HOMES & CHEMICAL ODORS
August 25, 2007 - HERE ARE RESPONSES I
RECEIVED FROM NEWSLETTER READERS ABOUT THE FIBROMITE WHO FELT SHE WAS GETTING SICKER FROM THE CHEMICAL SMELL IN HER
MANUFACTURED HOUSE. THERE'S LOTS OF GOOD INFO BELOW.
- Dominie www.fms-help.com
On new mobile homes, alot of the
chemical smells come from the cheap carpeting and floor padding they
use and/or furniture and decorations which are closed up for long periods of
time while sitting on lots with no trees, in the hot sun and very little air
conditioning. I used to work for a mobile home dealer and I would have to
open up the homes on occasions just to air them out. The chemical smell
would be so bad that when I opened them it would make my nose run, eyes water
and skin itch...it was awful!
I would recommend the writer to google
Manufactured housing chemical smells, and she will get lots of
If it were a mold smell I would say make sure
she had enough ventilation (I like the automatic ones are worth the extra money)
but I have never smelled a chemical order from a manufactered home I have lived
in one for 10 years. New ones have a smell but it really should vanish. She
needs to ask the former own if she bought it used. or the compnay she bought it
fromif new.... I do not know any more to ad except I hope her problem goes
Smells may dissipate for normal people, but
chemically sensitive folks will continue to be bothered by things that do not
bother your average person.
I am a sort of recovering
fibro/CFS/neuropathy kind of person. I have been to Dr. Rea's in Dallas for
treatment in addition to a local alternative doctor.
I can tell you that
your environment is key no matter what your supplements are.
DO NOT MOVE
INTO MANUFACTURED HOUSING. IT, AND TRAILERS ALSO, TEND TO BE LOADED WITH
FORMALDEHYDE. Although my husband doesn't really believe so much in this stuff,
he is fairly supportive about the chemical thing. Even a new computer with
plastic offgassing or worse a new dryer, can make me sick. Normally with the
large amount of supplements I take, I am able to do well and hold down a good
job as a nutritionist. So it is a benefit for the whole family if I am
well. So if YOU have a choice, move into an older home, without mold and
with hardwood floors in a nonmoldy climate.
This poor woman in question
needs to get a good air filter from foustco.com (uses metal and no offgassing
plastic parts). And keep the windows open unless the outside is worse than the
inside. Foustco also has aluminum available in large sheets to seal offgassing
parts if there are individual problems worse than others. Particle board
in use is a big culprit.
And take lots of cleanse stuff. If she is not
already taking probiotics/high quality nutrition (I take Garden of Life), and
cleanse things (I take Pure Body Institute), and eating a diet low in sugar. I
have heard good things about your "egg"product, but I was allergic to it.
Unfortunately, the disability caused by fibro makes it difficult to work so many
are not able to afford. She needs to decrease her exposure and increase her body
clearing. I take a lot of vitamin C and tri salts to clear exposures.
First and foremost, check the carpeting! My sister had new
carpeting put in her house and, long story short, ultimately they had to remove
it. Most often it’s in the backing or the padding. So check this out
with a carpet expert before you tear your whole house apart.
The idea is that chemicals are slowly leaching
for a wide for variety of common household materials (think the new car
smell). Some people get a sensitivity towards these chemicals and become
physical ill.... The condition is contraversial (not official recognized
completely yet) and known as multiple chemical sensitivity (and believed to
possibly co-exist with fibro and CFS).. it is not clear if it is a physical
condition or psychology condition
some helpful websites:
on a side note... i find it interesting the
condition isn't fully recognized... i work as a chemist and we reminded that one
of the reason we need to be careful with the chemicals we work with is being of
I have lived in a
manufactured home for twenty years (we designed it and ordered it new). I don't
think I have had any problems with chemical scents or ductwork. I do have
I only know that I am so
so....................affected by samells and my husband is not bothered, I get
deathly and violently sick..................it is something that seems to happen
. I believe we are very sensitive to smells because of the
fibro......................... I wish I could help but I suffer
This is a good book for the reader who is in
a mfg. house, having symptoms - Her
husband should read this also- "Tired or
Toxic: A Blueprint for Health, by
Sherry A. Rogers, M.D. Ddr.
Jacob Teitelbaum recommended it to me a few
years ago. If it is not
available, there has to be another similar one out
there they could order
from the library.
Oh yes, there is outgassing of carpet,
vinyl, formaldehyde, etc. Don't waste money on getting an air quality guy to
come in. We did that before and unless you are going to sue someone, there's not
much that can be done because indoor air quality standards are not in place in
most states. The only real reason to get a person to come in is to see if there
is a mold problem. But before doing that, use the essential oils. Check your
book, Dom, for the best ones to help. We used Thieves, lavender, and others. We
put drops in shallow pans of water in areas that were outgassing. Refreshed
the oils as needed. Then use the oils helpful for lungs and for allergies.
