Is Your Home Making You Sick?

Now is the perfect time to look at a few things in and around your home that could be causing you season allergies and colds. This article comes from The Spruce.

Is Your Home Making You Sick?

Our homes are supposed to be a safe haven where we can rest and renew to face an outside world of dangers and stress. Unfortunately, there are hazards in your home that you may not even see that can be making you sick.

Even if you are not sick right now, all of these problems should be addressed if you have small children or anyone living in your home with a compromised respiratory or immune system.

1. Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew spores are found in nearly every climate around the world. But in warm, humid environments, like our bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements, the spores can grow and multiply to create a colony that can be hazardous to your health. Most mold in homes is a surface mold like mildew, while others can be black or green mold that will penetrate the structure of your home making it unstable.

All types of mold are irritants to respiratory systems and can cause huge problems for those with compromised immune systems. That’s why it is so important to identify and remove mold from every surface of your home.

2. Air Conditioning and Heating

In our quest for comfort, most homes use a central heating and cooling system (HVAC). And, to keep the cost of using the system, we’ve made our homes more energy-efficient by sealing leaky doors and windows. While this is ideal for our wallets, it can be hazardous to our health especially for those with respiratory illnesses.

HVAC systems do not pull in the fresh air, it simply filters and recycles indoor air leaving any toxins inside. These can include cigarette smoke, radon gas, mold, cleaning chemicals, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide. In many homes, indoor air can be more polluted than the air outdoors.

For homes that use room air conditioners, they are often sources of mold and mildew spores unless the filters and vents are cleaned frequently. Fireplaces and space heaters also emit particles that are irritants to respiratory systems.

To improve the air quality in your home:

  • Bring in some fresh air by opening windows and doors when possible.
  • Use vent fans to pull out indoor air when bathing or cooking.
  • Limit the use of toxic cleaning chemicals.
  • Ban indoor smoking of any type.
  • Install an air-to-air heat exchange system.

3. Bathrooms

Bathrooms are small spaces that are filled with heat and humidity that promotes mold growth, human body soil and waste, and chemicals from personal care and cleaning products. Health hazards lurk on nearly every surface and in the air.

The biggest health dangers come from:

  • Improper cleaning and hand washing that leaves bacteria like E.coli and viruses on surfaces.
  • Cross-contamination from shared use of towels and bathmats that can spread bacteria and fungi like athlete’s foot.
  • The use of harsh cleaning chemicals, spray air fresheners, candles and , oil diffusers and limiting fresh air.
  • Poor water quality.

4. Living Rooms

The living room or family room gets lots of use by everyone in the house and guests. We snack there, play with pets there, put our feet up to rest there, and handle lots of remote controls to control entertainment systems. It’s a place to gather and share everything, including bacteria.

One of the biggest culprits in the living room are those remote controls. Does everyone have clean hands? Lots of illness-producing bacteria and viruses can cling to those surfaces. Take time to clean them with a disinfectant wipe approved for electronics.

The next biggest issues are outside contaminants and dust. Having everyone remove their shoes at the door will prevent outside problems from entering. Using a good vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly and dusting often will keep allergens under control.

5. Bedrooms

Bedrooms are where we retire to rest and restore our bodies. Unfortunately, they are filled with dangers that not only affect your sleep but also your health.

The biggest culprit is your bedding. Pillows and mattresses that are not cleaned properly are filled with particles of the skin cells we shed and the dust mites that feed on that skin. The mites can produce a severe allergic reaction for many. Sheets that are not washed often and correctly contain bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli that can cause infections and spread illness.

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