How healthy is your home? “Studies have shown that the indoor environment can be up to ten times more polluted than the external environment”, Roger Hunt, co-author of Old House Eco Handbook tells us. “As we make our homes more airtight to increase their energy efficiancy, there’s a very real danger that we will exacerbate this problem and make them unhealthy due to dampness and poor air quality. Symptoms amongst occupants can include headaches, nausea, fatigue, and skin, eye, nose and throat irritation.”
But our homes aren’t just polluted – they are often toxic, too, thanks to the chemicals used to make the furniture we sit and sleep on – and the products we use to clean our houses. Don’t panic. There is a lot that can be done to make our home environment healthier…
“A key problem is the lack of controlled ventilation to remove moisture from the air and maintain the equilibrium of the building”, Roger continues. “Without ventilation, condensation and mold growth is likely to occur which is often wrongly attribute to rising damp and other problems. The simplest form of ventilation is to open a window when you’re having a shower, doing cooking or drying clothes, all of which create water vapour. But this only works on a fine, dry day when there is less moisture outside than inside. This is why Building Regulations require mechanical ventilation, often in the form of a wall or ceiling mounted extractor fan, to draw the moisture out.”
The next step is to reduce our exposure to different toxins inside. “When it comes to decorating, the need for environmentally sensitive optins has never been greater”, explains Edward Bulmer of non-toxic paint company Pots of Paint. “Against a background of the rising incidence of unexplained allergies and chronic diseases, passive paint inhalation of synthetic and petrochemical-based products such as household paints is increasingly looking like a major culprit.” It’s not just about paint, of course. The furniture, soft furnishings and even cleaning products you choose in your home can have an effect on your – and your family’s – health.
We live in a modern world and we’re never going to remove ourselves completely from chemicals and pollution. So it’s important to take it one step at a time. Think about the changes you can make in your home now. Bigger projects will take longer, but don’t stress out as this can be just as bad for your health. By taking the first steps, you’re moving in the right direction, and that’s what matters.
Read more about home improvements: