As the EU has elected 2013 to be the Year of Air a study reveals that Finland ranks among the countries with the best indoor air quality.

WE spend 90 per cent of our time indoors and that is where we breathe the most polluted elements that may threaten our health. According to the recent IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) study, financed by the European Union, 3 per cent of all diseases in Europe are related to indoor pollution.

“To pose a risk for the health are fine particles, mold, mites, bacteria, carbon monoxide and volatile organics compounds,” explains Paolo Carrer, one of the authors of the analysis, from Milan’s Luigi Sacco Hospital. “Cardiovascular diseases, asthma, allergies, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and carbon monoxide intoxication are the most common pollution-related health problems,” he continues.

The study, which analysed all EU-member states, sees Sweden, Finland, United Kingdom and France at the top – with the best indoor air quality – while Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary rank at the bottom. The importance of indoor air quality was already addressed in a 2011 World Health Organisation report, which stated that 12-15 per cent of asthma cases in Europe are related to mould and indoor humidity. “To avoid mould and mites, humidity should not be more than 40-50 per cent,” Carrer states. “Plants contribute to clean the air as well, in particular aloe (aaloet), chrysanthemum (krysanteemit), gerbera, lilium (liljat), sansevieria (anopinkielet) and ficus (viikunat).”

Yannick Ilunga