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Is your House Making You Sick?

As much as we don't like to think about it, our houses could be making us sick. Medical problems caused by environmental hazards are far-reaching, ranging from respiratory irritations - stuffy nose, itchy throat, wheezing, shortness of breath - to more serious complaints of ear infection, asthma, and bronchitis. Such subtle symptoms as fatigue, headaches, inattentiveness, and dermatitis are possible reactions to an unhealthy environment. Many cancers, birth defects, and nervous disorders may be linked to environmental pollution.


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Some people react more quickly to contaminants than others. People who wear contact lenses, for example, often are bothered by environmental toxins in the air before anyone else. People with allergies and respiratory problems may be the first to notice irritants. You needn't be diagnosed chemically sensitive to experience difficulties. For many, such ubiquitous phenomena as formaldehyde in composite wood, hydrocarbons in vinyl furniture, and synthetic chemicals in perfumes, detergents, and fabric softeners cause problems. Some people have to make drastic adjustments - like removing all pressed-wood products from their homes - to lead normal lives. Others make smaller adjustments - like avoiding gas heat, gas stoves, and commercial soaps - in order to be comfortable. It's a matter of reducing the total exposure to a manageable level so the body has a chance to recover.

Are you sensitive?


It can be a short road from good health to multiple chemical sensitivity. Many people become chemically sensitive to some degree after moving into a recently built house or shortly after completion of a remodeling. One theory about hypersensitivity is that the chemicals irritating hypersensitive people are poisonous to everyone - but most people never know it.

Excerpted and adapted with permission from Creating a Safe and Healthy Home (CPI, 2005).


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HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


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Is your House Making You Sick?:  Created on July 16th, 2007.  Last Modified on April 16th, 2010


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About Linda Mason Hunter

Linda Mason Hunter

Linda Hunter is a pioneer in the home ecology/green movement. Her first book, The Healthy Home: An Attic-To-Basement Guide(1989, Rodale Press) was the first book on home ecology written for the layperson. Linda was featured in The New York Times and on "Good Morning, America." She has since authored two more "green" books: Green Clean (Melcher, 2005) and Creating a Safe and Healthy Home (CPI 2005). Linda is a field editor for national magazines and a consultant. Linda Mason Hunter's Website is She also founded Healthy Home Designs.



Information provided by The Healthy House Institute is designed to support, not to replace the relationship between patient/physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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