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Ways Our Homes Make Us Sick – and What to Do About It

If you worry your home is making you sick, you might be onto something. Our homes can secretly contain chemicals, toxins, pathogens, and microbes that can’t be seen with the human eye. However, when these toxic dangers are present in your home in large enough quantities, they can wreak havoc on your family’s health. So here are some tips to keep your family safe, courtesy of RTK Environmental Group.

Ways Your Home Might Be Making You Sick

health symptoms moldFirst, we need to cover the basics. Illness due to exposure to household triggers is so common that there are even specific terms for it, such as “sick building syndrome.” Sick building syndrome describes an illness which seems to be linked to time spent in a particular building, especially when no other underlying cause of the illness can be determined.

Although we typically associate sick building syndrome with the workplace, it can apply to our homes as well. Recent studies have named it a health hazard because it is occurring with increased frequency.

Similar to sick building syndrome, “building related illnesses” include diagnosable symptoms that can be directly traced back to a specific culprit within the building. This might include airborne contaminants such as mold, formaldehyde, asbestos, pollutants, allergens, or potentially cancer-causing chemicals and toxins. If you suspect that you will be exposed to any of these irritants, ensure that you wear a protective mask. This is doubly important if you plan to be cleaning up any of these harmful products, as interacting with them can cause them to become airborne.

Toxic mold is one of the most common airborne contaminants linked to building related illnesses. Mold spores produce mycotoxins which, if inhaled, may cause physical symptoms ranging from allergies and asthma to pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. People with compromised immune systems are also susceptible to systemic mold infections.

Here’s What You Can Do About It

Some easy home repairs reduce illnesses by removing black mold, toxins, chemicals, allergens, or pollutants from your home. You could also hire a trained professional to check your indoor ventilation for adequate air flow, or to test the air in your home for factors such as black mold or cancer-causing chemicals. Afterwards, make any home repairs as needed.

If you’re worried about paying for home repairs, refinancing your home could give you an injection of cash that you can use for home improvement projects. Before refinancing, research the cost to refinance, lenders, and loan types.

Additionally, keep your home clean and dry to reduce dust, mold, and other natural allergens. Frequently wash your sheets and pillowcases to remove contaminants. Don’t allow friends or relatives to smoke inside your home. Purchase a high-quality vacuum with a HEPA filter. Another tip is to leave your shoes at the door, which reduces the toxins, allergens, and pollutants you’ll track into your home. 

A Green Home is a Healthy Home

Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms, there are several other ways to take your health into your own hands. For instance, you might purchase an air purifier to remove contaminants from the air you breathe in your home. You could also invest in an at-home water filtration system to ensure your water is clean and purified.

Read labels before purchasing products, and try to opt for chemical-free, toxin-free household items, including cleaning products. During trips to the grocery store, opt for organic, GMO-free, “green” and all natural products whenever possible.

Products or Building Materials to Avoid

Whether you’re searching for a new home or making some renovations, you should avoid potentially harmful products or building materials. These include (but are not limited to) chemical sealants, harmful plastics, and insulation fibers that have been linked to cancer.

The illnesses caused by sick building syndrome often make us sicker over time. Unfortunately, many people are living with chronic illnesses that aren’t properly treated because they don’t realize their home could be the underlying cause for their illness.

Sometimes, all it takes is a few simple household adjustments to completely eliminate symptoms. By taking proactive action before you start experiencing symptoms, and by following the tips listed above whether you are sick or not, you can make your home cleaner and greener. A few simple product switches and lifestyle adjustments can go a long way in keeping your family home safe, healthy, and happy for years to come.

For your commercial or residential environmental testing needs, contact RTK Environmental Group today!

70% of homes are estimated to have mold behind walls. (Harvard EDU)

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