Hazardous chemicals can be found in a variety of environments, even within the safety of a home. Over the years, these “hidden” substances can affect the occupants’ health in several ways. Below is a list of some of the most notable of these dangers, including tips on how to prevent them:
1. Lead causes serious health issues and can often be found in lead-based paints (in older homes), soil, dust and tap water (if the home has lead pipes). The members of a family should be tested for lead levels, and, in the case of older homes, hiring a certified contractor to remove lead paint is recommended.
2. Mould exposure is especially harmful to those with respiratory diseases. Mould grows in damp areas with poor ventilation. A professional company, such as Inspect it All can be hired to check the levels and type of mould in your home and recommend next steps to remove it.
3. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas released from burning organic fuel in wood stoves, fireplaces, gas heaters and other heating devices. Proper ventilation is imperative to prevent CO contamination. Homes should include a CO detector and a professional should be hired to service furnaces.
4. Pesticides contain toxins that account for most childhood poisonings. Pesticides must always be stored in a locked cabinet and away from children. Those who handle pesticides should follow the instructions on the label and must wash their hands after each use.
5. Salmonella and E. Coli are bacteria transmitted through contaminated raw foods like meat and vegetables. These foods should be kept separate in the refrigerator and all meats must be cooked to safe temperatures. After cooking, the dishes that were in contact with raw meat need to be thoroughly washed.
6. Air fresheners contain Phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), substances linked to various health problems. It is recommended to replace commercial air fresheners with filter-based air purifiers.
7. Radon is a carcinogenic gas that seeps in through the soil and rocks under a house. Homes must be tested for Radon with a specialized monitoring device. A radon-abatement specialist should be hired, if the Radon level is above normal (2 to 4 picocuries per liter).
8. Aerosol sprays carry harmful gasses that trigger asthma and allergies. It’s recommended to protect the mouth and eyes when using sprays. Pump products are good replacements for hair sprays.
9. Plastics in toys or household products often contain BPA (Bisphenol A), Phthalates and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). When buying plastic products, the recycling symbols with the 1, 2, 4 and 5 numbers should be chosen, whenever possible.
10. Tap water may contain contaminants such as radioactive substances and industrial waste. To eliminate toxins from tap water, use a water purifier.
Awareness of these hidden dangers is only the first step. We must reduce or eliminate these harmful substances from our homes by taking action immediately.