- Americans suffer from illnesses costing billions yearly; home environment modifications can help prevent many cases.
- Indoor air quality, lighting, flooring, wall coverings, and furniture contribute significantly to home-based illnesses.
- Improving ventilation, using natural materials, and reducing exposure to blue light can enhance health and well-being.
- Regular cleaning, choosing hardwood over carpeting, avoiding VOC paints, and opting for natural furniture reduce health risks.
- Exercise spaces, indoor plants, and natural cleaning products improve health and transform homes into wellness sanctuaries.
Your home is supposed to be a place of comfort and safety where you can relax and rejuvenate yourself. However, certain design elements in your home might do just the opposite. From poor ventilation to toxic materials, there are multiple ways in which your home design can negatively impact your health. Here’s what you need to know about getting sick, why your home contributes to it, and the proactive ways you can deal with it.
Getting Sick in The U.S.
It’s estimated that Americans get sick three times on average . This translates to more than 200 million sick days yearly, costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars in lost productivity and medical expenses. While some illnesses are inevitable, many others can be avoided by making simple changes in your environment.
Reasons Your Home May Be Making You Sick
There are various ways in which your home could be making you sick. Here are some of them:
1. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Poor indoor air quality can lead to various health problems , such as asthma, allergies, and respiratory ailments. IAQ is directly linked to ventilation and using synthetic materials in the home. One way to improve IAQ is to increase ventilation, i.e., opening windows and doors, using exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen, and regularly cleaning air filters and ducts. Additionally, avoid using synthetic materials, paints, and cleaning products as they release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Opt for natural materials and use air purifiers as needed.
The type of lighting in your home can also affect your health. Studies have found that exposure to blue light (emitted by smartphones, computers, and LED light bulbs) interferes with melatonin production, disrupting sleep and causing eye strain . To mitigate this, use warm lighting, dimmer switches, and eliminate blue light sources before bedtime. Additionally, incorporate natural light into your home design by installing skylights, larger windows, or an atrium.
Flooring is an often overlooked aspect of home design that can impact your health. Carpets, in particular, can harbor dust mites, mold, and bacteria, worsening asthma and allergies . Hardwood, cork, or bamboo floors are a better alternative to reduce exposure to these allergens. Additionally, avoid vinyl flooring as it is made from synthetic materials that release toxic compounds. Instead, opt for materials like tile, natural stone, or linoleum.
4. Paint and Wallpapers
The paint and wallpapers in your home can also negatively impact your health. VOCs in most paints can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea. To mitigate this, opt for zero-VOC or low-VOC paints and always check the label for certification before purchasing. Avoid vinyl or PVC-based options for wallpapers as they release toxic dioxins and phthalates. Instead, use natural materials such as plant fibers instead of paper or fabric-based wallpapers.
The choice of furniture can also impact your health. Furniture made from synthetic materials (such as polyester, nylon, or polyurethane foam) can release toxic chemicals into the air. Opt for natural materials such as wood or fibers like cotton, wool, or jute to reduce exposure to these chemicals. Additionally, avoid flame retardant-treated furniture as they contain PBDEs that are carcinogenic.
Ways to Stay Healthy at Home
While there are many ways in which your home could make you sick, you can also take proactive measures to stay healthy at home. Some of these include:
Your home must provide a space for exercise, as physical activity can boost your immune system and reduce the risk of getting sick. Consider creating a workout area or using open spaces in your home for yoga, stretching, or other exercises. Better yet, consider getting a swimming pool.
Swimming can provide numerous benefits, including improved cardiovascular health and reduced stress levels. It can also be a fun way to stay active and fit. Contact a local swimming pool builder and install one in your backyard to enjoy the convenience and health benefits of swimming at home.
Incorporating plants in your home can improve indoor air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen, and filtering out toxins. Some recommended plants for this purpose are aloe vera, spider, peace lily, and snake. Additionally, plants can also reduce stress levels and improve mental health.
Natural Cleaning Products
As mentioned earlier, natural cleaning products are crucial for maintaining good IAQ. These products are non-toxic and gentle on your health and the environment. You can make your own using ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils or purchase them from eco-friendly brands.
Your home has a significant impact on your health. Being aware of potential hazards and making proactive changes can create a healthier living space for yourself and your family. Remember to prioritize natural materials, good ventilation, and regular cleaning to keep your home safe and healthy. So, take these precautions while designing or renovating your home for a happy and healthy life!