A Note from Joe and Jack
Consider this – you spend 65% of your entire life inside your home. In fact, a full one third of your life is spent in one room in your home – your bedroom.
Your home = your health. It’s that simple.
Homes for Health is a project borne out of our many years of hearing the question – ‘How do I Make My Home a Healthy Home?’ We have been actively engaged in the field of researching healthy indoor environments for decades. Joe for 10+years. Jack for 40+ years. We think we’ve seen it all – everything that can go wrong in the places where we live, work, play, pray and heal. We’ve also seen how to do it right.
This report, Homes for Health outlines 36 expert tips that can be implemented to make your home a healthier home. It follows our previous reports on healthy indoor environments, including ‘The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building’ and ‘Schools for Health: Foundations for Student Success’.
In preparing Homes for Health, we relied on the best available scientific evidence and our decades of combined experience evaluating the factors that determine our health indoors. Great academic research or knowledge that is: locked up in scientific journals, wasting away in the heads of faculty, or rendered inaccessible through jargon, are not helping to advance public health. This report is part of our effort to translate research into actionable recommendations.
We did our best to ensure that the 35 tips are generalizable to most homes. However, we acknowledge that each home and living environment is different. Most certainly our recommendations would be slightly different for a single-family home v. a multi-unit apartment complex, just as the recommendations would be slightly different for a family with young children v. homes for seniors. Each environment and demographic requires special considerations and needs; specific recommendations for each situation would necessarily vary accordingly. That said, we felt it was not possible to capture all of this nuance in one short report, and we also felt that this complexity should not hold us back from putting out solid recommendations that are relevant to many people.
Our field is the field of environmental health. As such, this report focuses on environmental factors in the home that drive health. This is not about all of the other things that make us healthy: our community, friends and family; social interactions; happiness; nutrition; or exercise. This is also not a guide for construction or design, nor do we tackle sustainability measures like energy and water efficiency, solar panels or siting concerns.
What this report is, however, is a quick guide for how people can take simple steps to make their home a healthier home. To keep the report short and practical, we employed two tactics. First, we organized the information in a way that allowed us to provide 5 key tips for each room of the home. There are, of course, overlap across these recommendations and rooms of a home. We encourage readers to look at all recommendations across the home. Second, we eliminated deep descriptions of specific concerns and we have avoided overly technical language where possible. For readers interested in learning more about a specific topic, we have highlighted key words in this report for which our team and collaborators have prepared an additional two-page summary that is available on our website at www.ForHealth.org.
Last, we want to explicitly recognize that this report is tailored to homes in the developed world and does not attempt to address the massive global burden of disease created by unhealthy living environments in developing countries.
Our first and most important recommendation is this – Trust Your Senses. The world’s most advanced scientific instruments can’t match your own body’s sensing ability. In our experience, when people report poor conditions indoors, they are often quickly dismissed as complainers. Our experience also tells us that these people are very often 100% correct about the nature, source and timing of the issue they are experiencing. So, Trust Your Senses.
We welcome your feedback on Homes for Health. Our plan is to update this report periodically, and to supplement it based on requests from end-users. We hope you find this information helpful.