Is your home harming your health?

Studies have shown that the air we breathe at home can be up to five times more polluted than the air outside. And yet we usually feel that, at home, we are in our ‘safety zone’ – pollution is something that happens outside, along with accidents and other nasty things. Well, this is not the case at all – we are more likely to have an accident or get sick at home than pretty much anywhere else. But some homes are safer than others, as their owners take precautions to make them as safe as possible for their inhabitants.

We have already mentioned the poor quality of air in our homes. A large part of the blame for this is apportioned to air conditioning units, which can provoke asthma, allergies, fatigue and respiratory problems. Researchers believe this is due to microorganisms which grow in the units. With the rise in popularity of air conditioners, we saw an equal rise in the number of reports of ‘sick building syndrome’ – people who claimed that the building they lived or worked in was responsible for making them feel sick.

On the other hand, a well-maintained air conditioning unit can have health benefits, especially in hot climates, where people can be at risk of heatstroke in buildings which are built to rely on air conditioning during the hot months, yet the air conditioning units fail for some reason, for example power failure.

So the message isn’t to stop using air conditioning, but to use it sensibly. Don’t sleep under it and make sure you keep it clean and well-maintained.

A related problem occurs in humid climates and buildings which are susceptible to damp. A restricted flow of air and damp conditions allow the buildup of mold particles on walls, in closets, on clothes and other places. These particles can pose a major threat to your family’s health if inhaled or ingested, including the possibility of pneumonia and death. It’s important to tell if your home is too humid in order to prevent this from happening. If you regularly see a buildup of condensation on your windows, notice spots of mold, especially on the ceiling and a musty odor permeating your property, you have all the signs that your home is unhealthy. Firstly, proceed to eliminate all the mold from every room. Check in corners, nooks and crannies and clean it away completely. You should definitely consider getting a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity levels at home in order to prevent this from happening again. There are many options available on the market, so check here first to see which one is right for you.

One of the most serious and deadly threats to our health at home is posed by carbon monoxide. This gas has no smell, cannot be seen and kills so quickly that, once symptoms of poisoning appear, it is often too late. It is found in combustion fumes from heating systems, stoves and gas cookers, among other appliances. If symptoms do occur, they can include headaches, nausea, weakness and disorientation. The only way to protect your family properly id to ensure that your appliances are regularly cleaned, maintained and upgraded when necessary, and to install a number of carbon monoxide alarms, which will sound when unusual amounts of the gas are detected, giving you and your family time to evacuate before severe poisoning occurs. You can place these alarms alongside smoke alarms as they both work well in similar locations, and can be easily checked and serviced together. Remember to periodically test your alarms and to keep replacement batteries in your home.

There are, of course, many more hazards to look out for at home, including loose wiring, which can cause electrocution and death, cracked pipes, which can cause a loss of water pressure and flooding, loose tiles, loose carpeting and more. If you have children, be sure to keep them away from bleach, cleaning products and medicine. Products such as insect repellants and even air fresheners can contain toxic fumes and, if you insist on using them, be sure to open windows and doors to properly ventilate your home afterwards.

By taking care of your home, you take care of you and your family’s health.