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The Hidden Health Hazards In Your Home

By now we all know to keep the medicine out of children’s reach, watch our step on the staircase and avoid mixing household chemicals like a mad scientist. But while it may be easy to avoid the obvious dangers, you might be surprised to learn about some of the hidden hazards that could be making you sick.

1. Legionella

Keeping cool on those hot summer days might be hazardous to your health. Legionella is a pneumonia-inducing bacteria that thrives in wet environments like industrial air conditioners, residential hot water systems and pipes. Legionella is a serious problem, responsible for 2 – 5 percent of the 600,000 pneumonia cases that send people to hospital in the U.S yearly.

Avoiding Legionella means turning up the heat! Run your taps at 140°F for about 10 minutes (be careful of scalding) every few months.

2. Asbestos

Asbestos was once considered a great building material. It’s strong, fire-retardant, and makes for great insulation. The only problem is that it’s a serious carcinogen. When asbestos breaks down it will crumble and flake, creating a dust that can get lodged into the lungs and cause mesothelioma, a rare but deadly cancer.

Think you might have asbestos in the home? Leave it alone! Isolate the area, don’t disturb the material and contact a professional for a lab test.

3. Lead

Ingesting this highly toxic metal can cause problems in the brain, nervous system, blood and kidneys. Prior to 1960, lead was frequently used in paint for homes. This paint can peel and crack, mixing in with household dust. Even if your home doesn’t have the misfortune of a 40-year-old paint job, you may not be in the clear. Lead was also used in piping up until around 1978, meaning it may be leeching into your drinking water.

To find out if you’ve got lead in your pipes, call your local health and environment officials for more information.

4. Mold

While it’s unpleasant to find mold on your morning toast, household mold is a far more serious problem. Mold is a fungus that comes in a variety of colors and has a dank, musty smell. Exposure to mold can turn you into a coughing, wheezing mess; not to mention its nasty tendency to cause skin rashes and irritate your eyes. While the common areas for mold are damp ceiling tiles, insulation, and carpeting, mold can also show up in unexpected places like front-loading washing machines.

Think you’ve got mold? Look for discolorations and follow your nose! The telltale smell is often the first sign of trouble.

Picture Credit Mold Remediation

5.  Radon

Radon is a toxic radioactive gas that occurs naturally when uranium decays. You can’t smell, see, or taste this uninvited guest, making it even more deadly. Radon gas can seep through soil and up into cracks in the foundations of homes where it accumulates. It’s hard to imagine uranium being a serious threat, but it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer! Over 20,000 deaths per year are attributed to Radon in homes.

The good news is that testing for Radon is a simple process, and fixing the problem is usually uncomplicated.

Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not consulting on business strategy, she’s obsessing over how to decorate her home or writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

  • Keith R

    Reading this might make me paranoid about being in my house! Actually this is a good thing to know about.