Home Is Where The Fresh Air Is
The best thing about moving into a new home is that you’re starting fresh – and so is the air inside the home! At least, that’s what we hope.
When it comes to keeping the air healthy inside the home, the process begins as early as during the construction process. When you being planning a home, you should automatically start considering the quality of your indoor air – after all, that’s where you’re likely to spend the most time!
The problem is, during this phase – and just after construction (and this applies to renovations as well), the quality of your air is at its worst and in fact, it’s up to 5 times worse than the levels of pollution that are OUTSIDE the home! Shocking, isn’t it?
Of course if you’re renovating your home, you have to consider things like asbestos and lead. We’ve talked about both of these before, but just to recap:
Asbestos was once used to cover the pipes in our homes, then it was used in floors and ceiling tiles. Anyone who has a home older than 20 years, probably has asbestos somewhere in the structure. It depends on where you live and in some countries is isn’t considered a huge deal if you’re just living in the home, but it is dangerous and most first world countries now insist that if you have asbestos found in your home, you have to get it professionally removed. The biggest problem with asbestos is that if it’s disturbed, you run the risk of breathing in asbestos particles which has been proven to lead to cancers and respiratory problems.
Lead: Like asbestos, lead isn’t used anymore in building homes in the first world, but if you are living in a home that was built before the 1980s there is a good chance you actually have lead in your paint. And again, if its left alone there is usually not much harm it can cause, but if you are renovating and happen to knock out some lead-painted walls, you risk a few different health effects. Lead has been known to cause decreased kidney function, problems with reproductive systems and higher blood pressure in adults, and learning difficulties and behavioural problems in children – among other things.
New Home Dangers
As I mentioned already, asbestos and lead are pretty dangerous – but if you’re building a NEW home, you don’t have to worry too much about them. There are plenty of alternatives these days, and your contractors aren’t likely to be buying anything with either of these for the build.
But that doesn’t mean new homes are without any danger! And there are actually a number of chemicals or toxins that could pollute the air during the construction phase – affecting your health in the short and long term. From feeling dizzy to experience allergy symptoms in the short term, to heart disease and cancer in the long term.
So what is it exactly that causes these problems, and how you can you prevent them?
The Air We Breathe
The most obvious one is carbon monoxide which is produced by anything operated on gas or fuel – including your car or any machinery being used on site, your gas stove or oven, and even your fireplace. If you have a home that has a garage attached, the chances of exposure are high – so when designing your home, you might consider a separate garage to limit the amount of carbon your family breathes in.
Another common culprit is formaldehyde which is found in a lot of the materials your builder might be using – such as the plywood or any wood being used to make your counters, shelving and cupboards. During the construction phase the fibres in this type of pressed wood can be disturbed through cutting and sawing – and can end up airborne, and into the throat, nose and eyes. If you ensure this type of work is completed by workmen who have the right protective equipment on, and that it is done well before you move into the home; there will be less chance of exposure.
Depending on the weather, the type of environment you’re building in, and a few other factors – there are actually some biological contaminants that can cause problems around the home before and after you move in. This includes the usual culprits that are also going to be hanging around AFTER you move in, such as mould and mildew. Ensure your workers keep an eye on any parts of the building that could present a problem, and if there is rain or snow around – make sure everything is fully dry before they continue on the project. That way you can ensure they aren’t just covering up something that could cause you and your family health problems well into the future.
The final thing that could impact on the quality of your indoor air in your new home is the volatile organic compounds. Known as VOCs, these are the solvents used to make your house look amazing. From the stains on your wooden floorboards, to oil based paints on your cupboards and walls, adhesives – even your carpet glue! All of these things have been linked to various health ailments, from simple eye irritation, through to liver damage. Although most of these things are unavoidable, once construction is complete, ensure you leave your home plenty of time to air out a little before you move in.
Although moving into a new home is exciting, you need to consider your health as well and the quality of your indoor air is paramount for this. Consider the above things and you’ll be breathing easier in your brand new house in no time.