The main sign your home is killing you
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19.08.2017

The main sign your home is killing you

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Air pollution is killing 40,000 people a year in the UK, a leading expert has warned.

Poor air quality can be lethal for anyone with heart disease and exacerbates breathing problems.

Pollution is now such a major problem that MPs have declared it a “public health emergency”.
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Professor Hugh Coe from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at The University of Manchester, advises: “To minimise the effects of pollution we need to decrease the levels of pollution in our towns and cities and also reduce our exposure to the pollution.”

But that might be easier said than done as there is growing evidence that the air quality inside our homes, workplaces and public buildings is a threat too

Last year the Royal College of Physicians raised the alarm and warned: “We must strengthen our understanding of the relationship between indoor air pollution and health.”
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Professor Tim Sharpe of the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit explains: “Modern homes are increasingly airtight and can also contain a great number of pollutants and chemicals, many of which can have serious health effects. Buildings are simply not well ventilated and this could seriously impact on occupants’ health, especially vulnerable people such as those with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma.”

The number of people diagnosed with COPD — the umbrella term for bronchitis, emphysema and other breathing issues — has increased by 27 per cent in the past decade and it is predicted it will become the third most common cause of death worldwide by 2030. Asthma is also on the rise.

Eight million people have been diagnosed and the British Lung Foundation estimates one in five households now includes someone with the condition.
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The UK also has some of the highest children’s asthma rates in the world. Central heating, cooking on gas, drying laundry inside, pets, the fashion for solid fuel stoves, chemicals used in household cleaners and the flame retardants used in furnishings are just a few of the factors which are undermining our indoor air quality.

Condensation is commonplace, with studies suggesting anywhere between 17 and 46 per cent of houses in Britain have signs of damp and mould

Moisture encourages the growth of irritant mould and fungal spores and creates the ideal environment for house-dust mites which are a key culprit in asthma and COPD exacerbations.
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Warmth, moisture and lack of ventilation also make it easier for bacteria and viruses to spread.

Professor Louis-Jean Couderc, a respiratory specialist based at the Foch Hospital in Paris, says: “Infectious agents play a key role in asthma, in combination with environmental factors and allergies. These three mechanisms exacerbate one another.

“Getting rid of airborne allergens and improving indoor air quality are therefore the first stages in treating respiratory allergies,” he adds, while the French journal General Medicine came to the same conclusion.
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Good ventilation is important but it is not always practical to throw open the windows when it’s noisy or cold outside or the benefits of a breeze could be outweighed by assaults from other allergens such as pollen and traffic pollution.

And ventilation alone will not eliminate infectious agents such as house-dust mites, fungal spores, bacteria and viruses.

In the past, people burnt aromatic oils to protect them from disease and it is claimed “Ring a Ring o’ Roses, a pocketful of posies,” refers to the ring-shaped boils of the plague and sweet-smelling posies people carried in the hope they would be spared.
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Now it seems there may be more to some scents than we realised.

Many essential oils have proven antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties and when we inhale their sweet scents we are breathing in molecules laden with these potent plant chemicals.

Scents can activate receptor cells in the nose which then signal our brain to release neuro-messengers linked to our immune response and other body systems.
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Many essential oils also have a chemical structure, similar to hormones which makes them uniquely useful against respiratory symptoms as they modulate our response to triggers such as allergens and bacteria.

Dr Chris Etheridge, a medical herbalist, says: “We know these oils contain powerful compounds which have identifiable modes of action and a wide range of beneficial properties.”
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Eucalyptus for example, is an antimicrobial which works against both viruses and bacteria, even resistant ones such as MRSA, as well as fungi, including candida.

However it also boosts our immune response by stimulating monocytes and macrophages, white blood cells which literally eat up bacteria.

Thyme contains plant chemicals which inhibit pleurisy and can damage the cell wall of bacteria or pass through the outer membrane of bacteria and attack from within.
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Mint comes in many forms which have proven anti-inflammatory and decongestant activity.

A study in athletes showed ingesting just 0.05ml of peppermint essential oil for 10 days improved lung function.

Trials in patients with a history of respiratory problems show that a spray which combines 41 essential oils led to significant improvements in lung function in just four weeks.
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Bedding and carpets in the volunteers’ homes were infested with house-dust mites before the Puressentiel Purifying Air Spray was applied to each corner of the room and above the sheets and pillow.

This was repeated twice daily and after four weeks, three quarters of the volunteers showed significant improvements in two key measures of lung function — forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume.

Laboratory tests confirm that the spray kills house-dust mites in less than an hour and has a repellency rate of 97 per cent seven days after spraying.
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Similarly when fungal spores were exposed to the spray for just five minutes the reduction in viable spores was the equivalent of 99.99 per cent clearance.

Tests against eight different bacteria, including MRSA and streptococcus, showed the spray inhibited bacterial growth more effectively than a prescription antibiotic.

Researchers concluded: “When faced with an indoor environment with multiple pathogens, particularly strains associated with respiratory infections, an essential oil mixture with broad spectrum antibacterial properties is an undeniable asset.”
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And Professor Couderc, who has reviewed the evidence at the Foch Hospital, concludes: “The anti-infectious effects of Puressentiel Purifying Spray constitute a valuable adjunct in patients with chronic respiratory diseases.”
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