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That New House Smell – Welcome Home to Toxic Fumes

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by Holly Sanders
(Hastings, UK)

You spent months searching for just the right location, building plans, and the best market value for your new home. You spent weeks researching color chips and ceramic tile. Now it’s moving day, and exhilaration is in the air! You step over the threshold, and that new house smell hits you. It’s not exactly the Garden of Eden.

Formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are used in common construction materials and furnishings, like paint and plywood. The combination of all of those new materials produces a significant level of toxic fumes. Don*t wait for your family to experience mysterious ailments – take action to improve the air quality in your new home.

Delay your move-in date – if possible, and ventilate the house during that time. Experts estimate that it may take a year or more for materials in new homes to completely off-gas, but the highest levels occur in the first days and weeks after installation.

Move the air. Outdoor air is cleaner than a new home’s indoor air. You could open windows and run fans, but that is not always practical. Contact the HVAC contractor and ask what type of system he installed. If it is a “closed” system, get quotes on installing a fresh air modification. You might want to consider a heat recovery ventilator(HRV) if you live in a colder climate.

Get out of the house. Even a short time away from the fumes will decrease your exposure. This is especially important for children and the elderly.

Buy houseplants. A few houseplants will not void bad air, but they can improve a bubble of clean air where they are placed. Look for spider plants, heart leaf philodendron, golden pothos, gerbera daisies, rubber plants, and peace lilies!

Updated: April 21, 2013 — 9:53 pm

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