumidifier.
Household products: These can be crammed with irritating substances such as ink, glue or solvents. Research local environmental standards, and keep an eye out when reading the label! For example, the European ECOLABEL ensures that detergents contain less than 0.01% irritating substances. You can also use “allergy-proof” products – try looking for local co-operatives or brands. It’s better to go for multi-use products, to avoid combining multiple irritants. Make sure to store these products in a safe, ventilated area. Avoid sprays. When it doubt, the old remedies are the best ones. Try savon noir or white vinegar instead!
Decorating baby’s room before the big day? Paints and other solvents used in painters’ products can emit VOCs. Allow time for them to disperse, and in order to limit their impact, ventilate like there’s no tomorrow! Ideally, undertake renovations in the summer—you’ll be able to ventilate longer. Make sure you still open your windows if it’s winter, as heating can help volatile organic compounds to spread. Don’t forget to close all containers immediately after use to avoid excessive levels of pollutants being released.
Don’t smoke. You were hoping we’d forget to mention this one, huh? Never forget that tobacco smoke contains benzene, formaldehyde and particulate matter, all substances classified as carcinogenic and that worsen allergic reactions. Don’t smoke around children! If you need a cigarette, smoke outside and clean thoroughly any textiles that come in contact with smoke on a regular basis!
Be wary of home fragrances (such as incense, deodorisers and scented candles). They smell good, but many fragrances can be allergy-inducing. There are official lists of safe-to-use products, and harmful substances should be mentioned on product labels.
Don’t overheat your home: Heat enables gas release, causing VOCs to spread even more widely. You’ll also save money! Heating your home just one degree less causes a 7% drop in consumption. The ideal indoor temperature is between 19°C and 21°C.
Close the door between the garage and your house. This prevents particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide produced by your car from entering your home when you start your engine.
“But the damage is done!” I hear you cry
Don’t worry, air pollution can still be driven out!
Vacuum carpets and rugs regularly to eliminate mites. Remember to change the bags in your vacuum cleaner and opt for brands with quality filters.