I use Peace and Calming for my allergic reactions.
I have read that you can sprinkle baking soda
on carpets. Let sit, vacuum, etc to help with outgassing of carpets. I have
never done that, though. For vinyl products there is not much that can be done,
but I clean vinyl floors with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water solution and that might
take out some of the gases if done regularly. For small enclosed areas, I would
put out powdered charcoal in a shallow tray (no water) and leave for days. There
may be a zeolite product that can be put in the areas to removed odors but I
have never tried that, either.
Anything that can be removed from the mobile
home, air out in the direct sun for a day. If no sun, put in dryer and tumble on
air dry for an hour or so. Wash anything that can be washed. Use non-scented
soaps and baking soda cleaners and vinegar as you can.
I have thoroughly researched air purifiers
and not many help with gases. The most expensive ones that say they help with
gases and cigarette smoke may help, but they were too expensive for me to
I would do all that could be done cheaply
before getting air quality samples because the good companies are really
expensive and then what do you do with the info? You have to move and/or sue to
do anything about the problem. We are truly being poisoned by all kinds of the
plastics and chemicals in the environment.
Dom, be careful with what you buy when you
buy! Maybe rent first and see if the new one is OK?
WEBSITES I FOUND......
I have asthma. What can I do about
in my manufactured or modular home?
Industry uses formaldehyde to manufacture
building materials and household products. Other sources inside the home might
be smoking or unvented appliances such as kerosene heaters or gas stoves.
The main sources of formaldehyde in a home
are likely to be pressed wood, which uses glues that have formaldehyde in them.
Some of these pressed wood products include: particleboard, which is used
as sub-flooring and shelving and in cabinetry and furniture; hardwood plywood
paneling, used for wall covering, cabinets and furniture; and medium density
fiberboard, used for drawer fronts, cabinets, and furniture tops. Medium density
fiberboard is generally considered as being the highest formaldehyde-emitting
pressed wood product.
Formaldehyde is also used to add
permanent-press qualities to clothing and draperies, as a component of glues,
and as a preservative in some paints and coating products.
Levels in average homes without formaldehyde
insulation are usually well below 0.1 (ppm). In homes with moderate to large
amounts of new pressed wood products, levels can be greater than 0.3 ppm. (Very
few homes now install Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation - UFFI - due to the
increase of formaldehyde that was found in tests back in the 70s).
Other pressed wood products, such as softwood
plywood are produced for exterior construction use and contain
phenol-formaldehyde (PF) resin in stead of urea-formaldehyde. Although
formaldehyde is present in both types of resins, pressed woods that contain PF
resin generally emit formaldehyde at considerably lower rates than those
containing UF resin.
Since 1985, the Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) has permitted only the use of plywood and particleboard
that conform to specified formaldehyde emission limits in the construction of
prefabricated and mobile homes. In the past, some of these homes had elevated
levels of formaldehyde because of the large amount of high-emitting pressed wood
products used in their construction and because of their relatively small
Over time, formaldehyde emissions will
decrease. There are some things you can do in the meantime to minimize the
effects. These include: good ventilation, air conditioning and a
dehumidifier. High heat and high humidity will contribute to the quicker release
of formaldehyde. Using an air conditioner and a dehumidifier will be highly
beneficial in keeping down emissions. Also, using exterior pressed wood products
in place of the usual interior products may also help eliminate the
concentration of the emissions.
Test kits are available as well as products
that seal particle board.
The cure for plumber's butt - makes a great
This pamphlet provides answers to basic
questions about formaldehyde. It will explain what formaldehyde is, where it can
be found, how it can affect your health, and what you can do to prevent or
reduce exposure to it.
A family recently installed a new counter top
and cabinets in their kitchen. After the installation was completed, an odor
seemed to linger. That evening, while cleaning up after dinner, the mother’s
eyes began to water and the youngest son started coughing. When they left the
kitchen, they noticed that the symptoms went away.
WHAT IS FORMALDEHYDE AND WHERE IS IT
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a
strong, suffocating odor. It often is mixed with alcohol to make a liquid called
formalin. The largest source of formaldehyde is the chemical manufacturing
industry. Formaldehyde is found in cigarette smoke and also can be formed in the
environment during the burning of fuels or household waste. Very small amounts
of formaldehyde are found naturally in the human body.
Formaldehyde can be used for many purposes
and is a popular chemical because of its low cost. It can be found in items such
as plywood, particle board, and other pressed wood products that are commonly
used to make furniture, cabinets, wall paneling, shelves, and counter tops.
Formaldehyde also can be used to kill germs or as a preservative, and is found
in some commercial products. It also is found in items such as dyes, textiles,
plastics, paper products, fertilizer, and cosmetics.
