3 ways to create a healthier living room

June 30, 2015

From sitting around watching TV to possibly breathing in fumes from fittings and furniture, our living areas aren't always the healthiest of places. Here are 3 ways to turn your living room into a healthier environment.

3 ways to create a healthier living room

1. Choose natural comfort

A good starting point for a healthier living room is a more natural environment. With just a few changes, you can make a big positive impact in your living space.

  • Try to avoid furnishings and fittings that are made with synthetic products. As well as being derived from non-renewable petroleum, these often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which emit harmful fumes.
  • If you have been living with your furniture a long time, chances are emissions from treated fabrics and chemical finishes have depleted. But next time something needs replacing, buy items made from natural materials that have not been treated with chemicals. Quiz your supplier and manufacturer, if need be.
  • Consider doing without carpets – especially if any family members suffer from allergies or asthma – as carpets harbour dust mites and dirt. New synthetic carpets are also likely to contain VOCs, as are some natural fibre carpets that have been treated with fire retardants.
  • If you do choose carpet, opt for natural fibres. Wool carpets are a good choice and naturally fire-resistant, so they normally don't require chemical retardants.
  • Let as much sun into living areas as possible to provide warmth and invigorating sunlight. Sunlight will also help eliminate dust mites.
  • Make sure your living area is well ventilated – open your windows regularly.
  • Keep plants, such as spathiphyllums and kentia palms, in living areas to help clear the air of chemical fumes.
  • In winter, heat the room efficiently and cleanly so that you are comfortable, but avoid overheating.

2. Avoid brominated flame retardants

Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are chemicals used to reduce the flammability of carpets, curtains, televisions, computers, and other furnishings and appliances. While it may be difficult to avoid them entirely, it's a good idea to keep them out of your living room as much as possible.

  • What's the problem? Tests have shown that the chemicals accumulate in household dust and are absorbed by our bodies; high levels have been found in blood and breast milk.
  • Why does it matter? Certain BFRs, known as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), have been shown to disrupt thyroid hormone function in animals, and may cause fetal damage.
  • What's being done? The PBDEs known as penta and octa have been banned in Europe and parts of the United States. Environmental groups are campaigning for other PBDEs to be phased out, too.
  • What can I do? Ask retailers or manufacturers whether textiles or appliances have been treated with these retardants. If you can't find a BFR-free product, make sure you frequently ventilate the area where the item is used.

3. Opt for antique and second-hand furniture

Antique and second-hand furniture in original condition is less likely to emit harmful gases and are therefore excellent options for furnishing your home.

Your living room should be a space where you can relax with family and friends. By furnishing the room with items made from natural materials and ensuring good ventilation, you can create a healthier and more comfortable environment for everyone.

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