Is Your House Making You Sick?

by Rachel Laurendeau on September 6, 2012

Do you feel great when you’re out of the house but then feel tired, lethargic, wheezy, sneezy or overcome by headaches when you’re at home? Your house could be making you sick without you ever suspecting it. Your symptoms could have started when you moved into your new home or after remodeling, using a new household product or buying a new piece of furniture.

Chemical sensitivities and indoor air quality– many store-bought house cleaning products and other chemicals such as air fresheners and bug sprays contain harmful chemicals that can cause health problems. Try replacing these with natural home made cleaners.

There can be many other sources of toxic chemicals in your home as well. If you are building or remodeling your home, many building materials contain products that will off-gas noxious gasses called VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into your home over time. Try choosing less harmful materials for your home improvement projects. Paints, flooring, carpet and even furniture can contain VOCs so be on the lookout for these culprits.

Chemical sensitivities can cause a wide range of problems including headaches, respiratory problems and fatigue. Some people become extremely sensitive to chemicals in their home or work environment and become very ill, usually due to overexposure, which is why it is important to reduce your exposure as much as possible.

Ensuring that your home’s heating and ventilation system is working well may be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Keep your filters free of dust and debris, have your air ducts cleaned and your HVAC system serviced regularly to keep it running well. Use your kitchen and bathroom fans regularly to remove humidity and odors. In a new home that has very little air seepage to the outdoors, installing an HRV or ERV may be the best way to improve your indoor air quality and your health.

Mold – if there has ever been any flooding or water seepage into your basement, it is quite possible that you have mold growing in your home, whether you can see it or not. Mold can cause all types of allergic reactions, including nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sore eyes and asthma attacks. You may have to call in mold remediation experts to get to the root of the problem.

Allergens – it is possible that what ails you is as simple as allergens in your house. It can be difficult to pinpoint specific allergens but having a clean house free of dust, dust mites, dirt and mildew can actually improve your breathing. Have the carpets deep-cleaned with non-toxic cleaners, your air ducts cleaned by professionals and thoroughly dust the house and wash all of your window draperies and bedding regularly. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, keep woodpiles outside as dry wood can harbor many allergens.

When building or renovating your home, aside from reducing the factors that can have a negative effect on your health, you can also increase the good features by creating more opportunities for healthy home improvements such as natural light to come in, improving air flow and fresh air and adding green plants that help clean your air naturally.

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