Formaldehyde was a component in urea
formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI). This type of insulation was installed in
many homes during the 1970s and early 1980s. Due to potential health concerns
associated with UFFI, the demand for this product became virtually nonexistent
and it has rarely been used since 1983. Although older homes may still contain
UFFI, any formaldehyde releases would have occurred in the first five years
following installation and would no longer be a cause for concern.
HOW CAN I BE EXPOSED TO
The most common way to be exposed to
formaldehyde is by breathing air containing formaldehyde. This usually occurs in
indoor environments where the gas has been released from formaldehyde-containing
products. Exposure to liquid formalin may be through the skin or by ingestion.
HOW CAN FORMALDEHYDE AFFECT MY
Breathing air containing low levels of
formaldehyde can cause burning and watering eyes. As levels increase, it can
cause burning of the nose and throat, coughing, and difficulty in breathing.
Some people may be more sensitive to formaldehyde and have effects at levels
lower than expected.
Strong mixtures of formaldehyde gas or liquid
can cause irritation or a rash if they contact the skin. When swallowed,
formaldehyde can cause severe pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Formaldehyde that
enters the blood stream can produce effects similar to drinking too much
Animal studies have shown increased nasal
cancers in rats and mice who inhaled high levels of formaldehyde for a long
time. Because of this, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has
classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen (cancer causing
agent). This means there is enough evidence that formaldehyde causes cancer in
animals, but not enough evidence that it causes cancer in humans. Human studies
are inconclusive because it is not known whether observed increases in cancer
are due to formaldehyde exposure or to other factors, such as smoking.
HOW IS FORMALDEHYDE ASSOCIATED MANUFACTURED
Products that contain formaldehyde compounds
can release formaldehyde gas into the air. These types of releases are known as
"off gassing" and they occur most often in products such as plywood, particle
board, and other pressed wood products. The amount released is greatest when the
product is new, and decreases over time. Formaldehyde is released more readily
at warm temperatures and high humidity.
In manufactured homes that contain large
amounts of pressed wood products, there are concerns about the initial indoor
level of formaldehyde. In 1984, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) set standards for construction of manufactured homes. These
standards require that manufacturers only use pressed wood products that release
formaldehyde at levels below an accepted guideline. The standards also require
that a health notice concerning formaldehyde emissions be included on all new
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE FORMALDEHYDE IN MY
Because of its strong odor, formaldehyde can
be smelled at very low levels. The typical person can smell formaldehyde at
levels less than those that might cause health effects. People who are
hypersensitive or who have respiratory problems may experience effects at levels
lower than what can be smelled. There are ways of testing the air to learn how
much formaldehyde is present. If you think that your home may have high levels
of formaldehyde, contact your local health department for more
HOW CAN I REDUCE MY EXPOSURE TO FORMALDEHYDE?
A simple and effective way to reduce
formaldehyde levels in the home is to increase air flow in the affected area by
opening windows and doors. This lowers the level of formaldehyde by increasing
the amount of outdoor air. Usually, the levels decrease and odors are gone
within a few days.
Another way to reduce exposure is to apply a
barrier between formaldehyde containing surfaces and the indoor air. Products
such as latex-based paints or varnish can block formaldehyde “off gasses.” The
use of vinyl coverings such as wallpaper and floor covering on particle board
panels also has been effective. If all other efforts fail to reduce formaldehyde
to manageable levels, removing formaldehyde containing products from the home
environment may be necessary.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE
Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Environmental Health
525 W. Jefferson St.
TTY (hearing impaired use only)
This pamphlet was supported in part by
funds from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability
Act trust fund through a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services.
A reader writes The Green Guide:
I have been an avid reader of The Green
Guide for about a year now and find it so helpful! I am currently in a
tough situation and my only option is to move into a manufactured home on land
my parents own. I have long despised these types of homes as an environmental
nightmare and health hazard. I have two toddlers and am just wrought with
anxiety over their health and well-being in our new home.
I am hoping you might be able to give me some
information to help minimize the health risks. Are there certain manufactured
homes with less off-gassing (esp. formaldehyde) than others? Are some better
environmentally than others? I want to do what is best for my family and the
planet. Please help!!!
(Oh, and my son has severe food allergies
which will progress to environmental allergies so I am really concerned about
him breathing toxic air!) What can I do to lessen his exposure? Are there any
filters that remove formaldehyde from the air?? I can't find information
anywhere about these types of homes and their health/environmental impact.
The Green Guide Responds:
Unfortunately, we know of no manufactured
homes out there that we can recommend, though it's possible you can retrofit
your manufactured home to improve its air quality somewhat. John Bower of the
Healthy House Institute had nothing good to say about manufactured homes: he
told us that every one he knows of offgasses a number of VOCs, including
formaldehyde, and that manufactured homes "usually have no ventilation at all."
And the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green-building rating
system does not include manufactured homes.
