Collect this idea
Beware of toxic buildup in your home. Image Via: CTA Architects Engineers

Beware of toxic buildup in your home. Image Via: CTA Architects Engineers

Toxins are a tricky subject. Many people discuss them without knowing exactly what they are or what they do.

Unfortunately, some of the things that we fill our homes with are full of toxic chemicals. Over time, exposure to those things can unknowingly contribute to making you and your loved ones sick.

We’ve outlined some of the most common factors in your home that can lead to toxic build up. Use this as a guide when you purchase products for your family and you’ll have a jumpstart towards keeping everyone healthy.

Collect this idea
The best homes are both stylish and healthy. Image via: South County Post & Beam, Inc.

The best homes are both stylish and healthy. Image Via: South County Post & Beam, Inc.

What Are Toxins?

The concept of toxins can be fairly broad, so before we start discussing them at length, it’s best to start on the same page. At their most broad definition, toxins are classified as any chemicals, whether plant or animal based, that can make humans sick.

In particular, when discussing toxins in your home, most often it is in regards to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), which a study by the National Institute of Heath has classified as “acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building.”

Though the symptoms of SBS vary from person to person and can include anything from sore throat to runny nose and itchy eyes, there is one unifying factor. They are recurring and usually worsen after an hour or two spent in the building.

Collect this idea

SBS symptoms worsen as the time spent at home increases. Image Via: Cheryl Burke Interior Design

Learn About Building Materials

Like most things, the knowledge we have about building materials has expanded over time. Unfortunately, this means that some of the construction materials that were commonly used in the past have now been found to be toxic. If you and your family are in the market for an older home, be sure to do your research.

Some of the most common structural toxins are:

  • Asbestos: Asbestos was used as insolation from 1920-1978, but has now been found to contribute to lung cancer. It must be tested and removed by a professional for your safety.
  • Radon: Radon is an invisible gas that also can cause cancer. It’s attributed to structural changes in the area such as new construction and can be remedied.
  • Lead: Lead paint was often used in homes before 1978. If you live in an older home, keep an eye on young children and animals who may be prone to ingesting paint flakes.
  • Mold: Mold is mostly likely the cause of a leakage and/or recurring moisture. I can be cleaned or removed, depending on the type and extent of damage.

Luckily, most of these occurrences can be tested for and all four are required to be disclosed by law. Make sure to include them in your home inspection contingencies and negotiate accordingly before heading to the settlement table.

Collect this idea

Remember to include construction material tests in your inspection contingencies. Image Via: Degnan Design Group

Focus On Your Furniture

Once you’re in your home, the items that you choose to fill it with are just as critical to your family’s health as the walls that surround them. In particular, the furniture that you decide upon is at risk for being a potential hazard.

The issue resides mainly in the cushions of some of your favorite cushy sofas and chairs. According to an article published by the New York Times, many of the chemicals used to make sure that these pieces are flame retardant have been found to be cancerous – and we breath them in every day.

Our couches aren’t the only guilty party however. Harsh chemicals are often used in paints and coatings on metal pieces. The simple solution is just to do your homework before buying. Read up on manufacturing practices and do your best to purchase the most naturally produced items possible.

Collect this idea
Natural furniture is always your best bet. Image Via: Diane Bergeron Interiors

Natural furniture is always your best bet. Image Via: Diane Bergeron Interiors

Banish Harsh Household Products

The last step to battling toxic buildup in your home is to tackle your cleaning products. After all, you’ll be using them to keep your home spic and span for as long as you live in the property, so you want to make sure that you’re using the safest and most gentle solutions possible.

Many of the common cleaning products that are household names are comprised of harsh and potentially harmful chemical solutions, especially those that are labeled as disinfectants. When shopping, read labels and do your best support companies that sell natural or environmentally-friendly solutions.

If you’re opposed to paying the slightly higher price tag that often comes with these green brands, it is possible to DIY your own versions at home. Sites like Pinterest offer tons of recipes that let you clean your home naturally and safely.

Collect this idea

Clean your home with non-abrasive products whenever possible. Image Via: Heydt Designs

Your home is supposed to function as your family’s safe haven from the outside world. It only makes since that you would want to keep that environment as healthy as possible for you and your loved ones. The above article outlines some of the possible hazardous toxins in your home. Check it out and keep it in mind throughout your homeownership. At Freshome, we want to help all of our readers stay happy and healthy.

Have you ever experienced Sick Building Syndrome? Do you take potentially toxic chemicals into account when purchasing? Let us know in the comments below.