Healthy Home Blueprint: 6 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality and Reduce Allergens in Your Home

Healthy Home Blueprint: 6 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality and Reduce Allergens in Your Home

Healthy Home Blueprint: 6 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality and Reduce Allergens in Your Home 1400 933 Vivid Invest

We developed the Healthy Home and Office Blueprint because we spend more than 90% of our time indoors. Your home and office not only have a profound impact on your overall well-being, energy, and performance but can also become a platform to actively promote health. As a developer, we strive to seamlessly integrate health into the built-environment and by doing so into the very fabric of our day-to-day lives.

In this series, we will introduce you to the main elements that make up the Healthy Home Blueprint. The concept identifies potential root causes of ill health, mitigates factors that negatively impact your well-being, and integrates features, materials, and technologies that convert your home into a platform for a healthier life.

The first part of our series will focus on indoor air quality. When we talk about air quality in Hong Kong, we usually refer to outdoor air quality. According to the Hedley Environmental Index in 2019 we had more than 190 ‘polluted days.’ This means that for more than half the year the city’s air quality levels exceeded the limits set by the World Health Organization Air Quality Guidelines. Not a lot of people are aware that indoor air can be significantly worse than outdoor air pollution. The concentrations of pollutants, toxins, allergens can be up to 5 times higher than outdoors. And 75% of our PM2.5 exposure (small particulate matter) occurs in our homes. Bad quality indoor air can have long-term adverse health impacts, such as respiratory diseases, lung cancer, allergies, and even cardiovascular disease. Clean air is essential to our health and well-being so what can you do to create a healthy indoor living environment?

1. Practice source control

Avoid any paints, adhesives, glues, furniture, wood products, or materials that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or Formaldehyde – both have been linked to cancer. Ask your supplier, contractor, or designer, and look out for independent third party certifications, such as Greenguard. How to avoid furniture that off-gasses pollutants? Go for reclaimed and solid wood furniture or buy secondhand furniture, since levels go down after several years. Avoid composite materials, particle boards, flame retardants and buy an organic mattress.

2. Consider an indoor air test

A test helps you to identify and if possible, remove sources of air pollution. E.g. VOCs including formaldehyde can be easily measured and if removal is not possible you can reduce exposure by applying a sealant on exposed surfaces of paneling and other furnishings. This also applies to Radon, the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer for the general population. Radon tests are advisable especially in houses or ground floor apartments since it enters your home through foundation cracks.

Alternatively, install an indoor and outdoor air quality monitor that tracks particulate matter pollution, VOCs and other pollutants. If the outdoor air quality is poor, keep the windows closed.

3. Ventilation

Increase airflow in your house by opening windows (on good air quality days) and use fans to circulate the air. However, natural ventilation in any type of home is only a temporary solution to reduce indoor air pollutants.

We love open-kitchen and living room designs but cooking, especially on gas stoves, generates harmful nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. An effective overhead range hood that exhausts to the outdoors is very important in this case.

4. Air purifiers

In Hong Kong, we always recommend having a professional air purifier installed, especially in your bedroom and nursery. We tested air purifiers and compared filter technologies, targeted pollutants, area coverage, and energy consumption. We highly recommend the IQ Air HealthPro 250 (no affiliation). As a cheaper alternative, you can retrofit your aircon with a KAF Sterilizing Nano Filter (no affiliation).

5. Get a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner

It should remove at least 99.97% of particles larger than 0.3-microns.

6. Air purifying plants

Plants not only help clean your indoor air, but they have the added benefit of bringing biophilic design into your home. We all have an intrinsic inclination to affiliate with nature; therefore, we pay more for an apartment overlooking the sea or forest. There is a growing body of evidence showing that exposure to natural elements has proven health benefits, such as faster recovery from illness, reduced stress, and increased cognitive functions. Let me be clear, plants alone will not be able to purify your indoor air unless you turn your home into a jungle, but we still recommend them to introduce nature into your home. Here are our top three:

  • Snake plant (living room)
  • Ivy or jade plant (bathroom)
  • Lavender (bedroom)

And German-made Lechuza self-watering planters (no affiliation) make it very easy to care for them.


Our next article in the Vivid Invest Healthy Home Blueprint series will focus on clean drinking water and what water filtration systems are the most effective ones. If you don’t want to miss out on any of our publications please make sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

We are always happy to hear about new solutions, products, technologies to create a healthier, cleaner indoor air environment. If you have any suggestions for us please feel free to reach out to us.

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