Photo by: Flickr user Justin Lynham, CC BY-NC 2.0

The air we breathe in our homes and offices can have a major impact on our overall health.

 

What Can Happen: Materials like fiberboard, foam insulation, carpets, paint, and other construction items can emit dangerous fumes called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can include chemicals like formaldehyde, which is known to cause respiratory issues and even cancer. They can also emit tiny particulate matter and liquid droplets that further inflame the lungs. Other particulates can be created by heating, cooking, and smoking, and can remain trapped indoors. 

Why It Matters: There’s a lot of research on how climate change may affect public health, but its effects on indoor environments isn’t as well studied. As our climate changes, buildings that were designed to operate under the “old” climate conditions may not function well under “new” conditions—causing health problems for those who live, work, study, or play in them.

Climate Connection: Rising temperatures from climate change affects outdoor pollutants, creating excess smog and ozone that can find its way indoors. When combined with pollutants generated by construction and cleaning supplies, people living and working inside can experience worse air quality than people just outside their doors. Even some green buildings designed to fight climate change can also have a negative impact on indoor air because they’re built to be airtight and efficient, effectively sealing in indoor pollutants.

Resources:

Home is Where the Pipeline Ends

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COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance Among Pregnant Women and Mothers of Young Children

As multiple effective vaccines are developed, their distribution and overall acceptance by the public is crucial to stop the spread of COVID-19. Research conducted by Principal Investigator of the Human Immunomics Initiative, Dr. Julia Wu, in collaboration with Pregistry focused on a crucial population- mothers and their children. Estimates of global vaccine acceptance among pregnant women and…

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Poor indoor air quality may dull cognitive abilities

Gases such as carbon dioxide and substances released from office furniture, carpets, and desks may be dulling our minds at work, according to experts. A May 6, 2019 New York Times article catalogued recent evidence suggesting that carbon dioxide, a main ingredient in our exhalations, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—all commonly found in office buildings—may…

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Harnessing Big Data

Medicine and public health are constantly evolving as research and technology open the doors to new ways to treat or prevent diseases. Randomized trials are the best way to assess what works. But when that’s not possible, people like Miguel Hernán, Kolokotrones Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, try to replicate those trials using vast amounts…

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The increased global incidence of chronic metabolic diseases—including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular and liver diseases—has become one of the greatest global health threats of the 21st century. To tackle this crisis, Murat Ülker, a leading entrepreneur in Istanbul, contributed $24 million to the Harvard Chan School in 2014 on behalf of the Ülker family to…

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Environmental perceptions and health before and after relocation to a green building.

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The state of evidence on green building design as it relates to human health. 

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January 10, 2019 – Millions of children could be getting too much lead in the water they drink at school, according to a new report from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California. More than 40% of schools around the country appear to have higher-than-recommended…

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Does it feel better to work in a green building?

Environmental perceptions and health before and after relocation to a green building.

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The state of evidence on green building design as it relates to human health. 

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The Impact of Green Buildings on Cognitive Function

Do we work smarter in green buildings?

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Climate Change, the Indoor Environment, and Health

The impact of climate change on indoor environments affects the health of those who live, work, study, or play in them.

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Your building might be making you sick. Joe Allen can help.

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These toxic chemicals are everywhere — even in your body. And they won’t ever go away.

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Harvard study: Green buildings deliver nearly $6bn in health and climate benefits

Green certified buildings are delivering billions of dollars in health, climate and energy-saving benefits, according to a major new study from Harvard University.

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A Greener, More Healthful Place to Work

Americans spend over 90 percent of their lives indoors. Until recently, little was known about how this was impacting us. But evidence is now mounting that we are paying a physiological price for spending all those hours cooped up unnaturally within four walls.

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Dr. Aaron Bernstein

Aaron Bernstein MD, MPH

Aaron examines the human health effects of global environmental changes with the aim of promoting a deeper understanding of these subjects among students, educators, policy makers, and the public.

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