Ellen Tohn Makes the Case for Adding Health to the Home Equation

By Susan Valenti Corliss

In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), University of Tulsa and myself produced a conference on asthma and allergies that was supposed to break down barriers between the medical community and the indoor environmental industry. It was thought that if we brought all the stakeholders to one event we’d be able to work together in solving consumer’s indoor health issues where they live, work and play. Sure, we seemed to have a lock on public health officials working on the issues in their small way–house by house– but the key though was getting the doctors to hop on board the train to play a role. We needed them to think about the buildings and homes in a new way and ask the consumer how they felt in those areas.

Fast forward 18 years, consultant and researcher Ellen Tohn broke down what’s happening in the world today and she said there’s progress. In just the last few weeks, she’s been at events for climate, energy, and children’s health. All of these events have featured increased communications about solutions for health and buildings.

“In terms of health outcomes, clinical care with doctors or drug prescriptions only make up about 20 percent, while the physical environment– what we do in air and water and housing conditions– counts for 10 percent of what makes us healthy,” she told attendees of the IAQ & Energy 2018 Conference held earlier this month in Portland, Me. “So we’re affecting half of that and that’s quite significant. Doctors are starting to talk about health ‘upstream,’ or the ways we’re living that make us unhealthy and how do we fix that.”

Tohn, who is the founder and principal at Tohn Environmental Strategies in Wayland, Mass., says that for the amount of money the United States spends on healthcare we don’t have very good outcomes. Because of this she’s beginning to see in a variety of sectors that experts are realizing the places we live is a big driver for people’s health. And this is really starting to come to fruition in building standards.

Green Building Standards

The taglines “Buildings Are for People” and “Doing Right By Planet and People” are now no accident. Green building programs are starting to track health benefits of occupants. Workplace studies are now calculating sick days as a means of gauging health.

Read the full article in the May issue of Healthy Indoors Magazine at: https://hi.healthyindoors.com/i/983045-hi-may-2018/7

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Tags: Air, Ellen, Healthy, Homes, IAQ, Indoor, Indoors, Magazine, Quality, Tohn


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