Just how safe is your home? Most of us know the obvious hazards to look out for, but hidden in the walls there could be other dangers lurking. Here are just a few health hazards to look out for, how you can spot them and what you can do to eradicate these hazards.
Carbon monoxide is one the biggest killers in homes. It’s an odourless, colourless gas that can sometimes leak out as the result of a faulty furnace or gas water heater. The best way to detect this gas is by installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home – you should then open windows to ventilate the home and get out as soon as you can. A professional gas plumber will be able to deal with the leak.
Once heralded as a miracle material, this fire-proof insulating mineral can be extremely dangerous – if fibres come off and are breathed in, there’s a high risk of developing a cancer known as mesothelioma. Asbestos is generally safe if left undisturbed, but many homeowners prefer to remove it just to be safe. There are companies that specialise in asbestos roof repair and replacement. You should never attempt to remove asbestos yourself.
Many homes used to have lead pipes, although this is very rare nowadays and only likely with some older properties. Lead paint is more commonplace and can be dangerous if you have kids or pets – peeling lead paint could be toxic if ingested. To remove lead paint, you may want to invest in a HEPA vacuum and respirator to avoid breathing in lead paint dust. Alternatively, you could hire professionals to do the job for you.
Radon is a colourless and odourless gas that comes from the earth. It can be very toxic and is believed to cause lung cancer. Radon may enter the home through a basement and levels can build up if a home isn’t ventilated. In order to detect it, you should buy a radon testing kit. Fitting a radon sump is the most effective means if getting rid of radon.
VOCs are carbon-based chemicals that can be given off by various products including paints, adhesives, cleaning chemicals, varnishes and upholstery fabrics. They can cause dizziness, headaches and nausea for many people, and can also lead to asthma or more serious conditions such as organ failure if exposed to for a long time. Some products will only give off VOCs when burnt such as vinyl floors or fabric upholstery, whilst the likes of paints and adhesives may only give off toxic vapours whilst drying. You can reduce the risk of getting poisoned by these materials by only using low-VOC products and avoiding burning anything with plastic in.
Caused by damp, mould is a fungus that commonly grows indoors. Not only is it unsightly, it can also be bad for our respiratory system. If left to thrive, there is a high risk of breathing in spores, which could lead to conditions as serious as legionnaires. Remove mould if you find it in your home using a sponge. Try to find the source if you can – a water leak, rising damp or simply a lack of ventilation could be causing it.