Why are manufactured homes so potentially
hazardous? They contain a number of sealants and adhesives to keep the structure
airtight for insulation purposes. Further, they use a good deal of resinous
material, including acrylics, plastics, and large amounts of particleboard, all
of which can offgas. VOCs plus a small, poorly ventilated space are an unhealthy
recipe. The industry has changed particleboard formulations and improved
ventilation, but Bower didn't know of a manufactured home worth recommending.
Paul Novack of Environmental Construction
Outfitters, who's dealt with customers who already own a manufactured home, had
a different take. He says he's performed retrofitting and renovations that have
significantly alleviated air-quality concerns; he said large improvements can be
made in the ventilation, paint, insulation, carpet, finish, and so on. Consult a
private contractor after the fact, or, a better option, ask the manufacturer
before buying the manufactured home whether you can substitute healthier
materials for an added fee. Novack said that an ozone machine might knock down
formaldehyde levels at first (but not while you're living there), howevere
repainting and sealing surfaces and then using HEPA/carbon filter is much
better. Novack adds that ozone machines can be harmful to some people. "You want
to retard offgassing by sealing the walls and caulking all gaps as best you
can," Novack says, adding "The key is getting the air circulation as best you
can with air filters. Avoid carpeting if you can."
Bower disagreed with Novack on retrofitting:
he said there's no easy way to retrofit manufactured homes to rid them of their
VOCs. Adding ventilation or an ozone machine, or trying to bake the VOCs out by
heating the house for an extended period, won't do the trick, he said. When two
experts disagree, we remain agnostic. It seems likely that you can improve the
air quality of your manufactured home, but perhaps not to an entirely acceptable
level. Do keep in mind that any retrofitting you do will drive up the house's
cost, lessening the savings from a cleanly built conventional house.
The Log Cabin Alternative
There are other options out there if you
think you can't afford a conventional house, though it depends on your local
climate and on the amount and characteristics of the land you have. In his
Complete Guide to Building Log Homes (Sterling, $19.95), Monte Burch
writes that the materials for a log cabin can cost as little as $1,000. (The
cost goes up, of course, if you buy a kit or use a construction company, but it
still is generally much cheaper than a regular home.) If you want to get even
more traditional, you can look into the weather-tight circular platform tents
known as yurts, originally used by Central Asian nomads. If you go through a
manufacturer like Pacific Yurts (www.yurts.com), base
prices range from $3,950 for a 12' diameter yurt to $8,750 for 30'. Optional
features can run you a few thousand more, and then there's another few thousand
for heating and the wooden flooring. For yurts, cabins, teepees (or tipis), and
other alternative homes, there are plenty of books with much more detailed
information—enough, in fact, to build your own if you're handy, or to guide a
contractor if you're not. Look for Burch's book, David Pearson's Circle
Houses, (Chelsea Green, $16.95) B. Allen Mackie's The Owner-Built Log
House (Firefly, $24.95) and Log House Plans (Firefly, $24.95), and
Paul King's The Complete Yurt Handbook. (Eco-Logic, $21.95)
But don't think that any alternative home is
a magic bullet. Says Bower, "Things that go inside the structure are what's
important"—finishing materials like cabinets and floor covering, far more so
than the structure itself. Shop around: a conventional house might not end up
costing much more than a manufactured home. (And is a cheap home that creates
health problems—and medical bills—actually cheap?) With a conventional home,
you'll be able to control the materials used in it, and to make sure it's
This issue was being tackled by FEMA who has thousands
of mobile homes that were given to Katrina survivors and they became very sick
once moving in.
Mobile homes have been a major problem for individuals
with MCS, CFS, FM etc. Make sure you do your homework…check the manufacturer,
insulation materials etc.
If living in Florida is becoming a financial burden to you – consider
North Carolina or Georgia - taxes
are much lower in both states and the cost of living is a bit easier in the
Tell your reader to get in
touch with the person who sold them their home. They should know someone
that can come out and do the tests. If that does not work, tell her to get
in touch with the county office where she lives for enviromental control.
All counties should have one of these. If the county does not
this, then the state office will be able to guide her where to go.
This might be the best way for her to go to have her home
tested. The enviromental control people can tell her who to call for
mold, etc., testing. Also, some contractors are able to test for these
problems, even though they did not build the home.
This sounds exactly like the new trailers that
were supplied to the New
Orleans residents who lost their homes. The
residents have reported serious
symptoms, and it is established that these
trailers are contaminated with
formaldehyde. VERY SERIOUS.
would google something like "house inspection, (name the county),
formaldehyde, mold, etc." All home buyers should have a professional
inspector before they purchase the home. (sorry for the bold, cant get
off!) These inspectors can recommend someone who can fix the
Your reader is probably right about the house
making her sick. When I first moved into a "newer" house years ago I
immediately developed asthma. Went around for the first few months feeling
like my chest was constricted in a barrel. My doctor thought I was
developing emphysema and scared the heck out of me. Since I had never
lived in a house that had particle board I thought it was formaldehyde in the
wood that was making me ill, but could never prove it. It did ease off
after a few years. Not sure what can be done about it. Pretreated
wood actually made me nauseated and my children developed headaches. Had
to get it right out of the house. (We had a large piece that my husband
was going to work on and he had to paint it to cut the smell.) Be careful
yourself if you move into a "fabricated" house. The chemicals they use may
really affect you.
