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Covid-19 leading us to spending more time indoors

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and people spending more time indoors than we did before there are a number of key health factors that we need to take into consideration in our homes.

In full view of the current global pandemic, companies are asking more employees to work from home or remotely because of Covid-19. As a result, we will be spending more time indoors than we previously did prior to the outburst of Covid-19. With COVID-19 causing respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing, what does this mean about the quality of our health and environment in our homes?

indoor health quality residential home with Gyproc ceiling

There are a couple of key environmental elements to consider in our residential homes that impact our comfort and health.

Indoor Air Quality

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. It is for that reason that the surfaces and objects in our homes need to be kept clean. The quality of air in homes can have affect surfaces and objects found in our homes. And while you are likely disinfecting surfaces regularly, you might be forgetting to clean a critical part of your home: the air.


Indoor air quality is known to affect the health, comfort and well-being of building occupants, in fact, poor indoor air quality can easily be linked to numerous respiratory diseases. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s also worth noting that viruses can linger in rooms through coughing, sneezing or even breathing. This is because the principal transmission mode of the Covid-19 is by respiratory droplets, which may travel several distances from someone who is coughing or sneezing.


Improving the quality of your home’s indoor air which can be full of pollutants, emissions and germs are beneficial for many reasons and important, pandemic or no pandemic. Indoor air quality in our homes can be affected by different indoor pollutants; gases (including carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds), particulates, microbial contaminants (mould, bacteria), or any mass or energy stressor that can induce adverse health conditions. Building finishes and furnishings (plywood, paint, furniture, floor/wall coverings) also have an impact on the quality of the air we breathe in our homes.


One way to control indoor air pollution is therefore to remove emissions of primary and secondary pollutants at the source. This can be achieved by paying attention to the ingredients of materials brought into any living or working space and, where possible, choosing healthier alternatives (formaldehyde-free, natural products). Another practical way of improving indoor air quality is to get outdoor air moving by opening doors and windows as often as possible. Higher ventilation rates can be helpful in reducing the risk of viruses in general.


Essentially a good building design can mitigate numerous indoor air quality issues. In addition, proper ventilation (mechanical and natural ventilation) and specification of the right building materials are essential to increase the supply of fresh air in a building and to reduce our exposure to indoor pollutants and odours. Modern construction materials have been specifically developed to actively remove polluting and harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from indoor air.


At Saint-Gobain we have  several product categories that have a direct impact on indoor air quality: Products with the lowest emissivity possible for the building envelope in insulation, dry lining, facade, wall or floor covering, membranes and high-performance windows and doors providing complete airtightness superior airtightness; Products to purify indoor air by scavenging certain (VOCs) Volatile Organic Compounds such as formaldehyde;


We believe that the air indoors should be as good as the air outdoors and that is why amongst many other products, we produce high-performance boards that can be used in our daily environments to improve the indoor air quality and provide healthier environments. Activ’Air® is a unique technology added to our Gyproc range plasterboards and ceiling products. It is designed specifically to decompose formaldehyde emissions into nonharmful inert compounds, thus eliminating the risk of re-emission. Activ’Air® makes the air 70% cleaner and will produce cleaner, fresher air for at least 50 years.


As part of our Gyproc range of plasterboards, we also have RhinoBoard Moisture Resistant board®. This board has moisture and mould resistance qualities, making it suitable for wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. Additionally, our tiles & adhesives remove the hassle of refurbishments during this Lockdown period, by offering easy-to-use solutions and rapid setting adhesives like the Weber Renovate Adhesive Grey which allows for quick room conversions and tile on tile solutions. Saint-Gobain also offers ready mix paste adhesive, weber fix, Super-flex, which provides a low fume and zero dust solution for remodelling living spaces.


Quantity and quality of light within our homes

Natural lighting is a magnificent benefit provided by nature. Anything that reduces the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity is a benefit to the environment. By increasing our home’s exposure to the sun with modern, thermal, energy-efficient windows and doors, creates a healthier, happier, more comfortable and more sustainable home. This is referred to as the conservatory glazing. A conservatory should be a natural extension to the home providing useable, extra living space that can be enjoyed whatever the time of year.


Saint-Gobain Glass has SGG PLANITHERM 4S which has been developed especially for conservatory glazing applications. Offering excellent solar control properties, reduced glare and enhanced thermal insulation SGG PLANITHERM 4S provides true year-round comfort when used throughout the conservatory.

As we continue to spend more time indoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the quantity and quality of natural light we are exposed to will be crucial to our comfort and well-being. Natural sunlight comes with a lot of benefits which can be classified in two ways; psychological and health.


In terms of psychological benefits, natural sunlight creates an energetic environment that is productive. A study performed by Loyola University found that people who work in sunlight have better short-term cognitive powers than those who work in the shadows. Other studies have shown that workers in sunlit areas are more productive than workers without exposure to natural light. With our homes set to be our workplace during this lockdown period, the amount of natural sunlight could either spur or inhibit a positive attitude and productivity.


Natural lighting boasts of numerous health benefits; increase in vitamins B and D, stimulates appetite and improves digestion, improves blood circulation, natural sun increases red blood cells and boosts white blood cell counts, boosts your immune system, the daytime sun helps persons sleep better at night, helps to balance the body’s hormones, natural sun boosts energy and strengthens organs. This goes to prove the importance of natural sunlight or lighting in as far as our health is concerned. It is imperative that we ensure we are exposed to the right amount and quality of lighting. This we can do by making sure we open our windows and doors or any other points of entry in our homes that could provide sufficient lighting in our homes.


Due to Covid-19, we find ourselves spending more time indoors than we previously did due to cautionary measures deployed by governments and as a result, we can only do so much to ensure we get the right quantities of lighting. However, building design and choice of materials and equipment obviously play a decisive role. This is because natural light varies all the time, ensuring a constant quality of light involves controlling its intensity. This can mean either reducing too much incoming light by shading or compensating for low light levels with artificial light. Increasingly sophisticated control systems are able to manage all these variables, and help achieve a successful balance in the combined use of artificial light and daylight.


Saint-Gobain offers several product categories that have a direct impact on the quantity and quality of lighting: Transparent products, such as glass, window films or architectural membranes, which allow optimised access to daylight and views through windows, doors and partitions.


Translucent products that allow daylight whilst preserving privacy. Opaque interior products, such as wall coverings, ceiling or flooring products, which can contribute to the distribution of daylight and to the aesthetics of the space.

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Gyproc Saint-Gobain South Africa

1 Shale Rd, N1 Business Park, Intersection of Old JHB Road and Tlokwa Street, Samrand
South Africa

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