Modern Indoor Living Can Be Bad For Your Health: New YouGov Survey Sheds Light On Risk Of The "Indoor Generation"

Should our homes carry health warnings or health labels? A new survey published today demonstrates that the general public is largely unaware of the significant health risks posed by spending too much time indoors in unhealthy homes.

Whether we like it or not, we are the so-called “Indoor Generation”. On average, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, yet many of us are not aware of the risks associated with our indoor environments. A new study by YouGov for the VELUX Group asked 16,000 members of the public in 14 countries across North America and Europe about their perceptions of indoor living.

Firstly, we think we spend less time indoors than we actually do. The perception across all those surveyed was that we only spend 18 percent of our time inside (just over 4 hours), while the actual figure is 90 percent (more than 21 hours).

And, at a time when urban pollution is top of mind for many people, only 77 percent are aware that in actual fact, indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, with kids’ bedrooms often among the most polluted rooms in the house.

“We know instinctively that spending so many hours in stuffy places isn’t good for us,” says Peter Foldbjerg, head of daylight energy and indoor climate at VELUX, “According to research, living in damp and moldy homes increases our risk of asthma by 40 percent and leaves us vulnerable to developing other ailments.”

Everyday home life activities, such as cooking, cleaning, showering, lighting candles, drying clothes – even sleeping and breathing, all contribute to polluted indoor air, which over time can cause the development of illnesses.

Indeed, it is thought that more children will suffer from asthma or allergies in the coming years unless we act now to ensure that the design of our homes and public buildings is improved in order to tackle the problem we face with indoor pollution, and the amount of time the Indoor Generation spends inside.

Foldbjerg continues: “With the pressures of modern life we are all now firmly a part of the Indoor Generation and we need to understand the implications on our health and wellbeing of life indoors, as well as outdoors, when it comes to polluted air.

“We are a 24/7 society and this has disconnected us from the natural rhythms of nature – our circadian rhythm, a neurophysiological term for the 24-hour body clock that anticipates and adapts our physiology to the different phases of the day, sleep and wake cycle. All of this impacts our sleep quality and general health.

It is time we re-think the way we live indoors and do everything we can to ensure homes are healthy places to live. Here are six simple steps to make the air inside your home healthier:

  • Open your windows or skylights three to four times a day to allow fresh air in
  • Keep bathroom doors closed and turn on the extractor fan or open a window or skylight when showeringTurn hood fan on when cooking and open your windows or skylights
  • Don’t burn candles
  • Dry clothes outside
  • Clean regularly

To illustrate the danger of indoor air pollution, the VELUX Group today launched a short film about the “Indoor Generation”. Narrated by a young girl, the film leads viewers through a history of indoor living that has ended up with dark, sealed buildings, which often have unhealthy levels of moisture, bacteria and chemical pollutants present in the air. The result is that we increasingly struggle with coughs, colds and other respiratory illnesses, bad sleep, lack of energy, moodiness, poor concentration and other ailments. But, as our narrator tells us, it’s up to us to decide how the story ends. Watch here to find out more:

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Dana Haydock
Ashley Moran

VELUX is the world leader in skylights and roof windows and is one of the strongest brands in the global building materials sector. VELUX America products are available nationwide through home centers, building material suppliers, lumberyards and independent door, window or roofing retailers. Consumers can locate local suppliers and installers and access information on skylight selection and the benefits of bringing more natural light and fresh air into the home by visiting VELUX skylights are made in America in Greenwood, South Carolina.
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