Did you know the typical American spends 65% of our life inside our homes?
They say ‘Home is where the heart is’, and it’s meant to be a figurative expression, but it turns out that it’s also a literal expression, too. The typical American spends 65% of their life in their home – our home is quite literally where our heart spends most of its time. And it turns out that heart health (and brain health and hormone health and mental health) is dependent on home health.
So, what to do? Where does one start in making their home a healthy home? The best place to start is right at the front door. Kick your shoes off at the door and keep all the junk that is outside from coming inside.
Anything you step on in the street or on the sidewalk you bring into your home. You don’t want that. One of the best healthy homes steps you can take is to kick your shoes off at the door. This will limit tracking in dirt and dust from outdoors into your home.
Every home must have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor. These are designed to alert you – loudly and quickly – in the event of a life-threatening situation. Test them regularly to be sure they’re working. And a really good tip is to change the batteries in all of your detectors every time you change your clocks for daylight savings time. This will ensure you change the batteries twice per year, and it’s an easy way to remember.
The human species evolved over millennia in close alignment with light from the rising and setting sun. It’s only recently that we have altered that relationship. But it turns out that exposure to light, at the right times, is critical to our natural circadian rhythm. So open up those window shades in the morning and let the light in!
Similar with light, we evolved in close connection with nature, but have recently walled ourselves off from nature with our buildings. This made sense – homes are designed to protect us from the elements, after all. But we’ve done this so successfully that we’ve limited our connection with nature. So consider the field of biophilic design and bringing a bit more nature back into your home.
If you’re in a home built before 1980, there is a good chance you have lead in the paint, indoors and outdoors. Lead is one of the most potent neurological toxicants known, causing lifelong impacts on IQ, learning and behavior. If you’re in an old home, test the interior and exterior paint for lead, and remediate it if you find it. (University of Massachusetts has an inexpensive test soil test that will let you know about lead in your soil, amongst other things.) This is especially important for homes with young kids. Women of child-bearing age should also pay close attention; the lead the mom is exposed to, even before becoming pregnant, gets passed down to the developing fetus during pregnancy.