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It’s More Than Allergies | The Chemicals In Your House Are Making You Sick

May 27, 2014

Do you have seasonal allergies and notice that even while taking your allergy medication you still feel awful at home? Perhaps there is something lurking in your house that is causing you to feel this way, and it wasn’t just your allergies.

Is your house making you sick?

There are lots of things in your home that you know to watch out for, like poor lighting or a crack in the foundation.  But what about the hazards you can’t see?  Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals in the air that are given off from products like furniture and flooring or by activities like cooking, painting, or cleaning.  Actively growing mold can also produce VOCs as part of the mold’s digestion, or growth, process.  These VOCs can cause a number of symptoms such as respiratory irritation, itchy/watery eyes or throat, skin irritation, headaches, lethargy, mental confusion, or numbness in the extremities, as well as more serious conditions.  VOCs can also exacerbate existing medical conditions such as asthma and allergies, leading to an increase in the frequency and severity of symptoms.

Many people have an air purifier in their home, like a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, that removes particulates and think they are safeguarding their family.  This type of air purifier is great for removing things like dust and pollen but doesn’t affect the VOCs at all.  Air purifiers or cleaners that reduce VOCs typically also have a HEPA filter or some other means of removing particulates, making a combined VOC and particulate air purifier a better choice.

8 VOC sources in your house causing you to feel ill:

1.       Mold growth due to a water or moisture problem

2.       Tobacco smoke

3.       Scented products – air fresheners, candles, cleaning products

4.       Cleaning supplies  – harsh or improperly stored

5.       Personal care products

6.       Formaldehyde

7.       Garage/Basement storage – gasoline, paints, cleaners

8.       Recent renovation – painting, new materials, solvents

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be wise to test your home using a VOC and Formaldehyde Test Kit. Click here to learn more about VOCs!