Can the choice of materials in construction affect our health?

We spend as much as 90% of our lives indoors. Won’t the materials in our surroundings affect both well-being and health?

Many people have probably experienced that they get a certain feeling in certain rooms or buildings? Why is it like that? Is there research into the importance of the materials for health? Could it be that we react differently to different materials? What are natural materials and are there actually unnatural materials?

Such questions were the starting point for InnoTre to become better acquainted with research on the use of wood in indoor environments and health effects. With the help of Kaja Aamodt Heltorp and Anders Q. Nyrud, both from NMBU, we have obtained a solid review of research-based literature. Here we publish their report, so that anyone interested can delve deeper, be inspired to gain more knowledge, and perhaps just as importantly, get more questions.

In short: There are many possible positive health effects of wood use, but the research-based knowledge base is not solid enough to draw final conclusions about the majority of the effects. As elsewhere in the world of research, one of the conclusions is that we need more knowledge to be able to answer all the questions. But here is in any case a collection of relevant research, which together can give us some answers and a clear clue.

In one area, the research is quite consistent. Results from perception studies show that wood is perceived as natural, healthy, pleasant, warm, pleasant and comfortable. Results from preference studies show that solid wood is systematically preferred over other materials and over wood-composite products.