Our mission is to promote daily and long term well-being in residences across the globe through robust environmental health research and smart home technologies. Homes for Health aims to provide information that helps renters and homeowners alike overcome common household challenges such as radon, allergens, energy efficiency, and indoor air pollution. The team works to answer critical questions that address the health of your whole family, including susceptible populations such as children and elderly, as well as healthy adults.
Our longest indoor exposure time is in the home
The home is an opportunity to modify your family’s social and environmental well-being. Everyday decisions about house maintenance, ventilation, and product use can impact your health. In the U.S., nearly two-thirds of the population live in cities, which can expose residents to diverse outdoor exposures due to traffic congestion, thermal load, and chronic noise that directly impact our experience indoors. Quantifying the impact of these obstacles can help us identify practical, energy efficient solutions.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are created by incomplete combustion processes including, cooking, domestic heating, power generation, and vehicular emissions. They have been associated with an increased risk of developing cancer throughout the body including organ systems such as lung, bladder, stomach, skin, prostate, and pancreas.
Indoor allergens include pet dander, pollen, mold, house dust mites, and pest excrements, which can trigger an immune response that leads to an allergic reaction. Allergens can result in the development and the exacerbation of asthma. Vacuuming with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, washing pets and bedding, encasing mattresses in allergen-impermeable materials have been shown to reduce exposure, but not completely remove the risk.
Pesticides are toxic substances used in and around homes to control household, lawn and garden pests such as insects, rodents, fungi and bacteria. Active ingredients in insecticides and rodenticides often target nervous system function and have been linked to acute symptoms including headache, nausea as well as skin and eye irritation. Long term exposure has been linked to cancer, immune suppression, birth defects, and other physiological system damages. Environmental effects of pesticides include ecosystem disruption, loss of biodiversity, and water, soil and food chain contamination.
Particulate matter are particles suspended in the air from both natural and anthropogenic sources. In one cubic centimeter of air, there are typically over 5,000 of these particles. The toxicity of particulate matter depends on its composition, source, and size. While our nasal passage is effective at removing larger particles, smaller particles, which tend to be more toxic, can penetrate into our lungs and cross the blood-air barrier. More than 30 years of research show air pollution is strongly associated with mortality, heart attacks, asthma, and decreased lung function.