Tuesday, January 17, 2017

4 Tips to Stop Your Home from Making You Sick

Sustainability & Human Health
Guest Blogger: Charlotte Meier

The home is an essential part of the human environment, but is sometimes overlooked when discussing environmental issues. However, the EPA has found that indoor air tends to be far more polluted than outdoor air. Sustainable and healthy building practices go hand in hand.

Here are four easy tips for keeping your home healthy from guest blogger Charlotte Meier. Charlotte enjoys collecting resources and educational materials to share with people who wish to keep their homes safe. This is what inspired her to start her website, HomeSafetyHub.

We like to think of our homes as our sanctuaries — the places we go to feel comfortable, spend time with our loved ones, and relax. Unfortunately, studies show that our homes have the potential to make us very ill, and in some cases have made people extremely ill. Health issues such as headaches, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing can indicate that your home in making you sick. If you suspect that your home is behind your family's health issues, follow our tips to prevent it from continuing to happen.

1. Have your air ducts cleaned

Many people have HVAC in their homes, and while you enjoy the perks of central air conditioning, there are health hazards that lurk in your air ducts. As your cooling system cools your home, water often is left in the ducts; these traces of water become an ideal spot for bacteria and mold growth. Microbial growth in your air ducts can lead to asthma, allergies, coughing and headaches.

Air Vent [Pixabay]

To prevent illnesses caused by your air ducts, you should enlist the help of professionals every other year or so to thoroughly clean them. These professionals also should service your heating system to help it operate more efficiently. In-between professional air duct cleanings, you should replace the filters in your HVA system to prevents dust mites and other irritants from being blown about your home.

2. Be aware of lead exposure

If your home was built after 1978, you don't have much of a risk of exposure to lead because of lead paint. But, if you have an older home with peeling or flaking paint and you have young children, you should have your lead paint texted to know your risk. If your child has any symptoms of lead poisoning, including developmental delay, learning difficulties, irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, sluggishness, fatigue, or seizures, you should contact his physician and have his blood tested for lead levels immediately. It's also a good idea to schedule an appointment with a home inspector who can identify health and safety hazards both inside and outside your home.

One modern cause of lead poisoning is burning scented candles in your home. some candle manufacturers continue to use lead wicks or wicks that have lead cores, and the candles release lead particles into the air of your home when you burn them. The dangers of burning scented candles exist for everyone in your home, but they especially are harmful to infants, small children, and pregnant women.

3. Check the humidity levels of your home

While we enjoy using essential oil diffusers and have the option of using a humidifying system with our heating system during winter to add moisture to our homes' air, adding too much humidity to your home poses risks. High humidity levels can enable the growth of mold in your home. At high humidity levels — anything above 45% — drywall can become a breeding ground for mold and enable it to grow behind your walls. The result is a hidden danger to your family that can lead to chronic sinus issues and nervous system damage. High humidity also creates ideal conditions for dust mites that cause allergic reactions, stomach problems, and sleep issues.

To lower the humidity in your home, first purchase a humidity monitor so you are aware of your humidity levels and know which actions you need to take. Always turn on vents when showering, bathing, and cooking, and allow them to run for at least 10 minutes after you finish. Open your windows during dry weather. And, stop using humidifiers and purchase dehumidifiers if you have high levels of humidity in your home.

4. Stop using dryer sheets

If your family continues to have skin irritations, respiratory problems, anxiety attacks, or irritability after you address other causes in your home including changing your cleaning supplies, your dryer sheets may be to blame. The chemicals used in dryer sheets, including toxic chemicals such as benzyl acetate, A-terpineol, camphor, ethyl acetate, and formaldehyde, lead to the short-term reactions we've already mentioned, but they can also have long-term effects on the liver, pancreas, and GI tract.

Wool dryer balls. [Vimeo]

Alternatives to dryer sheets are plentiful. Some of the best include using reusable, chemical-free dryer sheets that are made of fabrics to help prevent static, wearing natural fibers that are not prone to static cling, and using dryer balls. Dryer balls may be made of rubber, wool, or aluminum foil. People also use tennis balls as dryer balls. Dryer balls also help you reduce the amount of energy you use to run your dryer because they allow for more air to flow through the clothes and reduce the amount of drying time needed.

If you find that you have more health concerns when you are home than when you are in another locations, there is a good chance that your home is making you sick. Prevent further illnesses and health issues by having your air ducts cleaned, being aware of lead exposure, reducing your home's humidity level, and using alternatives to dryer sheets.

No comments:

Post a Comment