Regarding the Mobile Home chemical smell, I remember
seeing a news segment about a month ago that there were a great many people
getting sick from the FEMA trailers that were given out after the hurricanes.
They traced some of it back to the fact that the manufacturers used slightly
different materials in their haste to get the trailers made and out the door.
These materials, especially those in the cabinets, had tested higher chemicals
than the normal laminate cabinets.
I would call a mold remediation company for referrals
to testing laboratories. That’s probably a good place to start as far as testing
an existing mobile home.
For those who are chemically sensitive, regardless of
the trailer, the materials used are not like drywall or wood in a house. They
are predominately plastics and laminates which are chemically laden, not to
mention the dozens of chemicals used in conventional carpet as opposed to
healthier natural materials like stone, tile, slate or cork floors.
On the organic front, there is a new flooring available called MARMOLEUM,
which looks like linoleum but is made from flax, rosins, wood flour and
backed with jute. There are also organic carpets available online. You could ask
the trailer manufacturer to NOT install carpet or linoleum or laminate
countertops (in place of granite or stone or tile), which would reduce the
amount of chemicals. The website for the floor is http://www.themarmoleumstore.com. Or 1 866-MARMOLEUM.
You can ask the dealer or manufacturer for something
called MSDS sheets (Material Safety Data Sheet) on materials used in
construction of these trailers, but then you will have to research the specific
materials and then you still may not know if you are sensitive until you live in
one of the trailers.
If surfaces are painted, I would HIGHLY recommend Bio-Shield paint, which
I used all over my house with great success. Most paints, even low VOC paints
contain chemicals of some sort or another. Many paint companies use chemicals
that ‘surround’ the molecules, which masks odor, but still contains chemicals.
Bio-Shield contains NO chemicals. It’s totally natural and goes on just like
regular paint. I used a color called “Golden Dome”, which ended up a BEAUTIFUL
shade of neutral butter cream. Their website is http://www.bioshieldpaint.com
. They have color charts available to send and honestly, I would never use
another brand of paint ever again.
Have you done a search of the net? Type
in offgassing chemicals in mobile homes, or check with the EPA and see if they
have any info.
I did call the American Lung Assoc. once to
ask about my cottage cheese ceilings and asbestos. They were helpful and
said that it is best to cover them than to disturb them, either by painting
them, hence sealing in the asbestos, or by drywalling over them again...
She should be able to contact either the city
or county where she lives and that should have someone that could check those
items or recommend who to call. Hope this helps.
Here in Pennsylvania there were some issues
with pre fab houses and double wide homes having mold and mildew I know the one
women contacted the Dept of Envromental Control though a local legistrator .
They did send someone out to inspect the home and in return went back on the 422
Home Sales and the house had to be taken down and reconstructed and then
inspected to see if everything was installed correct.
far as the smells yes they are normal and do go away with time, but they are
fumes from glue, carpet backing and even nylon materials ect. Everything that is
used is a chemical such as caulking around the bath and kitchen are silicone.
Being that its considered safe to build with I doubt anyone would do anything
about it. But I do know some construction places use things to be cost effective
that are not safe and get away with it. Like I said she should contact a local
legislator and get the info on who to contact about the DER.
I remember this happening in Canada.
You need to call health department and they will send you in right
direction. Some people even sued because of their
Off gassing from a Mobile home is worse,
usually, than off gassing in a "normal" house. I wouldn't move into one unless
it was several years old. The person who wrote in could buy or borrow, if
she could find someone who would do so, and use an ozonator machine. It can help
to bring down the levels of the chemicals. Airing it out is always a must if one
can (leave windows open and spend as much time outside). If there is a good
applied Kineselogist in your area who could muscle test you, you might be able
to take a supplement that helps the body detox those chemicals. It is just a bad
situation and Domminie, I would enter into buying one with great caution.
PLEASE don't move into anything that smells new. These chemicals
dangerous for people like us who have CFIDS and or FIbromyalgia.
takes several years for the chemical smells to go away. You are
so great now, yes? Is there anyway you can stay where you are
The woman who wrote in- there are companies in the
yellow pages- look
up someone who does testing for the home. I am not
sure where she
lives or what companies would be in her area. I have
never had my
home tested, by then I have been moving every two years
I too have lived in mobile homes here in
Florida. My last experience was a 3 year nightmare. I found no solution but to
I hope and pray for a solution for our fellow
fibromite. You, also need to very carefully investigate before you
We are indeed so individually different there
is no pat answer for us.
