Did you know that your house can make you sick? If you are reading this, chances are that you have experienced one or more symptoms of illness and allergies inside your home. While there are many things that you can do to remedy sources of discomfort in your home, it can be prevented altogether from the start if you build a new home. Considering that the average person stays indoors 90 percent of the day, it’s important to ensure that your house doesn’t kill you.
Things in your home that make you ill
Energy efficiency is one of the main design criteria when building a modern home. Unfortunately this also means that a building that is very well-insulated will also trap irritants and pollutants inside. If your home used toxic materials in its construction, it will be in your environment permanently. Things like mold growth can also be a major health hazard, and things that can lead to that are best addressed right in the building phase. luxury vinyl tile Other things like dust can be managed in other ways.
Toxic building materials
Some common building materials contain chemicals that are hazardous to your health. Here are the most common ones:
- Vinyl: Vinyl products, such as flooring and wall coverings, contain phthalates, which are linked to several health problems.
- Paint, sealants, adhesives, etc.: All of these products often contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are released into the air. Toxicity of these can by quite high in a house with stagnant air.
- Engineered wood: Engineered wood products can contain toxic adhesives, and resins that release formaldehyde.
- Insulation: The worst offender with insulation products is foam plastic insulation, or spray foam. It can cause or worsen several respiratory conditions, including asthma and sinus congestion.
Since a well-insulated house traps all the environmental pollutants and irritants inside, it is very important to address and manage the air quality. A good quality mechanical ventilation system is a must.
Elements of a healthy house
A healthy house is ideally built from scratch, and includes non-toxic building materials and eco-friendly designs. Here are some of the design considerations that you could include in your own plans for a healthy home.
- Separate the house from the ground, and build a sealed crawlspace underneath the floor. This will prevent moisture incursion and mold growth.
- Install hardwood floors instead of engineered wood, or ceramic and stone tiles instead of vinyl flooring.
- Use paint that doesn’t contain VOCs.
- Avoid foam and fiberglass insulation. Choose products that will produce the minimum amount of off-gassing, like rock wool and damp-spray cellulose.
- Install a passive solar heating system, instead of a forced-air central heating system, as the latter can recirculate germs and toxins.
- Install a mechanical ventilation system with a good air filter, in order to prevent environmental pollutants and irritants such as pollen from entering your house.
Choose a good contractor
Just ticking all the boxes for what makes for a healthy home isn’t enough. You also need to get everything constructed and installed correctly, so be sure to choose contractors with a known reputation for good workmanship.
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