Solenco 5L Low Energy Dehumidifier 1

4 ways winter air quality impacts your health – and what to do about it

A change of season can bring on allergies with all their associated uncomfortable and difficult-to-manage symptoms. As we head toward winter, no matter where you are in South Africa, the seasonal flu is looming, and conditions are becoming either dryer or rainier, as well as cooler.

According to Trevor Brewer, managing director of air treatment specialist Solenco, the resulting asthma, allergies and other health issues caused by the quality of air you breathe can significantly impact your ability to function from day to day.

He outlines 4 ways the change of season and accompanying air quality impacts your health:

Dry air

    In Gauteng specifically, the dry air that comes with the move into autumn and winter is a particular bug bear. Not only does your skin barrier suffer, but so do your airways. “For people with respiratory or lung issues such as asthma and bronchitis, cold and dry air narrows airways and makes it harder to breathe. For those without respiratory challenges, dry air can also cause pain and inflammation in the throat, especially while you sleep,” says Brewer.

    A humidifier is one of the best solutions to keep your indoor air at optimal moisture levels, to improve your comfort and your health this flu season. It’s also effective at opening up your airways and helping decongest blocked or stuffy noses.

    Brewer recommends an evaporative (mist-free) humidifier with an antibacterial filter that prevents the distribution and inhalation of any bacteria lurking in untreated water. “Look for a humidifier with auto function to keep humidity levels optimal with no effort at all.”

    Excess moisture

    In areas that see winter rainfall, like the Western Cape, excess moisture can cause sinus congestion and sneezing. “Too much moisture also increases the likelihood of mould, which can wreak havoc on your respiratory system and bring about allergic symptoms,” says Brewer.

    “A dehumidifier not only prevents damp and mould (and the smell that comes with it), but effectively removes water vapour that tends to gather in cooler months when you are heating your home, or drying your laundry indoors with the windows and doors shut. “

    Poor ventilation

    The approaching winter probably means you’re spending more time indoors. More time in doors and less ventilation means more dust, more pet dander and more bacteria with nowhere to escape. Enter the spread of the winter sniffs!

    With loadshedding and the rising cost of electricity in South Africa, trapping heat in our homes in the colder months is an important aspect of our day-to-day lives, but Brewer says this is often to the detriment of our health. “Energy- and inverter-friendly air purifiers are a great way to keep excess dust and pet dander at bay, and destroy bacteria and airborne viruses that may be lurking.”

    Indoor air pollution

    It’s common knowledge that air pollution in South Africa has reached dangerously high levels, but most people don’t realise that the concentration of pollutants and toxins found in the air is sometimes two to five times higher indoors, according to the World Health Organization.

    There are many everyday objects and products that we have in our homes that can be the cause of indoor air pollution. Stoves, space heaters and fireplaces all put out carbon monoxide as well as nitrogen dioxide in the air.

    Seemingly harmless household furniture, rugs and products such as varnishes, paints, aerosol sprays and some cleaning products can also contain harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs include a variety of chemicals released in the form of gases, which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects from eye, nose or throat irritation, to headaches and longer term damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system.

    “Add the impact of compounding levels of VOCs to poor ventilation during the winter season and you have a serious health hazard on your hands,” says Brewer. “Individuals should be looking to solutions such as low-energy electric heaters to minimise carbon monoxide risks, and air purifiers that use filtration mechanisms to remove toxins from the air.” When air enters a system using HEPA technology, it passes through a HEPA filter, which removes harmful particulates. HEPA filters can filter out 99.98% of all particles in the air which are 0.03 microns in size or greater.

    You could stock up on medicine to deal with the symptoms that come with seasonal changes – but not all of these health risks are irreversible, so instead of spending money on treatments and medicine down the line, put measures in place now to prevent these adverse effects by investing in technology that helps protect the air you breathe this winter season.

    Leave a Comment