Things in your home that can make you sick

Your home should be your safe place, where you can finally take a deep breath and relax after a long hard day. But these common household items may be putting your body under strain, forcing your immune system to work overtime.

You may not suspect it, but curtains act like giant nets that catch mould spores, dust mites and pet dander that may be floating around your home. Each time you open and close them you are releasing these allergens into the air around you. Wash your curtains on a high heat if possible, or opt to install blinds instead.

Most of us know that mould isn’t good for us, but it may be hiding in more places around your home that you realise. Mould is more common in older homes and in humid climates. You can often see it trying to grow in wet areas such as the edge of your shower or kitchen sink but it can also live in your walls, roof and plumbing. While mould spores can give people a cough, runny nose and sore throat, it can cause serious lung infections in people with weak immune systems or mould allergies.

While humidifiers can have health benefits and are great for your skin, if humidity gets too high in your home it can attract and breed mould, fungi, bacteria and germs. As a general rule, don’t let humidity climb above 50 per cent in your home. You’ll also want to wash and dry your humidifier regularly to prevent mould from growing within and being spread by it.

Heating and air conditioning
These systems are your best friend during summer and winter, but when was the last time you changed their filters? Mould can also build up inside of air ducts, and they can spread dust and debris around your home if they’re not cleaned regularly.

Was your house built before 1978? If so, it may be painted in a lead-based paint, both inside and out. When this paint begins to chip, crack or peel, the dust can damage your internal organs and brain. If you’re concerned that your home may be painted in a lead-based paint, have a professional come to your home and assess it.

There’s nothing better than getting home after a long day, kicking off your boots and feeling soft carpet beneath your feet – until you learn what it’s hiding. Carpet can be made and installed using dangerous chemicals, which can be released when you walk over it. It’s also a hiding place for allergens, dust and mould spores. WedMD doesn’t advise carpet for people who are sensitive to allergens and recommends vacuuming your carpet with a HEPA filter vacuum three times a week and steam cleaning it once a year.

Cleaning products
If you feel a little dizzy or even nauseous after cleaning the bathroom, you’re not the only one. Common household cleaning products can cause headaches, irritate your eyes and throat and even make it harder to breathe. Some cleaning products such as bleach and ammonia can cause harm to the lungs and skin if they aren’t handled appropriately. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) can be found in some aerosols, cleaning products and fragrances and can be harmful when inhaled.

To avoid harm, wear gloves, a mask and eyewear when handling cleaning products, and always clean with the windows and doors open for air flow.

Do any of these hidden dangers surprise you? Have you ever lived in a home with a mould problem?

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Written by Liv Gardiner


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