It doesn't bear thinking about, but at any given time, there are about two million dust mites living in your bed, feeding on you as you snooze. Then there are the bed bugs, bacteria, mould, fungi and viruses also taking refuge between your sheets, not to mention under your carpets, on your sofa and in your curtains.
Whether you realise it or not, Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) is a real concern in the UAE. Extreme temperatures, high humidity levels, the continuous use of air conditioning, frequent sandstorms and a never-ending haze of construction dust all contribute in ensuring that the air that gets trapped in our homes is full of impurities. Add to this the fact that people in the UAE spend an average of 80 per cent of their time indoors and that most homes have double glazing, which prevents the sun's UV rays - the earth's natural disinfectant - from getting in, and it's little surprise that, according to the latest research, up to 40 per cent of children and a third of all adults in the UAE suffer from allergic rhinitis, while one in eight adults is asthmatic.
If you've ever found yourself experiencing severe headaches, lethargy or sinusitis during the hotter months, and have been happy to put it down to increased exposure to your AC, you're probably only halfway to the truth; it's time to start questioning how healthy your home is.
"The lifestyle in the UAE is typical for allergies, sinusitis, hay fever and asthma, and there are now well-defined areas where dust mites and dander are each the strongest contributors to asthma risk. Indoor allergens, such as dust mites, are also more important in the pathogenesis of allergic airway disease than others," says Dr Johannes van Dijk, general practitioner at Mediclinic in Dubai.
Nonetheless, out of sight is out of mind when it comes to indoor air quality, admits Chadi Jaber, the founder and managing director of The Healthy Home, a new Dubai-based company that specialises in eliminating impurities and micro-organisms from residential and commercial spaces.
"There are outlets that are trying to educate the community about IEQ; however, since this is a fairly unknown topic and only a handful of companies specialise in actual indoor environment improvement, we will be creating further awareness about the importance of indoor environment control while educating the community about effective and feasible ways to achieve a healthier indoor environment," he says .
Jaber has lived and worked in the GCC for more than eight years, and spent the majority of his career in the banking and finance industries before moving into facilities management and construction a few years ago. He was inspired to launch The Healthy Home after his brother's son started suffering from mild asthma and hay fever when he was just 16 months old.
"The launch of the company holds significant value to me and my brother, as we ventured through several solutions to improve my brother's son's health. We did extensive research with medical experts to find a way to improve his health and came across the technology that actually improved and alleviated the common symptoms. It was evident that we had to share this service with other people who suffer from similar diseases and symptoms, which led to the launch of The Healthy Home."
The company is currently focusing on treatments for mattresses and other soft furnishings, and uses an innovative, dry and chemical-free deep-cleaning solution that eliminates dead or living dust mites, bed bugs, bacteria, mould and fungi and their fragments from any home environment. It claims to be "the only company in the Middle East that can completely sanitise your mattress - other mattress-cleaning companies can only sanitise the surface area of your mattress".
The 25- to-30-minute treatment starts with an industrial-strength pulsating vacuum device with special, hypoallergen High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters (it has 11 times the suction power of a regular vacuum). This is used to provide extreme vibrations and pulsations to both sides of the mattress, dislodging and removing dust particles, fungal spores and other debris. Next, a medical-grade sanitising device is used, which harnesses ultraviolet light to destroy DNA, getting rid of any lingering mites, bacteria, mould or pathogens. At the same time, all unpleasant odours emanating from your mattress are neutralised, leaving you with a fresh, mite-free place to sleep. Because the treatment is dry and chemical free, the mattress can be used straight away.
Most allergy sufferers and asthmatics will apparently experience immediate signs of relief, while everyone else can rest easy in the knowledge that they are practising good sleep hygiene. Prices for the treatment start at Dh250 for a single mattress.
It's recommended that mattresses are deep-cleaned and sanitised at least twice a year or, if there are allergy sufferers in the house, every three months. "By minimising upholstery and fabric reservoirs in the environment of the allergic person and using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter in the areas where the person spends most of his or her time, like the bedroom, lower allergen levels and a clinical improvement will be noticed. It's also important to minimise the use of chemical cleaning products as this also affects the air quality that is inhaled," suggests Dr van Dijk.
A positive response to The Healthy Home's services suggests that Jaber has identified an important niche in the market, and the company is already planning to introduce additional services and products to its portfolio. "We have received excellent feedback from individual residential customers who value our great customer service, the team's knowledge and expertise and the advanced technology that we use," Jaber says.
"It is our goal to create as much awareness as possible around the topic of IEQ, and especially what impurities are found within a home and how they can be detrimental to a person's health."
. To book a free demo or to schedule an appointment with The Healthy Home, visit www.thehealthyhome.me