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Dec 04

Home Sick: Are Things in the Home Keeping You Under the Weather?

Your home is meant to be a place of comfort; somewhere you can go to feel safe and protected. But this isn’t always the case; your home—or rather, things inside your home—can actually be making you and your family sick.

 

The Prevalence of Danger in Your Home

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development report that over 30 million American homes have significant health problems. Over 20 million homes, for instance, contain lead paint and 6.8 million have radon levels that are dangerously high.

 

Hazards in the Home

It might seem impossible to make every house 100 percent safe; even something like a flight of stairs can potentially be a hazard. Some hazards are easy to detect through things like carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors. However, there are several toxins that can exist in your home without you ever being aware of them. These include:

 

Radon: According to the EPA, radon is a type of gas that can’t be seen or smelled. It exists in the atmosphere naturally through the radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. It can seep into any kind of building, including homes, schools, and offices.

Radon is dangerous because high levels can cause lung cancer. In fact, around 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year are attributed to radon exposure. Only smoking causes more lung cancer. People who smoke and live in homes with high radon levels are at very high risk for lung cancer.

Thankfully, it’s easy to minimize your exposure to radon. You can have your home tested for radon levels and, if they are high, install a radon reduction system. Even high levels can be drastically minimized through these systems.

 

Mold: A mold-free home may be nearly impossible—mold spores exist everywhere. But not all molds are bad; of the 100,000 species, only around 50 can make you sick.

Unfortunately, mold allergies are quite common; around a third of the population is allergic. When an allergy exists, symptoms may include cold-like symptoms, headaches, swelling, and breathing problems. For people who are very young, elderly, or asthmatic, these mold allergies can cause severe problems.

You can help prevent mold in your home by fixing plumbing leaks (and other water problems) as soon as they happen. If mold already exists, scrub it off with detergent and water before letting it dry completely. In some cases, if the mold is on absorbent or porous materials (such as ceiling tiles), the materials may need to be thrown away.

 

Pet Dander: Between 15 and 30 percent of people with allergies have an allergy to cats or dogs. This means that fur and dander can make you sick. Obviously, the best way to avoid pet dander in the home is to not have pets. But for the animal lover who refuses this path, there are a few other things that can be done. These include keeping surfaces clean and uncluttered; replacing carpet with hardwood floors or tile; wearing a dust mask while vacuuming; installing an air cleaner to the HVAC system; washing pets on a weekly basis; and leaving the household chores that involve animals (such as cleaning out the litter box) to family members who don’t have allergies.

If people with allergies are planning on visiting your home, it may also be courteous to give them a heads up. If their allergies are particularly severe, you might need to meet elsewhere.

 

This article was provided by Samantha Greenbaum, health-conscious mother of two. If you suspect you’re health has been compromised from materials within your home or workplace, Samantha encourages you to contact Shrader Law.

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