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Low Allergen Homes

 

Allergens are substances that cause an allergic reaction in the immune system. Symptoms Of reactions include:

  • Sneezing, Watery eyes
  • Headaches, Fatigue, Dizzyness, Depression
  • Eczema
  • Diarrhoea
  • Shortness of breath, Coughing, Sore throat, Palpitations, Asthma

Over the past 50 years there has been a significant increase in asthma worldwide. Research has linked this increas to allergens associated with modern building methods and materials.

 

Low Allergen Building Design

To address this issue, the building industry is adopting low allergen design and construction. This is a subset of green building.

Low allergen design is an holistic approach to building with the aim of reducing all known allergens, and to minimize the environments which encourage their existence.

This includes:

  • Design process
  • Materials
  • Ventilation
  • Humidity
  • Heating

 

Indoor Allergens

Indoor allergens include:

  • Dust mites
  • Moulds and fungal spores
  • Fine particles, fumes and gases
  • Volatile Organic Compounds [VOCs] - chemicals that evaporate at room temperature, many of which are known to be toxic and hazardous to human health. This includes stachybotrys.

These indoor allergens are common in the modern home that utilize synthetic and chemical products that contain VCOs. Modern houses are also much more airtight, with the lack of ventilation resulting in a warm, damp and poorly ventilated spaces - perfect conditions for dust mites, moulds and fungal spores.

 

Materials

Toxic chemicals and VOC's are commonly found in:

  • Adhesives
  • Treated timbers
  • Wood composites
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Carpets
  • Pastics and PVC
  • Furnishings and fabrics

These all give off emissions sufficient to trigger an allergic reaction.

In low allergen design, use of these products is avoided wherever possible, instead using green building materials that have zero or low emissions. This may include compressed chipboard [no glue], non-toxic paints, and natural earth plasters.

Instead of carpet floor coverings, flooring is either wood, ceramic tiles or linoleum.

 

Ventilation and Humidity

A well ventilated home helps towards becoming an allergen free home. Ventilation strategies include:

  • Using natural building materials - lime plaster, timber, clay and natural paints that allow a building to breathe.
  • An open building design - help with ventilation
  • Appropriate placing of windows - with trickle vents
  • Extraction fans in high humidity areas - kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Dynamic insulation - creates a permeable insulating layer in the walls or ceilings, and uses a wind-driven extraction fan to create pressure between the outside and inside air. Air is drawn into the building from the outside and recovers the heat that would normally have been lost to the outside by conduction. Moisture is also conducted out of the building and in this way both low humidity and temperature regulation is maintained inside the building.

 

Heating

To lower allergen potential, avoid heating systems that use combustion gases. These significantly increase the risk of developing an allergic reaction. Instead use sustainable energy heating, including:

 

Summary

With weather conditions becoming more extreme around the globe, we are seeking shelter indoors for increasing hours. This is exasperating allergic reactions, making it more imperative that we lower our indoor allergens.

Low allergen design is a holistic approach to create healthy living spaces. By minimising allergen triggers through adopting green building materials and low toxin ventilation design we can make a positive move back towards a more natural and sustainable way of building.

Next: Going Green With Remodelling

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