Friday, January 06, 2006

"Sick House Syndrome"- How to Avoid It

Although we all know that fresh air is good for us, we tend to almost always associate it with spending time outdoors. Since many of us spend most of our lives indoors, we should educate ourselves on the danger of what is called "sick-house" syndrome. This occurs when our homes, offices, etc. are sealed tightly to prevent noise, pollution, or cold air from entering. Unfortunately, this also prevents harmful fumes caused by paints, cleaning products, deodorizers and wood smoke from getting out. Your furnishings, carpeting, and clothing can emit dangerous pollutants that can rob you, your family and even your pets of good health!

Studies show that the air in our homes should be changed ten times per day - anything less causes build up of dangerous pollutants. Below are some tips to help avoid "sick-house" syndrome. First, open the windows (just a crack is sufficient) when possible, and check to make sure that all vents are unblocked.

Another problem that lack of ventilation can cause is mold and mildew. This is found to be a danger not only to your health, but it can also damage the structure of your house. Especially in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms, where humidity is likely to be high, proper ventilation is essential to avoiding toxic mold. The use of fans in these areas are helpful. If possible, try to avoid taking long hot showers as the vapor that's emitted can eventually cause mold also.

Also, check areas such as the attic, and underneath floors for proper air circulation. If you have a humidity problem upstairs, it probably means that the attic or roof space needs more ventilation. Be aware that some types of flooring can cause structural damage if there is not adequate ventilation beneath it.

We all want our homes to smell nice, and a clean, well-ventilated house will. But unpleasant odors happen, and we must not become overzealous in using artificial scents that add more pollutants to the air. Aerosols, in particular, are not eco-friendly and often contain nasty additives. Do not fall into the trap of trying to create a "fresh smelling" home by adding more chemicals to our already polluted air.

You can easily make your own room deodorizer by sprinkling a few drops of vanilla or essential oil on a cotton ball. Place this in a small open container to prevent the oil or alcohol from damaging your furniture. Other natural room fresheners to use include baking soda, white vinegar, fresh or dried herbs, or even a bowl of fresh apples. And, if you like the scent of fresh flowers, treat yourself to the real thing instead of using an artificial spray. Try to keep chemical-laced cleaners, and perfumed products to a minimum, and use natural products as much as possible.

If you or your loved ones suffer from unexplained drowsiness or a general malaise, try getting fresher air through the house. Some people are quite sensitive to mold and exhibit symptoms such as headaches, chronic coughing, inflamation of mucous membranes such as sinus problems. For more serious cases your best bet is to find a certified mold inspector or certified mold inspecting company who knows where and how to look for the dangerous mold and how to remove it if possible. There have been some houses that have been so seriously infected with mold that they had to be destroyed. Take the issue of mold and household pollutants seriously, your family and home will breath easier and you can avoid the "sick-house" syndrome.

Patricia Kirkcaldy runs the Home and Garden Decor Blog
Where you'll find Free Home and Garden Improvement
Tips and Weekly Home and Garden Show Schedules!

No comments: