It seems hardly a day goes by without another story of doom and gloom related to outdoor air pollution in China.
But what about the indoor air quality here? While there is more awareness of the dangers of outdoor air pollution among expats, many are still unaware of the dangers lingering in the air inside their homes.
In this article we look at some indoor air quality (IAQ) issues in China, and what steps you can take to improve your home environment.
At the bottom of this article we have a list of suppliers of natural cleaning and beauty products which can help you maintain healthy indoor air in China.
Detox programs are becoming popular everywhere, with new juice cleansing suppliers popping up regularly in China.
Many expats might be interested to try a detox program to cleanse the toxins we consume through food in China. But what about the toxins that enter our system through the air?
Studies in recent years have shown that many mass-market body-care and cleaning agents contain toxins that can cause various diseases and health issues.
The high rate of Chinese women contracting lung cancer has also been shown to be connected to poor indoor air quality (IAQ) in China; due to reasons including gas cooking, second-hand smoke, and poor ventilation.
In today's fast-paced world, consumers demand efficiency, with the cleaning industry competing fiercely to meet these needs. This drive to create swifter-acting products, however, has not been without consequence.
Seemingly innocuous household cleaning products often contain synthetic chemicals and artificial fragrances, which emit an array of harmful toxins into the air we breathe at home.
In recent years various environmental and public health organizations have uncovered startling facts surrounding the adverse effects of household cleaning products.
Over a 15-year study, the Toronto Indoor Air Quality Conference concluded women who work in the home have a 54 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than women who work outside of the home, because of their increased exposure to household chemicals.
Along with relocation and the culture shock that comes with it, most new expats in Shanghai spend more time indoors than before.
Many expat spouses might have had jobs back home, but give up work to relocate to China with their families. This means they spend much more time inside their homes in China than they did in their native country. This can lead to higher exposure to toxins from cleaning agents that are used in the home.
Phthalates and BPA are common ingredients in cleaning and personal care products. A study conducted by Biological Psychiatry uncovered a positive correlation between Phthalates and ADD/ADHD symptoms.
Currently, standards for cleaning products in China are lower than in many Western countries, so the impact can be even more hazardous to the health of expats.
Fortunately, Chinese authorities are discussing stricter standards which are expected out in the next few years.
Concentrations of the PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) pollutant are usually lower indoors than outdoors in China, but this does not mean indoor air quality is less hazardous than outdoor air quality.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the concentrations of some of the other key air pollutants are typically 2-5 times higher in indoor air than outdoor air in Western countries. Unlike PM2.5 which mostly comes from outside the home, these other pollutants are emitted from products inside the home. So expats in China should be aware of this danger, especially when they keep their windows closed during bad air days.
Off-gassing from interior decoration, building materials and furniture can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which, if not ventilated properly, can build up. So shutting windows to keep out outdoor air pollution might be causing new air quality issues inside your home.
Installing air purifiers can certainly help to clean your indoor air, but making sure to remove the creators of air toxins is just as important.
Tips for improving your indoor air quality in China: