Chaotic traffic in Bangalore with cars, scooters, green electric passenger rickshaws and people.

Breathe in, and breathe out – when does your clean air expire?

Okay, maybe your clean air will not run out today, but air pollution is in fact one of the biggest health risks globally. In recent research IKEA found that the general preconception is that air pollution happens outside, rather than inside. But according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) pollution in some parts of the world is five times higher inside than outside. It’s a big problem but here’s the good news, you can be a part of the solution.

IKEA has have been working to improve air quality in the home and in the outside world for a while now and have made some impactful changes. Through constant material innovation, IKEA has been lowering emissions from products, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain – both in our own operations and together with our suppliers.

In order to contribute to better air in people’s everyday life IKEA needed to gain a better understanding of how people relate to air pollution, as well as their needs and dreams when they think about clean air. This is why we did the Clean Air Survey. In the survey, people were asked about their views on air pollution and then they were given a portable pollution sensor and instructions to bring it with them in their daily lives. All participants were surprised to find how high the pollution levels were in their particular neighbourhood and in their homes.

As an individual, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless by such a huge problem. But in fact, there are many small changes that everyone can make, which can have a real impact on air quality.

Here are 5 changes that you can do yourself in order to contribute to cleaner air and a better world tomorrow.

1. Turn off electrical devices when they’re not being used. Making this switch will save energy and money too.

2. Grow plants at home – certain types can absorb gases such as volatile organic compounds, benzene and formaldehyde. And if you have a garden, plant trees.

3. Unless you live in a much polluted area, air your home by opening windows when the outside air quality is best (often at night).

4. Clean up your energy: consider buying from a renewable source or investing in solar panels.

5. Buy from companies that are reducing chemical use in their products. Formaldehyde can be found in everything from air fresheners, to cleaning products to some wooden furniture and polycotton bed linen.