Indoor air pollution as harmful as car fumes, study finds

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The shampoo, deodorants, air fresheners, cleaning products and even perfumes in our homes could be creating as much air pollution as the transportation sector, a new study finds.

Conventional wisdom maintains that outside air pollution from cars, industry and public transport are the main sources of air pollution. While this was true in previous decades, today particle-forming emissions from chemical products are about twice as high as those from transportation. According to this new study, as cars get cleaner, VOCs come increasingly from consumer products.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) atmospheric scientist Jessica Gilman, a co-author of the new paper, attributes this disparity partially to differences in how we store those products versus fuels. “Gasoline is stored in closed, hopefully airtight, containers and the VOCs in gasoline are burned for energy,” she said. “But volatile chemical products used in common solvents and personal care products are literally designed to evaporate. You wear perfume or use scented products so that you or your neighbor can enjoy the aroma. You don’t do this with gasoline,” Gilman said.

What are volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are any chemical compound that evaporates into the atmosphere at room temperature, potentially causing health effects within the environment.

Many VOC concentrations are up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors. They are emitted by a wide array of products, including paints, varnishes and wax, as well as many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. It is thought around 350 different types of VOCs exist in our indoor environment.

What effects can VOCs have?

VOCs can react with the atmosphere to produce either ozone or particulate matter—both of which are regulated in many countries due to the potential health impacts, including lung damage.

There’s a wide range of long- and short-term health effects associated with exposure to VOCs, including eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, and some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

How can you reduce VOCs in your home?

Store paint, paint thinners, pesticides, particle board, fuel, cleaners, and similar materials in a detached shed or garage to protect your family from VOCs.

Let fresh air in by opening a window, or using exhaust fans in the kitchen or bathroom.

Decorating with houseplants is an easy, inexpensive way to absorb VOCs and other toxins. Some of the best plants for cleaning your air are aloe, spider plants, chrysanthemums, Chinese evergreens, and peace lilies.

Cleaning regularly can reduce VOCs already in your home, and can be done without introducing new VOCs. Use lemon juice and olive oil as a healthy wood polish, or a few drops of tea tree oil mixed with water to prevent mildew in your bathroom.

Dig into DIY deodorisers. Herbs and flowers can make a lovely potpourri, and simmering cinnamon sticks, orange slices, cloves, or other spices on the stove will produce a welcoming aroma. Natural essential oils are also popular as air fresheners.

Read about the study here. You can also learn more about making your own products with essential oils at our 2018 Training Congress, where Penny Price will be running a session entitled Making Aromatherapy Skincare Products. Find out more on our website.

 

 

The FHT guides Guardian readers on improving their lives in the New Year

Recently, the FHT contributed to the Guardian’s ‘New Year, New You’ supplement. It contained advice on de-stressing, self-care, and mindfulness.

The Guardian - New Year, New You supplement

It is our mission to make the public more aware of the FHT and its members. Our coverage also highlighted the importance of the FHT’s Accredited Register, independently approved by the Professional Standards Authority, and directs readers to search for an FHT member at fht.org.uk/findatherapist

Music can help clients change their tune

piano-instrument-music-keys-159420In our last issue of International Therapist, our regular case study feature came from Nicolle Mitchell, who discussed her treatment of a client living with dementia. We documented her treatment plan and approach, as well as the client’s history.

We’ve now received an update via Facebook from Nicolle, which touches on other aspects of her client’s treatment. She writes:

This gentleman, is a lover of jazz & musician. He is usually very vocal & often does not know when he is being vocal which I interpret as frustration, distress and having unmet needs. He cannot walk or see. Within minutes he had quietened and started to pick out rhythms with his fingers. I quietly watched & delighted in his joy & engagement.

We’ve also looked at other benefits music can confer. In our latest issue of International Therapist, we hear from Dr Stella Compton Dickinson about ways that music can improve wellbeing.

You can read Nicolle’s original case study here. Her update on Facebook is here. And our latest article, on the benefits of music, is here.

We also love hearing from our members about their work. If you have a similar case study you’d like to submit, contact our deputy editor, Dan Ralls, at dralls@fht.org.uk.

Want to receive our magazine right to your front door? Join us today to keep up to date on the latest in therapy news and trends.

Just 1 in 20 Britons drink recommended water amounts on hot holidays

New research looking into the holiday behaviour of Britons when abroad by an online travel agency in the UK has revealed that just 1 in 10 Britons drink the recommended amount of water during a hot break overseas; with the majority incorrectly assuming that caffeinated fizzy drinks or alcohol keep them well hydrated.

A new study by an online travel agency in the UK has revealed that Britons may not be drinking enough water whilst on a hot holiday abroad, despite risks of dehydration and sun stroke on these types of holidays.

www.sunshine.co.uk conducted the poll as part of ongoing research into the behaviour of Britons whilst on holiday overseas. 1,672 UK adults took part in the poll and all respondents had been on a hot holiday overseas in the last 12 months. Those taking part were asked to answer questions about their eating and drinking habits on holiday.

With the general recommendation being to drink 8 glasses of water per day (around 1.9litres) in normal circumstances, but more usually required in a hot environment, respondents were asked to estimate how much water they drank per day on their last holiday abroad. The average answer stated by those taking part was ‘1 litre’ (52%).

Just 9% of those taking part, almost 1 in 10, claimed that they drank the recommended 8 glasses of water or more per day on their last holiday abroad. Anyone that didn’t drink the recommended amount was asked why they didn’t, to which the most common answers were as follows:

  • Drank caffeinated fizzy drinks to keep hydrated – 27%
  • Drank alcohol to keep hydrated – 22%
  • Forgot – 19%
  • Didn’t feel like I needed it – 15%
  • Couldn’t afford to keep buying it – 9%

All respondents that didn’t drink the recommended amount of water on holiday were asked if they thought they had suffered as a result, to which 48% admitted that they had subsequently ‘felt ill’.

Chris Clarkson, Managing Director of sunshine.co.uk, said the following:

“The 8 glasses of water rule is just a rough guideline for everyday life, but people need to remember that the hot weather on holiday can make you sweat more and therefore make you more dehydrated. As a result, a higher water intake is needed and with alcohol and caffeinated drinks being well known diuretics, they just won’t do the same job as water when it comes to hydration.

“I’d hate to think of anyone ruining their holiday just by not drinking enough water. It’s common sense to have a bottle of water on you at all times when holidaying in a hot country, but just remember that mineral water is the way forward in most places, so don’t always go drinking from the tap!”

Image: iStockphoto

Natural England’s report highlights equal access to the natural environment

A new report published by Natural England looks at how five different social groups engage with the natural environment in England, including people living in urban deprived areas; the elderly (65+); those with physical disabilities or mental health illness; and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic [BAME] communities.

Natural England is committed to increasing the number and range of people who can experience and benefit from the natural environment. Through their ‘Outdoors for All’ programme, they are leading the Government’s ambition that ‘everyone should have fair access to a good quality natural environment’.

Read more here.

Image: 123RF