About the time the chemicals dissipate the
problem of mold begins. My husband washed to home with a pressure washer and
bleach twice a year yet the mold seemed to permeate the atmosphere. I was at the
doctor and on the heaviest medications ever during my 13 years of diagnosis with
fibro. A survey nationwide of all fibromites may help.
First, a question for you. Do you have
chemical sensitivities? For people without them, the odour is little more
than an annoyance. I have them and certain things can bring on an asthma
attack. One of these is particle board, a major building material in
manufactured homes. We researched them pretty thoroughly in our
previous city and decided against them. One of the considerations was that
they were not zoned for within the city limits other than in "trailer parks", so
that may be something to consider. Outside the city you are usually
dealing with well and septic, and travel time to medical facilities and other
I cannot live in a home that is less than two
years old as there are too many things that set me off. I have owned a two
year old home without incident, even though the builder repainted just before we
took possession. He managed to get some non-allergic paint for me.
Our present home was three years old when we bought it last year. I
thought I might have some trouble with the laminate floors throughout, but am
fine. We did buy a couple of particle board dressers last year, one for my
studio and one for our home office. They still bother me. The new
solid wood entertainment unit has not been a problem.
I also have a mold allergy, but keeping
things dry and getting my furnace ducting cleaned out every few years seems to
be the answer. I have a robotic vacuum that does a wonderful job of
getting into every nook and cranny to keep the dust out, so I am less
bothered by dust since we got it.
Hope this gives you some things to
I suggest she call a reputable heating/a/c
place and have them check out the heating and a/c system and ductwork. There are
things that they can do kill any possible mold and bacteria growing in the
system. I suggest removing all carpet and replacing with tile if feasible. If
there is any wall paper remove it and paint.
I live in Florida and this is what I did with
my manufactured home and it helped my breathing.
I live in a mobile home that I bought new. The
chemical smell is formaldehyde. It does diminish after time, but that takes a
while. The worst season for it is summer because heat causes it to leech into
the air. The thing you need to do to diminish it is to be sure to ventilate the
home properly! Open windows regularly to let the fresh air in. Although
they are more expensive, you can choose a mobile home that has sheetrock walls
instead of fiber board. It helps because it doesn’t smell as bad, and it is also
more fire resistant.
I have lived here two years now and I rarely smell
anything when I come home from work. It took about three months to dissipate. I
have athsma, and I had a few bad times at first, but now I don’t have attacks at
home often at all. I’m not particularly sensitive to this particular chemical,
but some are. I’d go with your husband to the manufacturer and see how it makes
you feel. Keep in mind that the smell you smell in the home on the show lot is
far stronger than what you would deal with if you owned the home, because those
homes sit there closed up and are poorly ventilated and are baking in the sun. I
am sensitive to mold. In my last home (also a mobile home) I was very sick
because it was positioned over a tiny spring that I didn’t know about until much
later. The whole underside of the home and the interior of the south wall was
molded black. When we discovered it we moved to Florida, asap. I needed warmth and humidity
for the athsma anyway.
A new home will have the formaldehyde smell, but it
will also be relatively mold free. You can then maintain the low mold state by
keeping the rooms ventilated, making sure the A/C is running in the summer
(makes a big difference!) and running ceiling fans to move the air. Make sure
there are no big trees shading the home, since they promote rapid mold growth.
Pray a mild solution of bleach and water on the outside of the home twice a year
will help prevent mold too.
My fibro has been worse since I’ve been in Florida, but I attribute
that to having a great deal of financial stress, and having had a job that was
putting me in a life or death struggle on a daily basis. I no longer have that
job and am seeing the stress slowly lessen. Hopefully I’ll feel better soon.
Best advise I can think of
for this woman is to call poison control.
They should be able to connect her
with the right person.
I know that the cement used for
carpet installation (and even the carpet itself) can give off a really toxic
odor. When we moved in to our newly built home we were told to literally
“bake” the smell out of our house by turning up the heat extremely high and
leaving the house for hours at a time. The heat actually helps “cure” the
glues and “new” smells. Then when we got home, we just opened up our home
to air it out. Of course this was before I was diagnosed with
fibromyalgia—but it might be worth a try.
I have also felt that my split level home has
been the cause of my health problems. It is a feeling I have had for the last 8
years when my health problems began.(in house for 10yrs). I called my village
and they gave me some references. When I called,I was told to do a complete
inspections would require holes in walls, removing bath tiles and our emptying
our entire attic with the inspection cost of $1200 dllars. We could
not afford this or the cost of tile/wall replacements after their inspection. We
also cannot afford to move. Even downsizing in my area is more expensive than
what we paid for our house.
