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What Is Toxic House Syndrome And What Can I Do About It?

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What Is Toxic House Syndrome And What Can I Do About It?

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Apr 11, 2016

More than 15 million homes are affected by Toxic Building Syndrome in the UK alone, so what is it, how does it affect you and what can you do about it?

What is Toxic House Syndrome?

Essentially Toxic Building Syndrome is where the air quality in your home or office is so bad that it can affect the health of those inside. You see you might think you’re breathing clean air, but in fact the air inside your home can have more than 900 harmful chemicals and organisms in it, which you simply cannot see. Everything from carbon monoxide to mould spores can form part of TBS and they all have their own, hugely detrimental, effects on your health.

These chemicals can contribute to heart disease, cancer and can even be fatal in their own right, so if you are living with Toxic Building Syndrome then you owe it to yourself and your family to do something about it. If anyone in the house suffers coughing fits, has constantly watery eyes, tiredness, headaches or fits of dizziness and sneezing then you should not write off the symptoms as them simply being sensitive to the environment. One member of your family might be suffering more than the others, but it’s a sign that something simply is not right. 

The tragic fact is that most of these 15.3 million homes currently suffering from TBS, according to The Daily Mail, could be fixed with improved ventilation. That is all it takes in a good number of cases to fix the underlying issue and bring the air quality up to a safe level. 

Essentially the air circulating around your home can be relatively clean, or it can be laden with toxic material. If you see signs of mould in your bathroom, or even if you don’t, then every time you take a shower you could be flushing a fresh wave of mould spores through the house. This can have a hugely detrimental effect on a child or old person’s breathing, in particular, as mould is known to exacerbate symptoms of asthma or cause other breathing difficulties that can develop into serious lung disease. 

What causes Toxic Home Syndrome?

A damp house is a breeding ground for bacteria and harmful organic matter, which can wreak havoc with your respiratory system and is simply a haven for infections and illness. If you are suffering from damp then it is essential to tackle the root cause of the problem and ensure that your home has proper ventilation. 

Volatile Organic Compounts, meanwhile, which include Benzene and Acetaldehyde, can be given off every time you put a load of washing on and drying the clothes inside can have serious health implications. Many of us live without outside space and simply don’t have an option to dry clothes outside, so we have to live with the health implications, but it comes at a price. 

Wood burning fireplaces are another source of pollution as particle pollution can cause massive respiratory problems when breathed in sufficient amounts. Carbon Monoxide poisoning can often be traced back to an open fire with inadequate ventilation, too, as well as faulty central heating systems. This form of blood poisoning effectively suffocates people, quickly or over time, and can be fatal in extreme cases. 

How bad is Toxic Home Syndrome?

The World Health Organisation has pinpointed environmental pollution as a serious contributing factor to diseases and there have even been calls for a ‘Healthy Home Mark’ to be brought in that could be as important as energy efficiency when it comes to people’s decision to buy a home. Envirovent is fully behind this initiative and believes that everyone has a right to breathe clean air. 

As to how bad your house is, there are a number of tests and outside agencies can come in to assess the quality of your air. If someone is suffering in your house, though, that is generally the clearest indicator that you need to take action.

What can you do to combat the effect?

Continuous ventilation is the most effective way to combat Toxic Building Syndrome and Envirovent offers a number of systems to achieve that goal. In the case where a single room is causing a large amount of the pollution, such as a bathroom or utility room, then a proper extraction unit such as the Cyclone 7 extract fan can work wonders to cut down the levels of condensation or damp in your house. 

For more substantial properties or for simply wider spread issues, you might have to consider a whole house ventilation system, which can be controlled through an intelligent system that can be fitted in the loft, a wall space or behind a kitchen unit. 

There are a variety of slimline solutions that can be connected in a modular fashion, and can even combine with a heat recovery system to extract the heat from the damp and unpleasant air you are removing and use it to heat fresh air taken from the outside. Adequate ventilation does not have to mean that your heating bills go through the roof, quite the opposite in fact. A well designed house with a proper whole house ventilation system can reduce the moisture in the air making your home feel warmer without turning the heating up. 

What are the benefits?

A house with a whole house ventilation system won’t just have better air quality. It will also smell better, as that musty smell that is a common feature in so many homes will simply become a thing of the past. Condensation on the windows will no longer be an issue so you won’t have to wipe them down every morning or face pools of water on the window sills. 

The house will also feel warmer, as all that moisture in the air can literally suck the heat from your house, so the bills will actually decrease and amortise the cost of the ventilation system over the length of ownership. Plus The Lifetime Range® products have been designed for longevity and are guaranteed for 5 or 7 years. 

But the simple fact is that the main benefit is to your health. You will feel better, the air you breathe in your own home will be cleaner and your family will suffer from fewer ailments. That alone makes a whole house ventilation system priceless.