‘Healthy, happy home’ important during self-isolation, says expert
March 26 2020 01:48 AM
Hamoda Youssef
Hamoda Youssef

As Qatar continues to encourage the community to stay home and self-isolate to flatten the coronavirus curve, the importance of creating a happy, healthy home is becoming increasingly more important.
“Our homes are now where we live, work, learn, play, relax – they are where we do everything – so it is important to keep them healthy,” Hamoda Youssef, head of Technical Affairs at Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), told a recent interactive webinar.
The first instalment of QGBC’s Healthy Homes series, set to air weekly on its Facebook channel, centred on three main topics: air quality, light, and thermal comfort.
“Indoor air pollution is as harmful as outdoor air pollution,” said Youssef. Indoor pollution can come from cooking, heating, toxic chemicals, cleaning, furnishings, and paint.
“Ventilate your home as much as you can,” said Youssef, explaining that there are a number of easy ways to improve your air quality, including opening windows if the weather is good; installing air quality monitors and sensors; relying on natural air purifiers, such as plants; and using non-toxic materials.
He also suggests reducing the use of incense and candles, not smoking indoors, sealing gaps and openings, and using green cleaning products.
“The importance of daylight in your health goes beyond the basics of vitamin D,” said Youssef. 
Natural daylight regulates your circadian rhythm, improves sleep quality, and productivity, while homes with insufficient light can cause headaches, insomnia, and increase depression. Daylight can also help to fight mold and bacteria growth, helping to lower the risk of respiratory diseases. And if you have daylight, you don’t need artificial light – so a direct energy saving,” the expert pointed out.
The QGBC expert also spoke about thermal comfort, which includes four environmental factors – air temperature, humidity, airspeed, and radiant temperature – and two personal factors – clothing and metabolic rates.
“Thermal discomfort can be associated with respiratory illnesses like asthma and poor mental health. Mental health, productivity, and attention – these are related to feeling discomfort in the space. Exposure to noise can increase stress and blood pressure.”
Suggested actions include setting room temperatures to between 22-24C, while ensuring humidity levels are around 40%.
Youssef also explained how plants can be a natural source of purification.
“Having access to plants, and seeing them, will impact your mood and mental well-being. The effects are not just physical but mental, too.” 
Youssef explained which plants should be kept in the living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.
For example, some plants omit oxygen during the day, while some omit oxygen at night – such as gerbera daisies and snake plants, which are ideal for the bedroom.

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