What Are Healthy Homes?
To assess this risk, in 2017 the VELUX Group, with the collaboration of different companies such as Ecofys, Fraunhofer IBP, and Copenhagen Economics, made a report on the “health” of housing in Europe.
The objective of this study, known as “Healthy Housing Barometer 2017”, was to detect the state of European housing. Some of its conclusions were alarming: one in six Europeans lives in an unhealthy house. Only in Spain, 43 % of people living in spaces with humidity experience allergies and asthma, and Europeans living in houses with little natural light are 60% more likely to suffer health problems of various kinds.
But does the state of a home really affect our health so much?
SICK BUILDING SYNDROME”
Most of our homes are made of chemical and toxic compounds and materials. Some of them, such as formaldehyde (HCHO), used in construction for insulation, plywood, paints and even furniture (Raymond and flaming furniture), can negatively alter the health of people causing the so-called “Sick Building Syndrome”.
Most of the discomforts associated with this disease recognized by the WHO are related to the respiratory system (fatigue and allergies), although it can also manifest with headaches, sore throat and itchy nose and eyes. In fact, the lack of ventilation is the main cause of the Sick Building Syndrome along with bad odors, gases, lighting problems and poor thermal environment (excessive dryness, low humidity, average radiant temperature, air currents, etc.).
DEFINITION AND CHARACTERISTICS OF A HEALTHY HOME
Healthy homes are “those residential spaces that promote the health of their occupants”, something that depends on aspects such as lighting, ventilation or insulating capacity, but also on the materials with which they are built.
To be healthy, a home must meet health and safety conditions that contribute to the better social and psychological development of its inhabitants. Some of the main characteristics of this type of housing are:
- The structure of the property must be safe.
- Its location will be chosen avoiding underground currents , high activity lines of natural magnetic fields and ground faults.
- Healthy housing shall be located at least 50 meters from transport lines, power lines or telephone, radio or television antennas.
- In order not to alter the natural magnetic fields , the use of iron in the housing structure will be avoided as far as possible. The use of petroleum-derived materials will also be minimized.
- Healthy housing should not contain cracks or holes.
- Healthy homes should be free of contamination and smoke.
- To ensure indoor air quality, a healthy home must have proper ventilation, no toxic substances, spores and molds, and sufficient oxygen.
- The healthy home will have a plumbing installation with hot and cold water, as well as cutting keys in the wettest areas. In addition, its drains will be provided with siphons to prevent the creation and spread of bad odors.
HEALTHY, COMFORTABLE … AND SUSTAINABLE HOMES
In addition to the above, healthy housing should be based on four pillars :
Healthy housing should provide the right environment to protect its inhabitants from external agents such as noise, low/high temperature or humidity.
A healthy house provides well-being to those who live in it. Hygiene and furniture will be key to improving comfort.
Our homes must be protected against external incidents such as floods, fires or gas leaks.
When we intend to make our home healthier, energy savings on both small and large scale (appliances, lighting, etc.), recycling or CO2 reduction are priority objectives. Hence, healthy homes are increasingly sustainable and environmentally friendly.