A home is where we live and where we spend most of our time. It makes sense that our home environment should be the cleanest and safest environment that we can make it. Below are the top six items in a home that can cause health issues and how to protect yourself and your family.
Mold - What we lump generally into the category of "mold" are actually a really wide variety of "fungi" that enter homes via windows, vents, screen doors, pets or even are tracked in on our feet. Dry mold ittself does not cause many issues, but mold spores with moisture to feed on grow explosively and can chause chronic cough and fatigue, eye irritation, headaches, and skin rashes and many other symptoms. Untreated and with prolonged exposure, mold can cause asthma, vomiting, allergies and a compromised immunie system. This makes people in the home vulnerable to even further risks.
How do I combat or prevent mold?
- Dry up spills and repair leaks quickly.
- Remove or replace water damaged carpets.
- Avoid using carpet in rooms with water (kitchens, bathrooms, etc)
- Ventilate shower, laundry, and cooking areas thoroughly.
- Wash bathroom surfaces with mold killing cleaners.
- Keep humidity levels as low as you can in your home.
Lead Based Paint - Found most frequently in homes built before 1978, lead paint creates toxic dust when it cracks or peels. This can occur on both the inside and outside of your home. Lead is a toxic substance to everyone, but children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause negative effects, ranging including behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, and can lead to death, especially in high doses or with prolonged exposure.
How to help prevent lead poisoning in your home:
- This will likely only be an issue on homes built in 1978 or before. So if a home was built after that, lead based paints were not allowed on the market.
- If your home was built in 1978 or before, test it. You can use a home kit, but it is recommended that a certified lead inspector or a certified lead risk assessor do the tests.
- If your home tests positive for lead paint, you can hire a professional to remove and repaint. You can also:
- Clean floors, and other surfaces with WET scrubbers and cleaners (this helps remove the lead dust
- Use doormats and remove shoes to prevent lead dust on floors and in carpets.
- Wash hands and toys of young children often.
- Keep children away from peeling and chipped paint
Chemicals stored in the home - it seems obvious to regularly check for chemicals stored in the home but it is one of the most common health hazards, especially around children. We so often use harsh chemical cleaners, pain, plumbing and craft supplies that need to be stored properly.
How to protect against this health hazard in your home:
- Regularly inspect your home storage areas, under sinks, in closets, in bathroom vanities, and in in pantrys to make sure that stored chemicals are out of reach and ideally locked up.
- Make sure that chemicals are stored in cool, dry areas that are away from moisture damange and sources of flame.
- Get it tested. A professional radon test can tell you what your potential exposure level is.
- Since it is naturally occurring, a professional mitigator is needed to locate where the radon is coming from and what to do about it.
Carbon Monoxide - This colorless, tasteless, and odorless toxic gas found in the fumes of burnt carbon fuels. Wood, coal, charcoal, gasoline and others all produce significant amounts of carbon monoxide and they burn. Heaters, lanterns, generators, grills, fireplaces and furnaces, and even vehicles when parked in an unventilated garage can generate hazardous amounts of carbon monoxide that build up quickly in confined spaces.
How do I prevent CO poisoning in my home?
- Do not use gas, kerosene powered, charcoal, or other carbon based appliance to heat, cook, light or generate power in your home.
- Get a CO Detector and install it according to directions.
- When working in a garage or other confined space be sure to ventilate it properly. Open doors and windows to allow sufficient airflow.