Your home can influence your health and quality of life. Most of us spend a huge percentage of our lives indoors so it is well worth thinking more closely about the quality of life in our homes. This article discusses the probable sources of indoor air pollutants as well as the potential associated health consequences of undertaking renovations or home extensions. It gives advice and actions that you may take to guard the health of individuals living in your home. It is going to also assist you in making better-informed decisions about health and indoor air quality issues when discussing a new construction renovation or project with your architect, designer, builder or building material supplier.
There is now growing scientific research to prove that our environment affects our physical and mental health in many ways. The relationship between our surroundings and our well-being is important.
For example, it is suggested that looking at a beautiful view results in a rush of endorphins which in turn leads to a feeling of peacefulness and well-being. By paying attention to the place and space around us, we can feel better. Therefore, living in a well-designed and healthy home can do more than improve our mood, it can affect our immune system and physical health as well.
According to a recent survey carried out by Houzz, a well-designed kitchen can transform the way you live and promote a healthier lifestyle. It was found that more people are encouraged to cook and bake at home, with fewer takeaways being ordered in. Not only is this good for physical health but it’s great for mental health too. A well thought out kitchen not only fosters an interest in home cooking but inspires the kids to get involved. This all contributes to more quality, family time.
Not only does living in a cold, damp, badly lit and poorly designed house with a burst pipe or crumbling walls feel depressing, but it can make you less inclined to look after it and invite people around. This lessens opportunities for social interaction, which can lead to further feelings of isolation and depression. Improving your home can influence how you interact with others as well as how you feel individually. A welcoming, well-designed and organised home will encourage you to invite friends over which will enhance the social side of your life.
A properly renovated home, such as one with a house extension will be ‘airtight’. However, it will also be well ventilated. Living in a damp-free, well-ventilated home results in better health all round.
The air inside an older home may be affected by damp, mould and condensation. This is especially true if we block up vents and shut windows to keep draughts at bay. Therefore, moisture-laden air can’t escape, which leads to the formation of damp and mould. If a room is poorly ventilated moisture can easily build up – from showers, kettles, bubbling pots and pans and even our own breath. Damp manifests in wet patches, mould growth and often a musty smell. If left untreated, it can result in the corrosion of internal finishes and cause health problems, especially in very young and elderly people and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma.
In order to achieve optimum health, fresh air should constantly be flowing through your home to replace stale, moisture-laden air. Condensation, which is exacerbated by poor insulation, inferior windows, and inadequate heating, will be a thing of the past if you choose to retrofit your home.
There are health consequences from poor indoor air quality from mild and generally non-specific signs such as headaches, tiredness or lethargy, to more severe effects such as aggravation of asthma and allergic responses. Most of these conditions may also arise in a range of different causes other than the grade of the atmosphere in your house.
Ask your doctor if you are worried about any of these health conditions.
If a source of air pollutants triggers an indoor air quality problem or not depends on:
- The type of air pollutant
- The quantity and rate at which it is released from its origin
- The level of ventilation available in the home to eliminate it from inside.
Common sources of indoor air pollutants include:
- Construction operations and construction materials
- Household products
- Different human indoor activities
- External variables (from outside).
People are most frequently exposed to air pollutants when they breathe within an atmosphere pollutant or allergen; vulnerability by swallowing or through the skin may happen in some circumstances. The body has an array of defences against airborne compounds (e.g. skin, liver, immune system). Some defences keep substances from their body; others conquer substances once they enter the human body.
Four steps to Enhance air quality
- Remove: Identify the source of air problems and where possible eliminate through better product choice and design.
- Ventilate: If only a small amount of fresh air enters a home, pollutants can gather to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Ventilate the home to remove these.
- Separate: Separate problem substances from occupants by using air barriers or sealers such as coatings.
- Absorb: Indoor plants may be used to improve the quality of the indoor environment, in addition to adding beauty.
Questions for a healthful home
If purchasing or moving to an established house, will major renovations be required?
The substances utilized in some previous homes, in addition to the activities related to renovation, can increase the health risks for renovators and anybody else in the home during the job. Assess the risks of moving or putting in structural timber beams and manage them through safe work practices and clean-up.
How efficiently does the property’s design use natural ventilation?
Fantastic design and orientation can encourage breezes and convection currents to draw stale air out and fresher air in. If windows have been shut for safety or noise reasons, install fixed wall vents to make sure there is adequate ventilation. Strike a balance between the need to introduce new air, keep comfortable room temperatures and save energy.
Does the home’s design keep moisture to a minimum?
In brick houses, if a damp-proof course has not yet been fitted or was broken, moisture may migrate out of the floor to the wall. Prolonged periods of humidity can increase the moisture within the environment. Keep away from mould growth by lessening moisture levels in your environment making sure that all the general plumbing is up to standard.
Can dust be easily removed from the rooms?
The visible and invisible dusts in your home are made up of several substances. Even though most of the dust will likely be benign, there may be a little proportion that, if inhaled or swallowed, could trigger a health response. Design and furnish your home with easy to clean and washable surfaces or fabrics.
Are there any carpeted floors?
If new carpeting has adhesives underneath, these can contain VOCs. Underlay may also be a supply. Ask to observe rugs encouraged by producers as ‘low emission’ merchandise. Ensure that your provider unrolls the carpeting in a well-ventilated area and lets it air for several days until it’s delivered and installed. Trapped dust and microbiological pollutants might be a problem if they come from the carpet to the air, or might be an immediate problem for crawling babies and young kids playing on rugs. Consider laminated flooring as it will reduce the amount of dust absorbed in your environment.