Should your home carry a health warning?

New research reveals that 'indoor living' could be making us ill

You make think you’ve done everything you can to make your home a sanctuary. Perhaps you’ve added a spa-style bathroom, bought yourself a squishy new sofa or simply keep on top of the dusting. But did you know your home could actually be making you sick?

Related: How often should you clean your house?

According to new research from Velux (the window people), we spend 90 per cent of our time indoors without enough daylight and fresh air. And worse, we don’t even know it.

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Image credit: Polly Eltes

Of the Brits surveyed,  78 per cent thought they spent less than 21 hours indoors each day. And 53 per cent believed they were outside for at least six hours of every 24. Yet, in reality, the average time a person spends indoors a day is more than 21 hours. No wonder we are being labelled the ‘Indoor Generation’.

So what’s the problem with shunning the great outdoors? ‘Becoming an Indoor Generation carries with it several risks, not least when it comes to health in dark, poorly ventilated homes,’ says GP and broadcaster Dr Hilary Jones. ‘Poor ventilation can lead to damp or mould in the home, and can trigger asthmatic symptoms.’

Studies show that indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. And worryingly, children’s bedrooms are often found to be the most polluted parts of a house.

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It’s not just the air we breathe that’s an issue. ‘We must make sure that we’re getting the light exposure that we need in order to protect our immune systems,’ adds Dr Hilary. ‘Many of us don’t realise that lack of light can affect our sleep patterns. This, in turn, increases our risk of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and depression.’ Crikey!

Now, we don’t advise you immediately sell up and start sleeping in one of those cocoon hammocks in the forest. It’s not come to that just yet! But there are lots of ways you can stave off those health risks…

How to make your home healthier

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Image credit: Sussie Bell

1. Open your windows three to four times a day, to let polluted air escape and fresh air in.
2. Dry laundry outside – not on bannisters, the backs of chairs or radiators! This will reduce the chance of damp and mould developing, the likes of which can increase the risk of developing asthma by 40 per cent.
3. Get outside and expose yourself to some natural daylight. At the very least, sit near a window

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Image credit: Lizzie Orme

4. Keep your bathroom door closed. If you’re having a shower, turn on the extractor fan if you have one, or open a window.
5. Vacuum regularly to keep allergens like dust mites under control. Dusting alone won’t do it!
6. Don’t burn too many candles, as they can release toxic fumes like benzene and toluene. Ideally, stick to candles made from vegetable-based, non-scented wax.

For more ideas, read: Keep your home healthy by cutting down on allergens

Follow your tips and soon your home will be a fresher, brighter and – most importantly – healthy place for you and your family to enjoy.

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