Is Your Home Hurting Your Health? The Impact of Greener Living on Your Wellbeing
A shift towards non-toxic, green or more sustainable living has caused many of us to re-evaluate everything from our bath and beauty products to the kinds of cars we drive. But, what about our homes? Could the place we spend so much of our time in be hurting our health? Today, countless Americans live in “unhealthy” homes with no idea how their living environment is affecting them and their families.
What is a healthy home?
At its most basic level, a healthy home is one that is free of toxins, free of safety hazards and energy efficient. Homes that are not dry, well-ventilated or free of pests can cause health issues like asthma, lead poisoning and injuries. Homes that are not properly insulated use excess energy to keep temperatures at comfortable levels, costing homeowners money and negatively impacting the environment.
So, what can you do about your home’s health? Here are a few ways homes are growing greener and healthier today, as well as things you can do right now to improve your home’s healthy score.
New Home Building Trends
Home builders are projecting that by 2020, 60 percent of all homes they build will be green, healthy homes. This includes homes with improved air flow, reduced chemicals, better A/C filters and whole home water treatment systems as an answer to consumers looking for healthy options. With Millennials entering the home buying market in larger quantities in the next few years, these features are likely to become even more in demand.
When it comes to creating a healthy home, interior design features including indoor gardens, metal roofs and efficient kitchens are a few key areas of focus. Many would agree that a healthy home starts in the kitchen. In fact, people that had a kitchen remodel were surveyed and, once their kitchen remodel was completed, over a third of them said they started living a healthier life after their new kitchen. This is because they started cooking more and getting more excited about healthier options, filling their new kitchens with organic foods and produce.
Fannie Mae recently started the Healthy Housing Awards Initiative to provide financial incentives for investors buying homes that include healthy options in multifamily rental properties. These incentives are for better air quality, encouraging physical activity like playgrounds and gardens in the common areas, an attempt to decrease health issues and create more sustainable communities.
HUD also started a healthy home initiative to protect families from health and safety hazards in affordable housing. They are offering grants to organizations that help create healthy living in affordable housing communities.
Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
There are countless harmful toxins hiding in your favorite home cleaning solutions. One of the most basic, yet most important steps you can take in making your home healthier is to switch out your cleaning products for greener options, or even make your own cleaning agents from baking soda and vinegar.
Although about 90 percent of homes in America have safe drinking water, it is always a good idea to get a water purification or filtration system to remove contaminants like lead and radon. The system will also improve the taste of the water, which would promote more consumption. People with low immune systems would greatly benefit from a water filtration system to lower the amount of chemicals they ingest.
Toxic Fire Retardants are a big problem in homes due to many products being treated with these chemicals, including mattresses, furniture and electronics. This fire retardant is a carcinogen and is in the air that we breathe and can be absorbed through our skin. A good air purifier in your home will help to reduce these and similar toxins in your home. You can also choose to replace your mattresses and furniture with organic options.
No step is too small when it comes to making your home greener and safer for you and your family. For a comprehensive list of easy measures you can take to create a healthier home, be sure to read through the Surgeon General’s checklist.