Please post replys because I still feel my
house contributes or may be the cause and would be interested in what others
Here's a search I did on Google
Sick building syndrome is not a psychosomatic illness. It's real. The
lady of the house needs to know this & tell her I said to slap her husband
on his head for being silly.
This is from the EPA - http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/sbs.html. There's alot of info here. Good luck!
The chemical smell in
manufactured homes is probably formaldehyde from the materials used to make the
home. Living in such a home when fairly new could send someone who is
already ill from CFS or Fibromylagia into Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, which
no one would like to have. I started out with CFS and became ill with MCS
after renovating my home with new flooring that was outgassing
formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is also a carcinogen.
Dominie, my grandmother (who also had
fibromyalgia) could not live in
their new mobile home purchased for their
They all have formaldehyde and many other toxic products
I would never live in one again myself (I did years before I
have my symptoms - for just one year while saving to buy a
We are building a small new home, as "green" as possible. To
the only smart solution for a "Mite".
The catch phrase "Sick Homes" describes homes with poor, even
hazardous, living environments.
There are several sources which can make homes
uncomfortable and unhealthy to live in. And a basic problem is poor air
quality often caused by too little ventilation.
Inadequate ventilation may be a combination of things.
New houses are insulated and sealed so well that no fresh air enters in.
Moisture builds up but can't escape and that makes a perfect breeding
ground for mold.
Also, some types of building materials emit vapors
that are harmful or discomforting to many people. Such conditions
eventually make a house "sick."
Summary of Problems
"Sick House" symptoms develop because the house
literally can't breathe. As a result, it gets congested with internal
Especially in winter, pollutants can be more abundant
when air flow is less. Common sources of pollutants in the home are
Carpets, Furnace, Fireplace, pressed wood Cabinets & Cupboards,
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) consist of a range
of chemicals that are released into the air over time. Often described as
that pleasant, "new smell," VOCs can be harmful. Short-term exposure to
VOCs can cause headaches, nausea and irritate eyes, throat and
||Carpet, Paint, Fabric|
|Mold & Mildew
||Air Conditioner, Humidifyer, Heat
||Wood-burning Stove & Fireplace
Resin-based Particleboard, Fiberboard, Cabinets,
Countertops, Carpet, Fabric
||Seeps Through Cracks in Foundation|
Can you smell if there's trouble? Yes, and no. Even
the pros must rely on sophisticated equipment. But to a degree, the nose
Newly introduced VOCs, especially in carpet, can
easily be detected by the odor they give off. They smell "new." Open up a
cupboard door and smell. If it smells "funny," formaldehyde may be
present. If you see discolored walls, it may be mold.
One's senses aren't always reliable, so if you're
unsure, have the home professionally tested. That may cost about $200, but
it's money well spent.
If you're thinking of buying a house, consider hiring
an inspector who is experienced and will look for signs of possible indoor
Summary of Solutions
All those creepy dust mites, molds and VOCs seem to
make a house unfit to live in. Thankfully, there are some simple,
cost-effective solutions to reduce/eliminate many
- Change furnace filter once a month.
- Run bathroom vent fan when showering to discourage
- Clean humidifier and air conditioning drain pans
- No smoking
- Let new carpet, drapes, furniture "air out" before
- Keep gutters clean to avoid moisture penetration
- Repair cracks in basement/foundation
- Regularly clean and tune all fuel-burning
(From the American Lung Association,
Sealed combustion units such as the gas furnace and
hot water heater prevent dangerous gases from entering the
One of the best ways to enhance air quality is to
install a whole house Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), which we discuss
in our section on Ventilation.
i lived in a mobile home, also a
manufactured home for about 14 years. (1985-1999, 1 older mobile home 7
years old, and 2 new maufactured homes) - i progressively got more pain, less
sleep, and my chronic fatigue got worse. my fibro was first in my upper
body, and progressed to my lower body. there were times i felt i
couldn't get out of my bed for days, weeks. then my mom financed the
building of my home now, that was built with all green material. no
formaldehyde, no formaldehyde insulation. no voc paints, or vanishes, no
carpeting (used tile, could of used cotton rugs, or carpeting, but too
expensive) all wood doors, with furniture that is all wood and stained with no
voc stain ,not mdr wood (that has glues and formaldehyde in it). the
manufacture home and mobile home made me very sick, with making my fibro and cf
turn from mild-med., to very severe. these days i don't know if you can
pick out the material you would be using in constructing your new
manufactured home, but if you can't get green materials to
construct it i would strongly suggest not to go this way. i have so
many allergies to everything these days that i got a letter from my allergist,
which helped me build my house. i would check with your doctor,( to get a
written statement about your illness, and what chemicals do
to you), and also check with getting help for the disabled (to
see if you can get a reduced loan to build a green house for medical
reasons). also, try usda, for a reduced loan. since i have been in my
new house without chemicals, i can at least take care of myself, compared to
having a caregiver, which i had previously for a few years.
