As we spend more time at home, not only for relaxing, but for working and studying, we need to make sure our space is comfortable and healthy to live and work in.
From a design orientated view on natural light and good ventilation, to the use of healthy and recyclable materials, improving our well-being and a healthy environment, should be a must during this time.
We talked to Dr Antje van Dorssen to tell us more about how our home conditions can cause different health problems, and how we can prevent them.
Healthy home, healthy life
Working from home definitely has its benefits – no traffic on your commute, increased productivity, not having to put on actual work clothes, etc. But now that your home has become the office, you need to rethink your space, by making safe and smart use of your environment at home.
What do we need to look out for?
Sick Building Syndrome is increasingly becoming a major occupational hazard and it presents with an array of acute symptoms (when no other cause can be identified), that rapidly improve once the work environment improves.
Here are a few things you should look out:
- Air Quality: poor air quality can lead to exacerbation of existing lung conditions (like asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema and sinusitis) and can lead to allergic reactions to dust, mould and microorganisms that are either circulated through your air conditioner or from outside pollutants.
- Ventilation: we tend to keep our windows shut in winter, however not allowing fresh air circulation, will keep the indoor pollutants inside our house:
- On of these pollutants is dust, which is a regular culprit in allergic airways condition. Good and hygienic cleaning habits with good ventilation will eliminate these allergens from your house.
- Another one is the fireplace smoke, which can be harmful due to direct or secondary inhalation, and to thermal injury. It also exacerbates chronic conditions.
- Air conditioner: clean and fresh air is the best way to improve and keep your respiratory system healthy. The air conditioner is a wonderful place for mould, dust and microorganism to collect and increase, before circulating it through your whole house.
- Studies have shown that keeping the air temperature between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius, will improve productivity in the workplace.
- The circadian rhythm is a biological rhythm that regulates the behaviour and physiology of all living things, over a 24 hour period. Circadian clocks are the timekeeping mechanisms that drive these rhythms, and are regulated by light and darkness, eating habits, sleep and other external inputs. New studies suggest that a disruption of these rhythms can enhance the severity of allergic reactions, it decreases the workings of your immune system and can lead to poor quality of sleep. This in turn leads to daytime fatigue, decrease in productivity and an increase in sick days.
- A lack of natural and bright light can also cause seasonal affective disorder.
Consider getting a dedicated space in your home that you use as your office and take regular breaks. Kit out this space with a good chair and desk, and make sure you have good, bright lighting. Make time during the day to exercise and stretch.
Because of the ease at which you can access the fridge when your office is also your home, an unhealthy diet can lead to malnourishment and other diseases of lifestyle like insulin resistance, diabetes and hypertension. All of these have been linked to a multitude of complications causing significant morbidity, increased hospital visits due to a poor immune system or complications of the diseases, chronic medication use and mortality.
Increased screen time and blue light from increased screen time, inhibits melatonin release causing sleep disturbances and a dysregulated circadian rhythm.
Try to limit your work hours to the amount you would do if you were to work at the office. Get up, get dressed and keep to your schedule.
How CITRA builds healthy home?
The CITRA building system consists of expanded polystyrene panels connected by an armour of MgO boards assembled between glass fibre mesh and reinforced plaster. It has great design possibilities and is fully compatible with all standard building elements.
But most importantly, our system also focuses on healthy living: by building acoustic and thermal insulated homes with a seamless structure. Keep reading to find out more how CITRA contributes to healthy living conditions.
Indoor Air Quality & Comfort
Comfort, both thermal and acoustic, is an essential component for the quality of this air. CITRA system helps maintain a stable air temperature, providing thermal comfort, and can also act as acoustic insulation, preventing its transmission through the walls, both indoors and outdoors.
The Home Lung guidelines of the American Lung Association (ALA) are among the strictest in the world regarding indoor air quality. They recognise EPS as a safe material to insulate walls, foundations, and floors.
On the other hand, minimising the need for heating or cooling systems by focusing on building an airtight space, is key. CITRA thermally insulated walls and a constant supply of fresh air filtered through ventilation systems, are designed to maximise comfort and ensure a uniform temperature throughout the year.
The condensation of water vapour is a very important threat to the building envelope. In cold climates, the water due to the heat and humidity of the interior air diffuses to the exterior walls and when it cools it condenses. In warm climates the opposite occurs; the water from the hot and humid air from the outside enters the building and meets colder areas where it condenses giving liquid water. This is the main reason why many buildings, in both hot and cold climates, have mould and wood rot problems.
Our materials are resistant to the adverse effects of humidity, meaning durability for the entire life of the house.
Smart Use of Natural Light
There is sufficient evidence (read more here: link) that shows how the well-being while indoors can be improved by bringing more natural light in. CITRA knows that a light home is also healthy for the mind and body and our architects respect the principles of open design, plenty of sunlight, and fresh air, fosters and hygienic and microbial-free environment.
Stay healthy at home
When considering building a healthy home, investing in organic, sustainable, and chemical-free materials, and considering good interior design, it’s unquestionably a smart move. Healthy homes benefit both the environment and its inhabitants, increasing well-being now and in the long term.
At CITRA, we use materials to build homes that care for the health of the people who live in them. Get in touch! We will love to hear your ideas.