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Environmental Illness: Evaluating Your Home or Workplace

Topic Overview

If you think you are being exposed to toxins, allergens, or other materials that are affecting your health, consider the following questions about your home and workplace. Write detailed answers to the questions, and discuss them with your doctor.

Do you come into contact with or handle any of the following at work or at home?

  • Metals, such as during soldering or welding
  • Dust or fibers, such as from textiles or building materials
  • Chemicals, such as from solvents, paint, glue, pigments, or dry cleaning fluids
  • Fumes
  • Radiation
  • Biological materials, such as bacteria, blood products, or human or animal tissues

Have you been exposed to any of the above in the past?

Are you exposed to loud noises or vibrations at work or at home?

Does anyone in your household come in contact with metals, dust, fibers, chemicals, fumes, radiation, or biological materials?

Do you know what kinds of metals, fibers, chemicals, fumes, or radiation you were exposed to? Did any of the materials get on your skin or clothing?

Are your work clothes washed at home?

Can you smell any of the chemicals or materials you work with at your job? Do you need to use protective equipment, such as gloves or masks?

Do you wash your hands with solvents?

Do you smoke or eat in your workplace?

Are any of your coworkers or family members experiencing unusual symptoms?

Have any pets had a change in health or behavior?

Do your symptoms get better or worse at home, at work, on weekends, or while on vacation?

Is your workplace poorly ventilated?

More questions about your home environment

  • Do you live near an industrial plant, dump, commercial business, or nonresidential property?
  • Which of the following do you have in your home?
    • Air conditioner, purifier, or humidifier
    • Fireplace or woodstove
    • Gas or oil heating
    • Gas or electric stove
  • Have you recently remodeled, installed new carpet, or refinished furniture?
  • Can you see efflorescence on the walls? Efflorescence—a white, powdery or crystalline substance that accumulates on the surface of concrete, plaster, or masonry—can be a good first sign of the presence of moisture that can lead to mold growth.
  • Do you use pesticides or herbicides, such as bug and weed killers, flea and tick sprays, collars, powders or shampoos, in your home or garden or on your pets?
  • Do you work on your car or have a hobby or craft that you do at home?
  • Do you get your drinking water from a private well, city water supply, or grocery store?
  • When was your home built?

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Last Revised October 8, 2013

Last Revised: October 8, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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