Healthy Environments


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The Secret Agent Report - Healthy Environments

July 2015

Healthy Environments

Healthy Environments [Download PDF]

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“Be careful about reading health books. Some fine day you’ll die of a misprint.”
– Markus Herz

Heating certainly makes our homes more comfortable in the midst of winter. After a long day at work, setting up next to the warm flames of a fireplace is a tempting option for many who have such a feature in their home. However, caution should be taken here. Fireplaces are terrible for your health – and for your neighbour’s, too.

Secret Agent wanted to dig deeper into other potential hazards in the home, which could impact how we choose to live and maybe even how we purchase a property. We have divided this month’s report into 6 domestic health risks: light, mould, indoor air quality, noise, carpets and electromagnetic radiation.

Excerpt:

Heating certainly makes our homes more comfortable in the midst of winter. After a long day at work, setting up next to the warm flames of a fireplace is a tempting option for many who have such a feature in their home. However, caution should be taken here. Fireplaces are terrible for your health – and for your neighbour’s, too.

In the developing world, over 4 million people die from diseases caused by heating and cooking with solid fuels. (WHO, 2014) The smoke that is released from burning solid fuels, like those from an open fireplace, is referred to as wood smoke. The pollutants in wood smoke include Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Carbon Monoxide and Fine Particles, and are essentially toxic to the human body. Common symptoms of breathing too much of these in can include eye irritations, headaches, damage to the respiratory system and aggravation of pre-existing heart or lung conditions. Frequent exposure to high concentrations can lead to cancer and death. (EPA, 2013)

Whilst you may think that these compounds escape your home through the chimney, this is incorrect. Research has shown that these compounds mostly re-settle in your home or in the homes surrounding yours. (Naeher et al, 2007)

A natural substance as innocent as wood can be as bad for you as cigarettes, or fumes from the exhaust pipe of a truck. It is safer to treat a fireplace as an ornamental feature rather than a source of heat.

Secret Agent wanted to dig deeper into other potential hazards in the home, which could impact how we choose to live and maybe even how we purchase a property. We have divided this month’s report into 6 domestic health risks: light, mould, indoor air quality, noise, carpets and electromagnetic radiation.

As a prospective homebuyer, it is advisable to take the findings from this report as serious considerations prior to purchasing a property. The long term benefits of living in a healthy environment is a price that is worth paying for.

References:

EPA, 2013. “Stay Warm Breathe Easy.” Accessed on 27th May 2015 at < http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/resources/woodsmoke/resourcekit/130057woodhealthlr.pdf>

Naeher et al., 2007. Woodsmoke Health Effects: A Review, Inhalation Toxicology, 19, 67-106.

WHO, 2014. “Household air pollution and health.” Accessed on 27th May 2015 at < http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/>