As a healthy home expert, it is my job to help physicians and clients understand the relationship that our homes play into our overall health and wellness. When we examine homes around the country, we find that homes that have mold problems, animals, clutter & dust, chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers are associated with homeowners that have health complaints. Physicians are now using our services to test homes for contaminants to better understand the relationships that exist between how we live and our wellness. In public health, we know that 90% of our health is determined by genetics, environment, socioeconomic status and behaviors. That is why examining our living spaces is so important to understanding our health and wellness
As an inspector, many of the things that can lead to symptoms in our homes are not visible to the naked eye. Mold spores, animal dander, pet proteins, dust mites, VOCs, pesticides can either be hidden or undetectable to our vision. Only through testing can you know if levels are too high or if these invisible invaders could be affecting your body. Many of these items can promote inflammation to the human body and how that affects us is still to be determined. One thing we know for sure is if you are experiencing unexplained health complaints, e.g. headaches, sinus infections, achy joints, digestion problems, etc., testing your home for toxins may be a good place to start to look for answers.
Two of my most important recommendations for homes is to test for mold and test your water. Both can impact your wellness and can be expensive to fix if you are buying a home and are unaware of the problem prior purchase. You can easily test for both and can save yourself time and money, knowing what you have in your home prior to moving in or not moving in depending on what you uncover.
We often look for mold in homes, because it can do many things that can cause problems in the body. Molds are comprised of protein which can cause inflammation, they produce MVOCs which are like chemicals (you may be familiar with VOCs from paints well molds produce chemicals too) and they can produce mycotoxins if they are “toxic” molds. This trifecta of skills make molds of concern to our health. Though most studies indicate respiratory and asthma as concerns for mold, the verdict is still out on their overall effects on our immune systems. To make sure your home is safe, test for mold every 3-5 years. It can be hidden in walls or behinds showers and kitchens places you cannot detect with your eye. There are DIY mold kits that are very reliable for this application. www.examinair.net
After scares like the one in Flint Michigan, it should be apparently obvious that we should all be testing our water. Whether you have a well or public water, contaminants can creep in and could potentially lead to health effects. You can hire a company like ours, www.healthyhomeexpert.com to test your water or we also recommend a water testing lab http://www.ntllabs.com/. Either way testing is important and a must do! Carcinogenic compounds like arsenic, radon, radio activity can all make their way into your water supply, as well as pesticides, fertilizers and VOCs (chemicals). Additionally, heavy metals like lead, high nitrates and more recently boron, have all been linked to health effects of various kinds and can be found in your water.
Many times, I hear clients say, “I do not drink my water”. Remember, your skin is your largest bodily organ and you bathe in water every day. Your skin absorbs in those chemicals, just as much as drinking if not more. Studies suggest that items placed on the skin can be absorbed into the blood stream in 26 seconds or less. It is important to know what is in your water and your potential exposures. Especially since you bathe and shower in your water every day. We recommend testing your water every 3 years to ensure safety and quality.
For more information how to test your home and to see if your home is healthy, visit our website at www.healthyhomeexpert.com.
Caroline Blazovsky is nationally recognized as America’s Healthy Home Expert ® She is a media personality as well as being chosen as a leading health and safety professional in 2016. With over 16 years of experience, she is a council- certified Mold Remediator (CMR), and Indoor Environmentalist (CIE). She is a graduate Sustainable Design educational background from Boston Architectural College. She is also credentialed through the National Environmental Health Association as a Healthy Homes Specialist (HHS). Caroline is a member of the ACAC, NEHA, IAQA, as well as serving on the national IAQA Public Education committee. She resides as President of My Healthy Home® LLC, a company specializing in indoor air quality products and services.