These articles may be of some
I remember when my
friend bought a new car and the car seats had that new smell. It bothered
me pretty badly for the first few times I was in it. Then after about 2
months when the new smell was completely gone I didn't feel those bad
symtoms. I think our systems are overtaxed so any chemicals will effect us
easily. If we're not taxed then it might not even bother us.
Everyone's biology is different. I imagine You'll be fine after a month or
About the formaldehyde smell
in mobile homes, RV's, etc. I was once told if you turn the heat up really
high for about a week it'll help to burn some of it off. I have no idea if
this is true, but thought I'd pass it on.
I have lived in a mobile home for about 18
years and that is when my debilitating brain fog and fatigue set in. I
can't move out because I can't work and my husband's income is not enough
to buy a better home. This thing I live in still reeks after 20
years. I don't notice it till I go away for a few days to visit my sister
and when I come home the smell is bad. When we moved in there were
warnings posted in the cabinets and elsewhere to ventilate daily by
running the central heating and A/C on fan only setting to bring in fresh
air. Mine has a kind of mothball chemical like smell. I would advise
anyone to avoid living in a manufactured home if they can help it. But of
course, an older traditional wood frame may be contaminated by
I would encourage everyone to educate
themselves about the health hazards of some building materials.
Most people take for granted that the home they buy is safe and that is not
Thanks for letting me vent. And
also, Ms. Bush I want to thank you for the very important information you have
been getting out to people out there who are struggling with health
issues. I thought for a long time that nobody else had these types of
health problems. Many people don't believe I'm sick because this type of
illness is so misunderstood.
For more information, you may call the ATSDR Information Center at
1-888-422-8737 - this is the # to call about FORMALDEHYDE, and am sure they can
also get you to other sites for the other problems (i.e., chemicals, etc.)
I have the same health problems as you. Chemical smells , in a mobile
home or any home is bad. If I had to move into one, I would die or
to be removed from that home. It takes a long long time for that to
off. Yes, it wears off, but not in a short while. The trailer will long out
you, not you out last the trailer. The worst smells in it will be the
but it can be many other things also. For me, the smells cause
me to not
be able to breath right. First the voice goes and then the throat
and I would die if I stayed around it. Even Cigarette smells do it
My daughter who also has Fibro and chemical reactions, got new
carpet in her home and it burned her throat, chest, and nose. She
always have problems from it. Her throat has to be treated a few times
a year because of it.
I suggest you not to spend your money on one that has these odors.
I doubt you would win over the smell, and you could lose your life's
The House Can Make You Sick
Thanks for the segment on MCS. This is very timely as I've
just been ambushed by the change in scent of a good soap I've been relying
on. It made me very ill.
Your author queries if this could be a psychiatric
condition. I strongly think that it is not. Dr Martin Pall
has strong views on this. His book proposes a biological theory and has a strong
chapter on psychiatric theories. It is available on Amazon.
Explaining "Unexplained Illnesses" - Disease Paradigm for
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia,
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Gulf War Syndrome, and Others, Martin L
Pall; Haworth Press, 2007.
I live in one myself, but it was a repo. So there
for, it didn't have new chemical smells to it. Any newly homes will have
the smell she is talking about, or any homes that have had construction
work. My ex hubby was a plumber and electrician, and I went with him
sometime on the job. All new homes smelled that way. Homes that were older
homes that he worked on and others such as carpenters and etc., the additions or
repairs smelled that way also. So it isn't only manufactured homes, it is
any. It is just the things they use to make them. (the pipe glue and
silicone) that my ex hubby would use was awful. It would always make my
head blast, and this was even before my time of fibro.
If writer is taking any
fibro meds I would check side effects. I have had that same problem with
my eyes due to meds I was taking. In fact, I was taking a couple of
benedryl at night to help me sleep, same ingredients as most over the counter
sleep aids, and it was making my eyes blurry and burn. Other fibro meds
have given me severe brain fog.
Those chemical smells are for real!!
Even when the smell isn't evident the danger remains.
I have had Multiple
Chemical Sensitivities as well as CFIDS for many years. Please check out
this website to see the dangers of formaldehyde found in pressed board, carpets,
carpet cements, and insulation in 'MFG'D. Homes'. These homes are
seriously detrimental and toxic for anyone, let alone those with
chemical sensitivities or chronic illnesses. I belonged to an environmental
sensitivities support group for many years and mobile homes are one of the
worst toxic environments to live in or worse yet, to sleep in! And the sales
person's info' on the VOC's will out gass with time is not reliable.
Formaldehyde In The Indoor Environment http://www.aerias.org/DesktopModules/ArticleDetail.aspx?articleId=40
Check out the resource page from the renowned Environmental
Health center in Dallas Texas: a homebuyers/renters
Also check out the National Institute of Environmental Health website
and check out the endocrine disrupters info'. http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm
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