Ways your home could make you sick
Flu season is upon us and even though you've taken your flu shot, digested daily immune boosters and don a medical mask every time you leave the house, you're still managing to feel under the weather. But, how?
"Most of us are aware of the preventative measures we can take to protect ourselves against the germs that lurk beyond the safety of our front doors. But, many homeowners are unaware that their homes could potentially be the cause of their congestion," explains Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
"There are many hidden germs loitering around our living spaces that pose potential health risks. For starters, when was the last time you cleaned out your refrigerator? And this doesn't mean just a quick wipe-down of the door with dishwashing liquid and a sponge. To remove any potential risk of food poisoning and germs, you need to unpack and wipe down each shelf regularly, clean between the grooves of the plastic door seals with a toothbrush, and dust off the electric coil behind your freezer.
This coil, which helps ward against frost build-up, blows hot air into your home. To avoid dust particles from being blown around, you need to dust behind your refrigerator regularly," says Goslett.
Those who are prone to allergies also need to be careful what cleaning products they use. Many of the fragrance-enhancing products have negative effects on sensitive sinuses. The dye and ammonium compounds in certain products can also aggravate skin that is prone to irritations. It is better to use as many natural cleaning solutions (such as vinegar and water or baking soda) as possible when cleaning your home.
"Those living in houses built before 1980 need to ensure that there are no traces of asbestos or lead paint in their homes. These common building materials were discovered to pose severe long-term health risks and are no longer used in any form of construction. If you are currently looking at properties, it is important to inquire about this when viewing older homes," Goslett explains.
Of course, there is the common suspect that most of us know to be harmful: mould. Not all mould species are hazardous, but all mould points to dampness problems; and this poses health risks in any home. Usually found in damp places such as bathrooms or kitchens, mould can also build up in unseen places like corners that don't receive a lot of sunlight or ventilation. If you're really struggling with sinus problems and ongoing illness, it might be worth investigating the inside of your ceiling to ensure that there is no mould build-up hidden away up there. "Factors that pose a risk to our health do not only live outside our doors, but also inside our homes. Homeowners ought to take this into consideration if they want to stand any chance of defeating the odds and remaining healthy in face of the onslaught of runny noses and phlegmy coughs that await them beyond their boundary walls this flu season," Goslett concludes.