Is your home making you sick? Here are just a few hidden health hazards that could be lurking in your home’s walls.
Radon is an invisible and odorless gas that can cause lung cancer over time. It seeps up through the earth and enters homes through cracks in the foundations. Some areas are more prone to radon. It can particularly be a danger to homes with little ventilation – the radon has nowhere to escape and can therefore build up inside the home.
There are radon test kits that you can use to measure radon levels in your home. If your home’s radon levels are high, you may want to consider sealing up the foundations of your home to prevent the gas from entering. Keeping your home well ventilated can also prevent radon poisoning – this could include regularly opening windows or using extractor fans to allow air to escape.
Mold is an unsightly fungus that commonly grows in dark and damp conditions. Breathing in mold spores has been known to cause respiratory conditions such as asthma – and even more serious illnesses such as Legionnaires. Flooding, leaks and rising damp are some of the biggest causes of mold. It can also commonly grow in rooms that aren’t ventilated – condensation can build up on walls and provide the perfect breeding ground for mold.
You can usually scrub away small amounts of mold with a dry sponge, however more serious cases may require professional mold removal. When it comes to preventing mold, try to discourage damp conditions in your home. Water damage from flooding or leaks should be cleaned up as soon as possible to prevent mold – there are flood cleanup services that can help with this. You may also want to consider ways of preventing condensation such as hanging wet clothes outdoors and keeping your home ventilated (this could be done by opening windows or by installing extractor fans). Electric dehumidifiers can also be effective at preventing mold.
Asbestos is a material that was once used in construction for insulating and fire-proofing homes. A few decades ago, it was found to be potentially dangerous – fibres from damaged asbestos have the potential to cause a deadly lung condition called mesothelioma. The use of asbestos in construction has been banned in most countries around the world, so if your home is recently built it’s unlikely to contain it. Traces of asbestos have been removed from many older homes, however there are thought to be a lot of properties that still contain this material.
Asbestos isn’t dangerous unless disturbed, however many people still like to remove it from their homes as a precaution. You should hire a professional asbestos removal service to carry out this job.
Carbon monoxide is deadly gas that is invisible and odorless. It can cause rapid poisoning if breathed in and can result in death– initial symptoms usually include headaches, dizziness, nausea and unusual tiredness. Carbon monoxide is likely to enter your home via a gas leak. This could be anything from a crack in a pipe to a leaky gas hob.
The best way to detect carbon monoxide is by using a carbon monoxide detector. Most modern homes already have these installed – if you’re renting a home, it could be a legal requirement to have one fitted. If the alarm goes off, you should open as many windows in your home as possible and get out quickly. An emergency gas plumber will be able to find the source of the gas leak .
Lead is a material that was commonly used in paint and even in plumbing until the 1970s when it was banned for health and safety reasons. Lead is a poisonous substance if ingested – it can cause organ failure and other complications.
You can use a lead test kit to check your walls and water supply for lead. If traces of lead are found, it’s worth hiring a lead removal company. Stripping lead paint isn’t something you should attempt yourself.
VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are a chemical found in many modern paints. They have been linked to health problems ranging from headaches to kidney damage. On top of this, they are thought to cause environmental damage through their harmful emissions.
There are a growing number of low-VOC and no-VOC paints. Choosing these paints when decorating your home could prevent the risk of future health problems.