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Britons Spend 11 Additional Hours Indoors Every Week Compared To Just 5 Years Ago

People in the UK are spending a huge 10 hours 54 minutes more time indoors each week than they did just five years ago, which equates to a staggering 23 additional days each year.

Two-fifths say they spend ‘much more’ time indoors now than back in 2017

Trying to save money, shopping online rather than in person, and having just become used to staying in among the social drivers for people spending more time indoors

 But the data out on Clean Air Day shows, that despite this equating to an additional 23 days indoors each year, more than half very rarely or never consider the indoor air quality where they spend their time

A quarter (24%) even admitted to spending an extra 20 hours or longer inside compared to 2017. Just one in 10 (12%) claim to be outdoors more often in 2022.

Among the key social drivers for this shift are the fact that people are trying to save money so spend more time at home (46%) and that when they do spend money, they are doing so online rather than on foot (42%).

More than 1 in 20 (7%) have even started getting small convenience store items delivered in recent times, according to the research commissioned by ventilation experts, Nuaire.

WFH is also having an effect as a quarter (25%) say a reduction in commuting time means they spend less time outside, as well as holding more meetings virtually (20%).

The figures also found 16% now exercise at home rather than going for a run or bike ride.

Overall, two-fifths (41%) admitted they are now spending “much more” time indoors.

Despite this amounting to an extra 23 days indoors every year, the majority (53%) say they rarely or never consider the quality of the indoor air they breathe.

In fact, despite being central to our wellbeing, the levels of indoor air pollutants can be two to five times more higher than outdoors – with high levels of CO2, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as perfume, carpets, paint fumes and cleaning products.

And the data shows that when it comes to indoor air quality people are not helping matters for themselves:

  • Almost half (45%) use bleach products for cleaning – which can release dangerous chemicals into the air – including VOCs which have a serious direct impact on health (VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, can cause difficulty breathing and nausea, and can damage the central nervous system as well as other organs.)
  • One in 10 (11%) only ventilate their homes by opening all the windows once a year and a similar number (9%) never do
  • Only four in every 10 are aware older vacuums could be linked with poorer indoor air quality
  • Just a third (35%) know that cleaning sprays can have negative effects
  •  Only one in 20 realised that new furniture could be ‘off-gassing’ compounds that have negative effects on our health

Stuart Smith, indoor air quality expert from Nuaire says: “We’re all fairly savvy now when it comes to outdoor air. Most people wouldn’t stand directly behind a car exhaust if they could help it and the levels of pollution across our cities is well publicised. Efforts to combat pollution levels are even fronted by famous faces. But when it comes to indoor air quality there is a huge amount of confusion.

“People wrongly assume that because they are inside, away from traffic, the air is clean and safe but it’s really important that we understand, particularly now we’re seeing people spending so much time indoors, that indoor air is typically around 2-5 times worse than outdoor air. This is due to increased levels of Carbon Dioxide, airborne chemicals in our homes as well as the pollutants from outside.

“The rise of convenience businesses, home-based exercise and WFH routines through lockdown have now become the norm, and this research shows we’re spending half a day more a week inside in 2022 than five years ago. If we could see how polluted our indoor air is we’d act on it immediately, but the issue is it is invisible and therefore an unknown problem.

“At work, we get used to the ‘fuggy’ environments we work in and in terms of ventilation and air movement, we see offices particularly suffer under years of change, from desk moves to changes in set up and design. Each time these changes occur, the indoor air quality suffers as the filtered air inputs aren’t reviewed and positioned in an effective way. If employees are worried they should discuss it with their facilities team. Everyone has a right to clean air, and employers would find a happier, healthier workforce as a result.

“And in your home there are some really simple things you can do to improve your indoor air quality from upgrading your sofa to opening windows more frequently.”

Tips for improving air quality at home:

  • Refresh the air – getting fresh air in is key. As often as possible, open all your windows for as long as is reasonable and let fresh air replace any CO2 build up that’s been circulating in your home. This will also reduce humidity that leads to condensation and mold. If you live on a main road however, try to do this when traffic is low and avoid rush hour.
  • Careful what you clean with – since the start of the pandemic, our usage of chemical-based cleaning products has increased by 45%. Bleach and cleaning sprays can hang in the air and give off toxic chemicals, which are really bad for our respiratory health. Switch to organic where you can and avoid candles which can give off high levels of particulate matter.
  • Check your vacuum – older vacuum cleaners and those that aren’t certified as HEPA may actually be responsible for spraying dust particles into the air, rather than keeping them contained.
  • Beware of dust build up – dust mites live in the dust in your home and are one of the most common allergens. Refresh bedding frequently and maintain a clean, healthy home to keep them at bay.
  • Out with the old – modern regulations in furniture manufacturing mean that newly produced furniture gives off less VOCs than older hand-me-downs. If thinking of upgrading and decorating at the same time, do your research into paints and carpets too as some can give off dangerous chemicals and fumes once in the home.
  • Turn on your extract fans – it’s easy to forget to turn on the extract fan when cooking and bathing but these really help pull nasties out of the air in kitchens and bathrooms. Just be sure to check and clean the filters regularly – once a year should keep them in good working order.
  • Invest in carbon guzzling plants – house plants like aloe vera, peace lilies, corn plants and ferns have been proven to reduce NO2 and CO2 in rooms by up to 20%.
  •  Invest in home ventilation – mechanical ventilation and carbon filtration systems can be installed to treat the air throughout the home, and control the pollutants generated. These can cost the same as a premium air purifier but work to clean and filter the air throughout the entire house creating a safe haven for all inhabitants.