Designing An Allergy-Friendly Home


Allergies are on the rise in Singapore — one in three Singaporeans experience at least one nasal allergy symptom, such as a runny or blocked nose, the Straits Times reports. Many allergens (like dust mites, pet dander, and mold) are found in the home — which is bad news since we spend 90% of the time indoors. In particular, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) found in construction materials, carpet, and paint cause symptoms like nose and throat discomfort, asthma, nausea, and skin reactions. If you’re remodeling or updating your home, it’s important to use materials, flooring, and paints which improve indoor air quality and minimize your exposure to allergens.

Construction materials

Common construction materials contain chemicals like VOCs and formaldehyde that trigger allergic reactions. PVC is particularly dangerous as it contains chemicals shown to damage the immune system and even cause cancer. Make sure ceiling tiles, pipes, and window treatments are all PVC-free. If you’re using plaster, drywall, or sheetrock inside your home look for materials resistant to mold, fungus, and water — most conventional materials are treated with chemicals that encourage mold growth. Alternately, organic, earth-derived plasters fight mold, moisture, and humidity while being completely free from harmful contaminants.

Hard flooring

Flooring sets the look and feel of a room. It’s also an expensive investment, so you want to choose a beautiful, durable material that’s allergen-free. Avoid carpets and soft flooring: they capture allergens, harmful debris, and pesticides tracked in from the outdoors. In fact, carpet has been proven to be 4,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat! Alternatively, hardwood flooring improves air quality as it doesn’t harbor allergens like dust mites and mold, which end up contributing to allergies and asthma. In rooms with heavy traffic, opt for materials that can withstand a lot of wear and tear like slate, stone, or tile. Laminate and vinyl flooring have high levels of VOCs and formaldehyde, so avoid them altogether.

VOC-free paint

Regular paint, especially oil-based paint, emits VOC-containing vapors. However, that doesn’t mean water-based paints are safe either. A study by Harvard School of Public Medicine linked high rates of asthma, eczema, and congestion in children to chemicals contained by water-based house paints. So, choose low- or no-VOC paints to improve air quality and minimize allergic reactions. When painting interior walls, it’s important to only use paint suitable for indoor application. Outdoor products aren’t meant for interior use and usually contain protectants and sealants brimming with chemicals with the potential to trigger an allergic reaction.

It’s also essential your home is properly ventilated. HVAC systems trap allergens like pet dander, mold, pollen, and dust mites while bringing fresh air into your home. However, it’s essential you change the filters regularly to keep the system functioning correctly and maintain healthy indoor air quality. Allergies can be miserable, so it’s important your home minimizes your family’s exposure to allergens. With these tips, you’ll be better equipped with the knowledge to create an allergy-friendly home you love living in.

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