Many of us see our homes as a safe haven from the germs and pollutants of the outside world. But sometimes, harmful irritants and allergens can be hiding all around your home, making you and your family sick.

An unhealthy home most often leads to upper respiratory problems – namely, asthma and allergies. Allergens and pollutants that accumulate within a home can irritate lungs and sinuses. Wheezing, coughing, and chronic sniffling are signs you’re in an unhealthy environment. Always be sure to check with a doctor if you’re concerned about your health. Otherwise, here are four ways your home could be making you sick.

1. Hidden Mold

Mold spores are incredibly hazardous to our wellbeing, aggravating both chronic conditions and potentially leading to fungal infections. Mold grows in dark, damp places, including basements, bathrooms, and any place near plumbing fixtures.

Flooding and burst pipes are common causes of mold, but they aren’t the only way spores can start growing in your home. Other things that can cause mold include:

Elevated humidity (above 45%), both inside and outside your home
Water damage from a leaky faucet or window
Improperly maintained HVAC systems

Mold is an alarmingly common issue in many homes, so thorough inspections are necessary to keep you and your family safe. If you already have a problem, don’t wait to take action – especially if you live in a humid climate, like Florida or another tropical region. Immediate mold removal in Fort Lauderdale is needed to keep problems from spreading out of control.


2. Dust & Dust Mites

Dust is comprised of tiny particles of dirt, pollen, hair, skin cells, and other microscopic bits of debris from countless sources. Dust mites are tiny living arachnids that feed on dead skin cells. Both cling to surfaces all over the house and aggravate chronic respiratory illnesses, stress out immune systems, and irritate eyes and sinuses.

Removing dust is a tricky, ongoing process. Feather dusters may seem to clean off surfaces, but in reality, they just scatter dust particles elsewhere. A good HEPA air filter can effectively clear out the air, but you should still take measures to keep a clean home. 

Clean out vacuum filters before use and wipe down surfaces with a microfiber cloth. Don’t forget the hard-to-reach places, like window blinds, walls, AC vents, and beneath the fridge and washing machine. Dust mites love bedding and mattresses, so wash sheets, blankets, and fabric furniture coverings regularly.

3. Carpets

Wall-to-wall carpets are notorious for trapping pet dander, dust mites, mold, and other allergy triggers within their fibers. These allergens can then get kicked up and inhaled as you and your family walk around the house, irritating asthma and other respiratory problems.

To combat this, make sure you regularly vacuum and wash carpets, especially in high traffic areas. You should also avoid wearing shoes inside the house to prevent tracking in pollutants from outside. And – if it’s in your budget – consider replacing carpeting with wood or laminate flooring. Hard surfaces won’t collect allergens as much and are easier to clean.

4. Lead Paint

Lead paint is infamous for causing health problems. Symptoms of lead poisoning range from headaches and constipation to permanent damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. Kids are particularly vulnerable, as lead can cause issues with normal development and growth.

Fortunately, there are federal regulations in the US that prohibit the use of lead paint, but some older buildings may still contain it if they were built before 1978. The Environmental Protection Agency requires that landlords and home sellers notify renters and buyers of any lead paint used within a property, but sometimes things can slip by. 

If you’re living in an older residence and are concerned about lead paint, the EPA has tons of resources on finding certified inspectors in your area.