As a homeowner, you want to do whatever you can to make sure your home is safe. However, there are certain dangers you may not even be aware of until it’s too late. One of these is known as toxic house syndrome, which affects millions of homes. What is toxic house syndrome? What are the signs your home may have it? And what can you do to prevent it? Read on below to find out plenty more information that will really pay off.
What Is Toxic House Syndrome?
Before you know what to do about this very serious issue, it’s important to understand exactly what it means. Toxic house syndrome has to do with the quality of the air in your home. Because you cannot see many of the toxins in your indoor air, it’s not so easy to pay attention to. Some of the toxins that could be in your home include carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and mold spores.
This issue can also occur in offices or other buildings and is sometimes known as sick building syndrome (SBS). The Environmental Protection Agency has a thorough breakdown and explanation of this problem on their website.
What Can Lead to Toxins in the Home?
Mold can form on damp walls and window frames, as well as any old or decaying food. It’s incredibly prevalent in bathrooms.
Condensation can occur on windows in perfectly healthy homes. But if you notice condensation that doesn’t go away for some time, it could be a sign of a problem. This is due to poor ventilation, the most common culprit for this issue. But there can be other elements that lead to toxic house syndrome or make it worse.
Certain hazardous gases can occur from your kitchen. Gas and woodburning stoves can cause toxins like carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is incredibly dangerous and potentially deadly. Part of the reason it’s so hard to monitor without any help is that it’s odorless.
Carbon monoxide isn’t the only gas that can harm you. Formaldehyde, which is also colorless but does have an odor, can also be in your home. This gas is found in some insulation materials, fabrics, and manufactured wood products, such as wood furniture.
Your carpeting can have dust, mites, fungus, dirt, and other particles that can cause health issues when they build up. If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, the smoke can lead to breathing issues.
What Does Toxic House Syndrome Cause?
The reason you need to be very thoughtful about toxic house syndrome is that it has incredibly hazardous impacts on the health of you and your family. The various toxic chemicals can help contribute to serious, potentially fatal health issues such as lung cancer and heart disease. It can also lead to the development of asthma. The poor air quality is also quite bad for anyone with asthma, allergies, respiratory illnesses, or other health issues that affect breathing.
Sometimes, the symptoms caused by this problem are very similar to that of a common cold. This is another reason toxic house syndrome can be hard to notice if you aren’t aware of it. One sign may be if these types of symptoms seem to occur much more often than normal.
What Are Some Possible Symptoms?
There can be a wide range of medical issues that result from poor indoor air quality. Those similar to a common cold, allergies, or the flu are pretty common. They include headaches, a scratchy throat, itchy and watery eyes, a runny nose, nausea, sneezing, fever, and chills. Other possible symptoms include dizziness, irritability, forgetfulness, nosebleeds, hearing loss, skin rashes, and trouble breathing.
How Can Homeowners Protect Against Toxic House Syndrome?
Now that you know what toxic house syndrome is and just how seriously you need to take it, it’s time to learn what you can actually do about it.
A major step toward preventing the dangers of toxic house syndrome is to improve your home’s ventilation. If your house is damp, it will be the perfect breeding ground for mold spores, bacteria, and other toxins. Some changes you can make include adding fans to bathrooms or other more humid areas in the home. You can also replace floors or ceilings that are water-damaged. Better ventilation can also wind up saving you money on heating and cooling.
You will also have to make sure that your carbon monoxide detector is working. And if you don’t already have one, it’s absolutely necessary, even potentially lifesaving, to install.
Taking better care of your home in general will work wonders. Make sure to clean, dust, and vacuum regularly. Upgrade your cleaning products to more natural options, with low fumes and without so many fragrances or dangerous chemicals. Try to avoid harsh products like insecticides or use very, very carefully if you must.
If you’re doing a home renovation, be sure you’re not bringing any toxins. Check insulation materials, manufactured plywood, carpeting, flooring, paint, and other materials to make sure they don’t include formaldehyde or volatile organic compounds.
To keep potential outdoor toxins out, your home should have strong sealing on the windows and garage.
Take Care of Your HVAC System
Proper care and maintenance of your heating and air conditioning is absolutely essential for your home’s health. If your HVAC system uses filters, make absolutely sure you’re cleaning or replacing them as often as you’re supposed to. Usually, filters should be changed or washed every few months. When you schedule annual maintenance for your HVAC system, you will take a major step toward preventing toxic house syndrome. Experts can also inspect for any potential concerning signs or dangers. For instance, they can check if your ductwork has any leaks. And if there are leaks, they can fix them.
For your air quality needs, turn to us at Entek. In addition to homes, we also provide service in commercial buildings. So, if you think your business may have sick building syndrome, you can ask us about that as well. We’ve been serving the Pacific Northwest area for over seven decades, so you know you can count on our experience, expertise, and quality of service. You can find out more information on our website.