As families stay at home and self-isloate, a failure to keep homes ventilated will lead to increased stress, poor concentration and ill-health, according to one of the UK’s air quality experts, BRS Technology.

Within a day or so of stale air, the effects can include poor concentration, dry throat, coughs, shortness of breath, dizziness, restlessness, pins and needles feeling, sweating, tiredness, and increased heart rate.

While the team at BRS stress that it is incredibly unlikely a room could become toxic, it can quickly become uncomfortable – but simple steps can prevent that.

Levels of CO2 air quality in the home:

  • 250-350 ppm: background (normal) outdoor air level
  • 350-1,000 ppm: typical level found in occupied spaces with good air exchange
  • 1,000-2,000 ppm: level associated with complaints of drowsiness and poor air
  • 2,000-5,000 ppm: level associated with headaches, sleepiness, and stagnant, stale, stuffy air; poor concentration, loss of attention, increased heart rate and slight nausea may also be present.
  • >5,000 ppm: This indicates unusual air conditions where high levels of other gases also could be present. Toxicity or oxygen deprivation could occur. This is the permissible exposure limit for daily workplace exposures.
  • >40,000 ppm: This level is immediately harmful due to oxygen deprivation.

Indoor air quality has been less regulated than outdoor air quality for many years, though it is becoming a growing issue of concern with experts like Professor Stephen Holgate from the University of Southampton and Chris Large, senior partner at Global Action Plan speaking out about the issue.

The team at BRS Technology, who create AI-based software products for residential home monitoring and design, have compiled a list of advice to ensure home workers and self-isolators can ensure they have healthy air in their homes.

Michael McKiernan, BRS Director, said: “Bad air quality can be a problem that is simply solved – open doors in your house, unless someone is sick, and open windows for a few hours a day. Depending on the size of your house, that simple step should be enough. 

“Bad air quality – either through not opening windows or running heating constantly – can be a big problem in the home – and that can be a flat, a house, a nursing home or sheltered accomodation.

“Poor indoor air quality can impact your body in many ways – from feeling sleepy to being grumpy. What it is highly unlikely to do is kill you as you would need to remain in the same confined space for more than four or five days and very few people are likely to do that. 

“What it does mean though is that it’s vital we all check on relatives we have who may have mobility issues.”

The advice includes opening windows in each room for at least an hour a day, avoid indoor smoking, buying certain plants to help air quality and minimising use of air fresheners and aerosols.

The advice can be summarised as:

  • Try not to run your central heating 24/7
  • Open your windows for at least an hour per room
  • Use houseplants like the following: 
    • Bamboo Palm – (Dypsis lutescens)
    • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
    • Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
    • Janet Craig Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
    • Red Edged Dracaena -(Dracaena marginata)
    • Mass cane/Corn Plant – (Dracaena massangeana)
    • Warneckii Dracaena – (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’)
    • Also, you may want to consider not having a plant in the bedroom at night because they take in oxygen and put out carbon dioxide. During the day, they put out oxygen and take in the carbon dioxide.
  • Try to have clean surfaces and bedding to prevent dust mites
  • Air purifiers can help.
  • No smoking indoors
  • Remove your shoes when you can.
  • Minimal use of air fresheners and aerosols
  • Don’t close window vents or block up house vents

If people have concerns over their air quality, they should contact their landlord, housing association or other authority if possible.