In the commercial building world there has been much research and knowledge developed on the effect of sustainable buildings and good indoor air quality on the health of the occupants. Benefits such as improved employee health (less sick leave), higher productivity levels and reduced absenteeism have been measured and are now accepted as a key ingredient to efficient business operations. It makes sense then that if we made our homes more efficient and provided good indoor air quality, health benefits could also be achieved in the place we spend a significant amount of our time.

Workplaces lead, homes follow

It’s interesting to note that whilst there is much information ‘out there’, its availability and what it actually means for the householder, has gone mostly unrecognised. As was discovered in our work places, our homes could also unwittingly be a source of ill health, particularly in relation to respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies, for our families. When we build and furnish our homes with products that contain chemicals, many of which have not been tested for human health impact, we should be concerned. Yet this is what is happening, don’t assume that just because it’s available to buy it is safe to use. Whether painting walls, buying a new mattress or preparing a room for a new baby, chemicals in products we buy could be off gassing in your home, polluting your indoor air and potentially making you sick. Wouldn’t you want to know if that was happening? Wouldn’t you want to know how to minimise exposure? And wouldn’t you want to have a safe and healthy home for yourself and your family?

It’s because of this lack of awareness and knowledge that Melissa Wittig of Healthy Interiors and I have collaborated to create a resource called ‘The Smart Living Handbook’. This book provides a wealth of information on the types of issues you could find in a home, the health impact they could have on families and what can be done about it. It links the fabric of the home with efficiencies and health aspects to provide an easy to use guide on creating a healthy, sustainable home environment.

Minimising chemical exposure

The book explores strategies that can assist to create a home that is functional, efficient and supportive of good health. It contains information on the chemicals to watch out for and ideas on how to minimise exposure to indoor pollutants that have been linked to a range of health concerns including asthma and allergies, reproductive health, childhood development and cancers.   It also provides industry insights on how to navigate products and decisions in the home, advises what to look for, and what questions to ask.

All too often the development of a home is based on an aesthetic approach without conscious thought to materials, efficiency, environmental impacts and the health implications on our families.   And whilst it is important to acknowledge that we cannot do everything or avoid chemicals or pollutants in our day to day lives, we can make the choice to become educated and reduce them in and around our homes. The Smart Living Handbook is the tool to develop that knowledge.

You can find out more on the Healthy Interiors Smart Living Handbook page.

Danielle King is Founder and Director of Green Moves Australia which provides a range of services aimed at improving the sustainability and liveability of both commercial and residential buildings.

Main image: Jeremy Levine via flickr


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