Common allergy triggers in your home
If you are beginning to suspect that you are allergic to something at home, you may be right. The good news is this should be a relatively easy problem to fix. Check to see if one or more of these things in your environment may be causing the problem.
Paints that release volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Some solvents and chemicals in paints give off VOCs as the paint dries, and these compounds could irritate your nose, eyes and throat, or cause headaches and dizziness. Avoid these symptoms by looking for paints with little to no VOC, such as those from Dulux or Nippon Paint.
Plywood or particle board furniture
Do not get giddy on that "new furniture smell". That is probably the smell of VOCs and formaldehyde being released into the air, a process known as "off-gassing". Going for natural and untreated furniture may help, but if you do not have the budget for those, be sure to air out your home regularly to avoid breathing in the fumes. Alternatively, you could look into second-hand furniture as VOC levels dip over time.
Synthetic mattresses, couches and carpets
It is hard to avoid potentially irritating chemicals with these, so since you spend so much time on them , go for those that are as natural or organic as possible. Alternatively, air out your new bed, sofa or carpet for a week in a well-ventilated space.
Dirty air-conditioners and fans
A dirty fan could be flinging dust all over your room, so be sure to clean the blades and grill at least once a month. You should also clean out your air-con filters monthly to prevent bacteria and mould from growing in the unit and causing unpleasant odours.
If your air-con comes with an air-purifying mode, be sure to make use of it, especially during the flu and haze season, as it could remove close to 100 per cent of contaminants, dust and allergens in the air.
Outdated and clogged vacuum cleaner
Invest in a new machine that comes with a Hepa filter that traps dust, pet dander and mites more efficiently. It is probably also going to be more powerful and less noisy than your current model.
"Wrong" house plants
Plants are supposed to clean the air, but the "wrong" ones could cause all sorts of allergy problems. It could be that you are allergic to a certain type of pollen, or that the plant traps dust on its leaves and fuzzy stems.
You could also be allergic to the plant's sap or the bugs the plant attracts.
This article was first published in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)