We often install security systems and high-tech locks on our doors to make our homes safer for our families, but what about those health and safety hazards that might be lingering inside your home? Here is a look at some common household toxins that you should be aware of for a healthier and safer home for your family.
“Are you aware of the health
and safety hazards that
might be lingering inside
Ammonia and bleach
Ammonia and bleach are dangerous on their own, and they can be deadly when combined. Ammonia, on its own, is extremely volatile and can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Bleach, meanwhile, is a strong corrosive that can also irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. It can also cause vomiting or coma if ingested. Combining ammonia and bleach will produce fumes that may be deadly, so never combine cleaning chemicals that contain either ingredient.
Asbestos is perhaps the most well known health hazard in homes. But just how dangerous is it? Asbestos, which in the past has commonly been used to insulate homes, has been linked to three major diseases: asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. All three can develop as a result of asbestos fiber entering the lungs, and symptoms can take several years to appear. Asbestos exposure most often affects workers who work directly with asbestos, but even still, it’s important to reduce your risk of asbestos exposure as much as possible. If there are any materials in your home that you believe may contain asbestos, be sure not to touch them and to leave those materials alone. A contractor who is experienced in handling asbestos should help you if you are planning on making any changes that would disturb the asbestos.
Coal tar driveway sealant
Here’s one that you probably haven’t heard of. Did you know that coal tar based sealants can pose some major risks for your water supply? Coal tar based sealants, which are sometimes used to seal blacktop driveways, contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which are known to cause cancer and various genetic mutations. They become most dangerous when it rains, and chemicals from the sealant run off into the local drinking water supply. If you need to seal a blacktop driveway, be sure to use asphalt sealant instead.
You’ve probably heard a thing or two about the hazards of lead paint in a home. Exposure to lead paint dust or chips can cause serious health problems, especially in children and pregnant women. The most common symptoms of lead poisoning include cognitive decline, fatigue, nausea, constipation, headache, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and complications with pregnancy. Sometimes lead poisoning can even lead to death.
The use of lead based paint in homes has been banned since 1978, but it’s important to be aware of the risks of lead exposure in homes built before 1978. An estimated 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1977 contain lead based paint, while 69% of homes built between 1940 and 1959 contain lead based paint and 87% of homes built before 1940 contain lead paint. If you believe your home might contain lead based paint, it’s important to hire a contractor who is trained in working around lead paint any time you are undergoing a home project that would disturb lead paint.
Don’t forget to consider other painted items in your home, whether they have lead based paint or not. Do you have old metal furniture with chipping paint, for example? If so, any paint chips could be ingested by a pet or small child, as this article points out. Consider having items such as these refinished with a much safer powder coat, or toxin-free paint.
Did you know that mold can pose some major risks to your health as well? While mold may be natural in an outdoor environment, it can significantly reduce air quality when allowed to proliferate indoors. Family members may develop serious allergies, with symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, eye redness, and skin rash. Mold can also trigger severe episodes and difficult breathing in individuals with asthma. The most effective way to prevent mold formation in your home is to practice strict moisture control. This article has more information on the risks of mold exposure and how you can make your home mold-free. (Image source:)
Pesticides have been linked to the development of childhood cancers, so it’s vitally important to be aware of the risks of pesticides in and around your home. Pesticides lurk not only in bug repellants but also on the produce you regularly buy at the grocery store. To reduce your family’s exposure to pesticides, start by choosing foods grown with fewer pesticides and cleaning produce thoroughly as soon as it enters your kitchen. In addition, refrain from using chemical pesticides and herbicides in and around your home, opting for natural and organic alternatives instead.
You may be unfamiliar with the word “phthlatate,” but chances are you have come into contact with phthalates before. You’ll find these in all kinds of household cleaning products and toiletries that contain synthetic fragrances. Phthlatates are known to have negative effects on the endocrine system, which can result in birth defects, reduced fertility, developmental disorders, allergies, and asthma.
So, make it a point to replace synthetically scented household cleaners and toiletries with either unscented or naturally scented alternatives.
About the Author
Maurine Anderson originally hails from Washington, DC, but is now enjoying life out west in Salt Lake City. She is a professional writer and blogger who in her free time loves to create new cake recipes, travel, and practice her hand at photography. She tends to geek out over linguistics, cats, and all things Scandinavia. Check out more of her writing at MaurineDashney.com and find her on Instagram @maurinedashney.
Were you aware of the dangers associated with these common household toxins?
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