This Is How Your Home Could Be Making You Sick (And How to Fix It)

Most people are aware of environmental factors that contribute to illness. But things inside your home can make you sick, too. Read on to learn about some things that could be affecting your health and making you ill. We’ll also explore simple ways to reduce home health risks.

What’s Making You Sick?

You already know to keep harsh chemicals and solvents out of your home. But in older homes, substances like lead and some building materials can cause issues. Other potential causes of poor health at home are pet dander, mold, poor ventilation, radon gas, and pests like bugs and even dust mites. The worst part is that you might not be able to see or even smell these toxins.

How to Fix an Unhealthy Home Environment

While you can’t always control what happens outdoors, many strategies can help you clean up the inside of your home. Here are solutions to living healthier and improving indoor air quality, naturally.

Clean the Air with Prevention

Sometimes, adding deodorizers or harsh cleaning agents can worsen your health. But using natural, low-scent, or unscented cleaners helps avoid triggering allergies and other health problems. In addition to promoting natural cleaners, Seventh Generation recommends adding NASA-confirmed clean-air plants to your home décor.

Another smart preventative step is to avoid buying products that emit harmful odors and toxins. Choose paints and finishes, furniture, cabinets and countertops, textiles, mattresses, and carpets that don’t emit formaldehyde and other undesirable gases.

Add an Air Purifier to Target Impurities

For families with immune issues and severe allergies, using an air purifier can help reduce symptoms. But even if your family doesn’t have asthma or other highly visible health problems, adding an air purifier to your home can help remove odors, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and gases.

Most air purifiers feature high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. Many also use activated carbon or fabric filters, often in multiple layers, to provide the best filtration possible. HEPA filters promise to eliminate particles from the air that measure .3 microns or larger, which can be significant for preventing illness and improving air quality.

Keep Things Dry (With Better Ventilation)

Mold and mildew are often a visible source of health problems. But dampness alone can cause harm, confirms the American Lung Association, irritating the respiratory system. Excessive dampness—along with mold—can also damage your home, causing expensive and dangerous structural issues.

Natural ventilation—via windows and doors—is an excellent first step when facing damp conditions. But especially in the Pacific Northwest, wet weather in multiple seasons can mean trouble. Fortunately, spot ventilation via exhaust fans plus whole-house ventilation with fans and duct systems can help relieve health hazards related to water.

Working kitchen and bathroom vents also help prevent dampness in the wettest rooms of your home. A dehumidifier can also help, but you’ll need adequate airflow through the room for the best—and safest—results.

Install Detectors to Preserve Your Health

While most homes have smoke detectors, families need to know about other hazardous fumes. For example, carbon monoxide can often build up in homes, especially near gas appliances and in garages. Carbon monoxide detectors can provide an early warning, so you address the issue and prevent symptoms such as headache, dizziness, weakness, and worse.

Preventative maintenance on your home heating system, water heater, and other fuel-burning appliances will also help with home air quality and safety.

Though not every family tests the air quality in their home, it’s safe to say that most people routinely breathe in harmful toxins. Fortunately, with these steps, you can start breathing safer, healthier air at home in no time.


About the Author

Ginger Reid spends her time writing and searching for ways to make a positive impact on our planet.  She believes that any small changes will help cut our environmental footprint.

About Olga Lockhart

Olga Lockhart, Marketing Manager for Pathway Design & Construction, researches, analyzes, and writes about these key topics: Universal Design, Aging in Place, Northwest building & Seattle remodeling trends, air quality issues, and solutions, during construction. She's also willing to chat about travel and culture out of the office.