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Sunday, July 29, 2001

Nursing your house back to health

Staff writer

What can you do to protect yourself from sick-house syndrome?

First, according to Koichi Ikeda of the Institute of Public Health in Tokyo, you should pay much more attention to ventilation in your home.

Safer housing materials on display at the Living Design Center Ozone in Shinjuku

"Try to open the windows more often to get fresh air," he recommends. "Remember that houses emit chemicals especially in the first year after they are built and in the summertime [when high temperatures activate chemical substances]."

There are various organizations that will measure the concentration of chemicals in your home and help you to amend any problems.

"People should take action as soon as possible if they think they are suffering from chemical pollution in their homes, before the condition just gets worse," Ikeda says.

The following is a list of institutions that will provide help with sick-house syndrome and related problems:

* Jyutaku Funso Shori Shien Center, a Tokyo support center for housing-related troubles affiliated with the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, (03) 3556-5147, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (weekdays).

* Nihon Kenko Jyutaku Kyokai (Japan Healthy Building Association), Osaka (06) 6390-8277, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

* Nihon Kenzai Sangyo Kyokai (Japan Building Materials Industry Association), Tokyo (03) 5640-0901, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (weekdays).

* Sick House o Kangaeru Kai (Sick-House Syndrome Group), Shijonawate, Osaka Prefecture, (0743) 79-9103, fax (0743) 79-9153.

For people who want to build their homes or refit their existing houses with safe materials, manufacturers now offer various products. The Living Design Center Ozone in Shinjuku features about 850 such items, including plywood, floorboards and wallpaper.

Ozone also offers free consultations on safer building materials on Monday, Thursday and Friday. Call (03) 5322-6555 to make a reservation.

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