They’ve got us wrapped up like a bug in a rug!
Anyone of a certain age remembers the good old days when a house was, well, just a house! Now, we’ve got all kinds of energy-saving rules home builders must follow. And while that may be a good thing for the environment — and our wallets — all that “tight construction” has a big downside.
Actually, it could slowly but surely be killing you and your family. That is, unless you know what steps to take to make your inside air safe to breathe again.
Waiting to exhale
It’s called “sick building syndrome,” and it means that the air inside a home or office can make you ill — sometimes seriously ill.
In some cases, things are so toxic that anyone who has been inside can soon tell that something is wrong.
But there are other, much sneakier contaminants that can damage your health. In fact, you could be surrounded by one special breeding ground for them right now.
A new study has found that wallpaper is a literal hotbed for an especially dangerous type of fungal byproduct known as mycotoxins.
And these toxins don’t just sit there, either.
Lead author Dr. Jean-Denis Bailly, a professor at the National Veterinary School in Toulouse, France, said that his team “demonstrated that mycotoxins could be transferred from a moldy material to air” under typical conditions inside a building.
Not only can these mycotoxins attach themselves to fungal spores, travel along with them and become distributed all around your home, but they can also hitchhike on “very small particles” such as dust or tiny bits of wallpaper.
That “toxic load,” as Dr. Bailly called it, can be “easily inhaled.”
You’re probably familiar with aflatoxin, one common mycotoxin that contaminates peanuts, but there are dozens of others. And it wasn’t until recently that scientists realized that mycotoxins weren’t just a problem in food, but indoor air as well.
Now, if you’re wondering how dangerous exposure to these microscopic poisons is, the sky’s the limit.
Previous research has linked mycotoxin inhalation to everything from digestive problems, breathing difficulties, skin issues, damage to your nervous system, infertility, and on and on and on.
So, the real question is, how can you make sure that breathing the air in your home doesn’t become a game of Russian roulette?
To do that, you’ll need to take some simple, but important steps to clear the air:
#1: Opening windows is one of the easiest ways to get the air moving in your home. On top of wallpaper dangers, building materials can off-gas dangerous compounds for a very long time. And if you’ve painted any rooms in your house recently, you’ve just added more chemicals to the indoor air, even if that paint was a low VOC variety.
#2: Invest in one — or more — portable HEPA room air filter. Make sure to get one that uses a “pre-filter” that can pick up bigger particles from the air, and remember to replace it often (especially if you have pets).
#3: Buy a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter so you’re not just picking up dust and blowing it back out into your home again.
#4: Never “dry dust,” as that’s simply a way of moving these particles around to different locations instead of cleaning them up.
And be sure to inspect any wallpaper in your home for damage and mold. If you need to clean an area, use a spritz of water or a non-toxic cleaning agent on a duster or cloth. You can put white vinegar into a spray bottle and apply it to surface mold. Let it sit for an hour or so and wipe clean — otherwise, just dry-wiping will simply send large numbers of spores out in the air (and into your lungs).
If the mold has gotten to the point where staining is coming through, the only option is to remove the wallpaper entirely. But be sure to wear a protective breathing mask if you’re doing the job yourself.
Of course, if you’ve had any flooding in basements or crawl spaces, you may want to have an expert inspect the area. Many use “sniffing” devices that can detect mold in your home that you can’t see or smell.
“Wallpaper may be breeding ground for dangerous toxins” HealthDay News, June 23, 2017, upi.com