Word on Health

Word On Toxic Home Syndrome

We are grateful to Professor Peter Howarth, Professor of Allergy and Respiratory medicine at Southampton University for his input and the people behind the the website www.myhealthmyhome.com for bringing the information below to our attention.   

Results from an exclusive Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) home study reveal UK households are at risk of experiencing aggravated health problems due to poor air quality inside the home. 

The independent study tested the air quality in British homes; analysing the level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) present in the air. Out of the 122 homes tested in the UK, only 9% were considered in the normal category of recommended level of pollutant concentration, with the remaining 91% of homes above the recommended level (2) 

“At the normal level, non-chemically sensitive individuals should not experience health issues from VOCs. As the TVOC level increases into the moderate, elevated or severe levels, individuals may experience aggravated health problems, and therefore, the need to address VOC issues becomes more critical” says indoor air quality expert Tim Robinson.

Mould is one of the key factors of poor indoor air quality and health risk. According to a new YouGov consumer survey, 58% of respondents have experienced mould or condensation in their home; with 19% of those have already suffered from a respiratory or dermatological condition while the remaining 81% could be at risk (3). 

With winter fast approaching, condensation and mould become more prominent as we close windows and make our homes more airtight. Moulds release allergens, irritants and toxic substances that have been linked to immune system disorders such as asthma and allergies (1). Other pollutants released by items around the home – such as fireplaces, candles, air fresheners, textiles, furniture, cleaning products paint and detergents (3) - add to this, creating  a potent ‘pollutant soup’ in the home. 

Speaking offf microphone Peter Howarth told us, “There is a lot of noise about how outdoor air pollution affects your health, but we should look closer to home as this is where we spend most of our time. Indoor air can be more hazardous than outdoor air, particularly in young children and the elderly and where air quality is poorest. ‘Toxic home syndrome’ occurs when families are exposed to a potent mix of airborne pollutants arising from poor home ventilation, causing respiratory and skin diseases to occur more frequently.”   

Top Tips for a Healthy Home

1 - Look into different ventilation options such as household mechanical ventilation systems which provide clean air or extractor fans. The bathroom is the most common place in the home where condensation builds up so it is essential that it is properly ventilated to reduce the risk of mould spores growing.

2 -Use eco friendly cleaning products - some everyday cleaning products contain chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can be dangerous for your respiratory health.

3 -Consider wood flooring - carpets can harbour dust, dirt, dander, bacteria and cleaning products which can be hard to get out and release potentially harmful substances into the air, worsening your indoor air quality.

4 -Dry your washing outside otherwise make sure your windows are open if you have to dry it inside to reduce VOC levels indoors.

5 -Take your shoes off at the door so pollen, dirt, soil etc from outdoors is not spread around your home.

For more information on ‘Toxic Home Syndrome’, expert advice and top tips or to find out if your health and home is at risk visit www.myhealthmyhome.com  

References

1 Camfil Farr (2012) Clean Air is a Human Right Report.

2 Prism & Waverton Analytics (2013) IAQ Home Study.

3 YouGov Consumer Survey (2014) Air Quality. 

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.