Healthy Indoors Magazine

HI May 2019

Healthy Indoors Magazine

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Page 17 of 58

18 | May 2019 Housing is Health Care: If we change what we live with, we will get better. By Kevin Kennedy A couple of strangers carrying small suit- cases arrive at Emma's front door. Emma is a five-year-old with asthma and her doctor recently gave the family a referral to a local company that offers home envi- ronmental assessment services. Emma's parents were not aware of this type of ser- vice and hadn't really known how their home might possibly be associated with Emma's asthma episodes. Home is where we live, eat, play, study, visit with friends and family, celebrate holidays, rest. We all understand the obvious — that having a safe home is essential for physical and mental health. But we now have a much greater under- standing how homes and indoor environments can interact with human physiology. The seen and unseen materials our houses are made with, the objects and substances we use in and around them, our routines and habits, and how we maintain our liv- ing spaces, all determine what we are exposed to. And what we are exposed to, in small or large doses, infrequently or every day, can impact our health. Over the last three decades there has been a growing study of the relationship between the built environment and human health. Especially indoor environments, because during the same time period there has been an increase in many chronic health conditions in the US and elsewhere. Asthma now affects about 10% of the US population. (AFAA) Around 60 million people in the US have some kind of allergy, and 10% report some kind of chemical sensitivity. (AFAA) While true that genetics and inheritance play a role in these health conditions, research suggests that the rise of their prevalence cannot be explained by genetics alone.

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