The pandemic has been an alarm to worry about the air we breathe, and we have rushed to see the options for ventilation, filtration, humidity control and even physical remodeling.
Updated 01/16/2021 00:00
In a recent interview on healthy cities and buildings, we forecast that citizens’ questions for 2021, after vaccines and the economy, will be: Am I in a healthy building? What are the maintenance and cleaning policies? Who certifies? that these cleaning policies are enough? How can I protect my family? How do I have more health and how do I raise my immune system? Does the place where I live generate well-being?
The moment we are living in puts us all interested in these answers: parents, workers, office administrators, designers, project developers, State managers, urban planners, doctors, sociologists, environmentalists, transporters and technologists. There is no turning back, we have to make personal and collective changes in favor of generating lifestyles that have prevention and planning as pillars in daily decision-making.
The desire to improve our immune system, have health and practice prevention is to want well-being, and to generate it, you have to understand it.
One of the most complete definitions of well-being is the search for activities, options and lifestyles that lead us to a complete state of mental and physical health. It is a definition that includes two spheres: the personal and the collective.
The definition of well-being in the personal sphere falls on us as individual beings and our ability to be convinced, to have the capacity in the moment and to make the opportune decisions.
Based on the above, we can find personal wellness in nutrition and weight loss; preventive medicine and visiting doctors when we are healthy; wellness or wellness tourism; the use of personal products to prevent aging and in the fitness of the body and soul, among others.
On the other hand, the definition of well-being in the collective sphere is one that covid-19, together with the prediction of other future pandemics, is calling us to urgently change. And here we can talk about many steps that would lead to the generation of policies, projects and regulations that provide socioeconomic and environmental well-being.
All these activities have to start from scientifically understanding how built environments affect our health.
Since a year ago the covid-19 raised the alarm to worry about the air we breathe, and we have run to see the options for ventilation, filtration, humidity control and even physical remodeling. And it is true, air is the first topic within the international standard of well-being, however, the definition is completed by studying other factors such as water, light, temperature, smell, comfort, sound, promotion to good nutrition and not being sedentary.
Lastly, the standard also offers us guidance on how developments can generate that much-needed peace of mind. Any distortion of the values considered acceptable in the aforementioned factors causes detriment to health specified in the different body systems: cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, nervous, respiratory and musculoskeletal, among others.
Does a distortion in an office lamp cause us health problems? Yes, it is already proven that our metabolism is connected to natural light (circadian rhythm) and any sudden change to that internal biological clock causes us to affect the nervous system.
Can some finishes or furniture that are installed continue to pollute the air? Yes, some materials after being installed continue to emit toxic gases into the environment for many years (off gassing). What happens if I don’t encourage the workers in my business to eat properly? It happens a lot, because it is estimated that the risk of being unproductive increases by 66% when we do not eat properly. Can the surroundings of my house, my office and my city give me peace of mind? Yes, and in various ways. Promoting the connection with the natural, the biophilic culture, being informed about the characteristics of my environment and planning prevention policies help us worry less. We could continue with many other examples.
It is not to scare us with what we do not know, but to know and plan the opportunities to generate well-being in the environment.