Tis the season to be… Sneezing: 4 ways winter air quality impacts your health

Tis the season to be… Sneezing: 4 ways winter air quality impacts your health
Solenco Low Energy Dehumidifier

A change of season can bring on allergies with all their associated uncomfortable and difficult-to-manage symptoms. As we enter autumn and head towards winter, no matter where you are in South Africa, the seasonal flu is looming, and conditions are becoming either dryer or rainier, as well as cooler. According to Trevor Brewer, Managing Director of Air Treatment Specialists, Solenco, the resulting asthma, allergies and other health issues caused by the quality of air you breathe can significantly impact your ability to function from day-to-day.

Brewer outlines 4 ways the change of season and accompanying air quality impacts your health:

1.Dry air

In Gauteng specifically, the dry air that comes with the move into autumn and winter is a particular bug bear. Not only does your skin barrier suffer, but so do your airways. “For people with respiratory or lung issues such as asthma and bronchitis, cold and dry air narrows airways and makes it harder to breathe. For those without respiratory challenges, dry air can also cause pain and inflammation in the throat, especially while you sleep,” says Brewer.

A humidifier is one of the best solutions to keeping your indoor air at optimal moisture levels, to

improve your comfort and your health this flu season. They’re also effective at opening up your airways and helping decongest blocked or stuffy noses. Brewer recommends an Evaporative (mist-free) Humidifier with an antibacterial filter that prevents the distribution and inhalation of any bacteria lurking in untreated water.  “Look for a humidifier with auto function to keep humidity levels optimal with no effort at all.”

2. Excess moisture

In areas that see winter rainfall like the Western Cape, excess moisture can cause sinus

congestion and sneezing. “Too much moisture also increases the likelihood of mould, which can wreak havoc on your respiratory system and bring about allergic symptoms,” says Brewer.

“A dehumidifier not only prevents damp and mould (and the smell that comes with it), but

effectively removes water vapour that tends to gather in cooler months when you are heating

your home, or drying your laundry indoors with the windows and doors shut. “

3.Poor ventilation

The approaching winter probably means that you’re spending more time indoors. More time in

doors, and less ventilation, means more dust, more pet dander and more bacteria with nowhere

to escape.  Enter the spread of the winter sniffs!

With loadshedding and the rising cost of electricity in South Africa, trapping heat in our homes in the colder months is an important aspect of our day to day lives, but Brewer says this is often to the

detriment of our health. “Energy and inverter friendly air purifiers are a great way to keep excess dust and pet dander at bay, and destroy bacteria and airborne viruses that may be lurking.”

4.Indoor air pollution

It’s common knowledge that air pollution in South Africa has reached dangerously high levels,

but most people don’t realise that the concentration of pollutants and toxins found in the air is

sometimes 2 to 5 times higher indoors according to the World Health Organisation.

There are many everyday objects and products that we have in our homes that can be the cause of indoor air pollution. Stoves, space heaters and fireplaces all put out carbon monoxide as well as nitrogen dioxide in the air. Seemingly harmless household furniture, rugs and products such as varnishes, paints, aerosol sprays and some cleaning products can also contain harmful VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). VOCs include a variety of chemicals released in the form of gases, which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects from eye, nose or throat irritation, to headaches, and longer-term damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system.

“Add the impact of compounding levels of VOC’s to poor ventilation during the winter season and you have a serious health hazard on your hands,” says Brewer. “Individuals should be looking to solutions such as low energy electric heaters to minimise carbon monoxide risks, and air purifiers that use filtration mechanisms to remove toxins from the air.” When air enters a system using HEPA technology, it passes through a HEPA filter, which removes harmful particulates. HEPA filters can filter out 99.98% of all particles in the air that are 0.03 microns in size or greater.

You could stock up on medicine to deal with the symptoms that come with seasonal changes – but not all of these health risks are irreversible, so instead of spending money on treatments and medicine down the line, put measures in place now to prevent these adverse effects by investing in technology that helps protect the air you breathe this winter season.