Most people consider their home to be a place to get away from the problems of everyday life – a haven that will protect them from the woes of the world.
But, in fact, your home could be one of the biggest ‘woes’ of all. Many people don’t realize how many significant health risks might be lurking right in their own household. Fortun
ately, the most serious o
f these problems can be detected and controlled effectively.
Start making your home safer today by looking for these common health risks:
Lead This home health danger can cause serious long-term problems, especially in children. If allowed to enter the body, lead can interfere with the functioning of a number of vital organs, including kidneys, intestines, heart, and nervous system. Most people associate lead exposure with paint, and that is indeed one of the more prevalent sources of this toxin. Although lead-based paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978, many houses are much older than that, meaning they have many layers of lead-based paint lying below other surfaces. Scraping, sanding, or otherwise disturbing these layers can release lead. But paint isn’t the only potential source of lead in a household. Despite efforts to eliminate or reduce lead in products in America, the recent influx of goods from China has brought a new spate of lead problems. Included among the Chinese-made products often found to have elevated lead levels are toys, jewelry, and drywall.
Experts say radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. And, making matters worse, this killer is relatively common. Radon gas occurs naturally and is found in soil. The problem comes when it leaks inside through cracks in basement floors or walls, then gets trapped in your house. But, fortunately, this risk can be detected and controlled. Radon detection kits are available at most hardware or home-improvement stores. Professional contractors have a number of effective methods for controlling radon gas once it’s detected.
Few people really give much thought to the dangers of sewage. Modern plumbing, sewers, and septic systems have created an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality regarding this home health risk. But the danger is still very real. Sewage backups can introduce toxic bacteria, parasites, and viruses into your home. These can be ingested into the body by not only hand-to-mouth contact, but in some cases simply by breathing the fumes. Contact can result in such diseases as gastroenteritis, hepatitis, and Weil’s disease. And one of the things that can make this danger especially sneaky, is the fact that it doesn’t always start inside the home. If your home has a septic system, it may be leaking sewage to the surface of your lawn if it’s not working properly. The sewage can then be tracked into your home via shoes, clothing, and items from the yard. A safe precaution is to have your septic system inspected by a licensed septic contractor at least once a year.
This silent killer is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. Worst of all, it’s produced in large quantities by some of your most frequently operated household systems. Carbon monoxide is a standard byproduct of combustion, and therefore is part of the normal operation of stoves and furnaces. If those systems are properly installed and are functioning correctly, all of the deadly gases are vented out the chimney or vent pipe. But cracked components, blocked or leaking vents, and deteriorating chimneys can release carbon monoxide into your home. Fortunately, many commonly available smoke detectors also monitor for carbon monoxide. This, in addition to regular inspections of your furnace, chimneys, and vents can minimize the risks.
Every home has at least a tiny bit of mold – it’s inevitable. And for most people, even relatively high mold levels aren’t a problem. But that’s if you’re 100-percent healthy and don’t have allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues. For those that do, mold can make the simple act of breathing painful, and trigger serious illnesses. Mold is usually hidden. It likes dark places, so it often flourishes behind walls, above ceilings, and below floor coverings. Fortunately, it can be detected and eliminated. Mold test kits are available at most hardware and home-improvement stores. Once detected, professional mold removal contractors can eliminate this hidden danger.
About the Author
David Bellm wrote this piece for Wind River Environmental. Wind River Environmental provides septic pumping and septic inspections in Massachusetts and surrounding areas. Browse www.WREnvironmental.com before your septic system costs skyrocket.