Is your home making you or a family member sick? Or maybe you are just not feeling right? Or just uncomfortable and edgy? Lots of people are not feeling well, and are looking for remedies, or going to doctors and being medicated, when in fact, the chief cause of their illnesses could be right inside their home.
Right now lets look at what kinds of health issues and symptoms can be associated with unhealthy homes
More than 2 million Texans have problems with asthma. Asthma is a debilitating disease. Asthma is an extreme reaction but many other medical issues are related to issues of allergens and contaminants in the home.
Lets make sure we clarify the term allergen. Allergen is defined as a harmless substance that our individual bodies have an auto immune reaction to and these allergic reactions make us sink and miserable.
Then our homes can also be contaminated with substances that are not harmless and cause our bodies to react and make us sick. This is kind of a confusing boundary issue here- and so we will ignore it, just concentrating on stuff that makes us miserable that is related to the health of our homes.[stextbox id=”info” caption=”While this page is focused on allergens and contaminants that make you feel sick and miserable, it must be remembered that some contaminants are toxic yet your body gives no hint as to the danger to your family ” bwidth=”2″]Contaminants do not even have to be allergens. They might not give any hint of physical distress until conditions progress to serious illness. Make sure you check through the list of unhealthy contaminants that can grow, that can find access to or that we carry into our homes in North Texas. [/stextbox]
The video below does a great job of detailing the kinds of illnesses associated with pollutants in the home.
This video references flooding conditions in the midWest at some time in the past, but it is a vivid demonstration of the health effects of mold. These same effects can be created by leaks into the house through the “weather barrier” and in homes with issues with too much moisture and high humidity.
How do we separate the impact of our homes on how we are feeling from illness and misery not related to our homes?
We cannot depend on repeatable patterns of how we react to allergens. The reaction can be immediate, and you can instantly be aware of the reaction. This was my reaction to bucking hay bales as a kid- you played with hay, you started to sneeze… but allergens can affect you after a single exposure- irritate your eyes, nose, and throat, or impact you years or months later as some sort of threshold is crossed.
Or you can live with the existing conditions in a home for years, and then suddenly an issue arises, and so why would you think your home might be involved?
There are two steps to insuring our our home are making a minimal impact on our health.
1. We need to make sure our home does not have issues with leaks that generate issues with mold and rot and make sure our home structure and our mechanical systems are able to properly control the humidity that lets biological contaminants invade our lives and make us miserable. . The first line of defense is a healthy house that controls moisture and humidity levels well.
Here is a diagram you will see around this site a lot. It says so much about the importance of humidity and its relationship to the comfort of your home.[stextbox id=”info” caption=”Understanding the fundamentals of air leakage and humidity and sound and effective HVAC systems is critical to making homes healthy.” bwidth=”2″] You can start with understanding the structural foundational issues, or start with understanding the HVAC issues which can create an unhealthy house. . We must understand the fundamentals of air leakage, humidity and proper functioning HVAC mechanical equipment to have a proper perspective on real solutions and not just the trivial pursuit of symptoms. . [/stextbox]
2. We need to analyze our homes for contaminants and clarify our homes role and our personal role, in contaminants gaining access to our home and our indoor air. While high humidity plays a role in how other contaminansts impact us- the actual origin of the contaminants need to be understood and assessed for action. . There are a wide range of issues to be aware of. Is My Home Healthy? My Indoor Air Safe?
I am not a doctor, so me going on about personal medical issues caused by indoor pollutants is a stretch,
but my purpose is to emphasize to you that dealing with the issues of too much moisture in the house, and paying careful attention to where you get your indoor air, and what kinds of pollutants are in your house, or get into your house and how they do- may not completely cure such symptoms, but are foundational issues and must be eliminated as pragmatically as possible, to find the critical path to feeling better.
Here is a final quote from the EPA on indoor air quality[stextbox id=”info” caption=”A caveat on some of the information offered on this page… ” bwidth=”2″]This EPA webpage is an excellent resource that goes into great detail about potential pollutants in your home. The solutions for solving the foundational issues in this article are pretty weak and need to be ignored. Caulking and not knowing what needs sealing, is,at best, a waste of time. Adding loose fill insulation to walls does not help much with air leakage. Air leaks pass right through loose fill insulations. BUT the information on actual indoor pollutants is useful and cogent.[/stextbox]
Symptoms of some diseases, including asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier fever, may also show up soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants.
The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors. Age and preexisting medical conditions are two important influences. In other cases, whether a person reacts to a pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies tremendously from person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological pollutants after repeated exposures, and it appears that some people can become sensitized to chemical pollutants as well.
Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases, so it is often difficult to determine if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air pollution. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to the time and place the symptoms occur. If the symptoms fade or go away when a person is away from the home and return when the person returns, an effort should be made to identify indoor air sources that may be possible causes. Some effects may be made worse by an inadequate supply of outdoor air or from the heating, cooling, or humidity conditions prevalent in the home.
Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable. More information on potential health effects from particular indoor air pollutants is provided in the section, ”
While pollutants commonly found in indoor air are responsible for many harmful effects, there is considerable uncertainty about what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary to produce specific health problems. People also react very differently to exposure to indoor air pollutants. Further research is needed to better understand which health effects occur after exposure to the average pollutant concentrations found in homes and which occur from the higher concentrations that occur for short periods of time. –
Lets Figure Out Whether Your Home has Health Issues and What to do about it.
You can take a multi-pronged approach to identifying whether we have home issues and, if we do, a path towards solving these problems. This website approaches this problem through the lens of your home potentially having environmental problems creating health issues
This website keeps pushing you toward links along a path of making our home healthy utilizing building science and dealing with fundamental issues. We would like you to pursue by your own path a fundamental approach to a healthy home.
And lastly, we all need a reminder of what to avoid
There is a whole industry that depends on sick and desperate people to buy panaceas for better home air quality… Now not all of them are snake oil, but quite often making the sale looms much larger than just how well the solution fits your actual needs. Too many solutions talk about comprehensive solution but they are a band-aid that treats symptoms rather than the actual issue causing the problem We offer our guide for services that you probably do not want to buy,
Feel free to add your thoughts below.