We’re probably already aware that air pollution can have serious repercussions on human health, but for the most part, research and awareness about air pollution is mostly focused on the quality and condition of air outside our homes and businesses, not inside them.
However, because most of us spend the majority of our time inside, investigating the levels and types of pollution in indoor spaces might have a much bigger effect on us than we might think. To that end, Electrolux has launched a global research initiative to explore what indoor pollution is like in homes around the world, and they’re using one of the most common household tools to do so: the vacuum cleaner.
“Seeing is believing and we aim to turn what’s invisible at home visible. 90% of our time is spent indoors and therefore the ‘invironment’ is just as important to consider as the environment.” – Cecilia Nord, Director within Electrolux Sustainability Affairs
The initiative is called The Invironment Project, and to collect dust from homes, Electrolux used their company’s flagship model, the UltraOne, which is said to capture 99.999% of all the particles it vacuums. Dust from homes in cities with known air pollution issues, such as Singapore, Los Angeles, Seoul, Sao Paulo, Stockholm, and Taipei, has been collected and analyzed by a senior scientist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science, and the findings so far are giving insights into the types of pollutants found in homes, as well as where they originate.
“The result shows that what is outdoor affects what is indoors – 58% of the particle findings originate from outdoor sources. Traffic pollution is for example revealed via traces from car motors lubricants, exhaust residues, and iron and zinc oxide that emerge as cars break. A general conclusion is that the indoor environment is dependent on context, both the immediate surroundings and factors such as proximity to traffic or local climate conditions.
But the most significant finding is perhaps that your indoor environment is greatly affected by… you. Habits, preferences, activities and personal possessions determine the inside of your dust bag. Having a dog equals traces of excrements. Playing tennis equals traces of grass or clay. Level of cleanliness equals the amount of zeolite particles from washing powder. In other words: the dust bag tells the truth about you and your lifestyle.” – Electrolux Invironment Project
Magnified images of the various kinds of particles picked up by the vacuum cleaners for the research (as seen at the top of this post) are available to view on one of Electrolux’ Pinterest boards.
At the Invironment page, Electrolux offers some tips for a healthier indoor environment, including taking off your shoes at the doorway, adding green plants, and making sure you’ve got adequate ventilation in your home.