Americans spend an average of about 90 percent of their time indoors, majority of which is spent within the confines of their homes. It’s important to understand which household factors contribute to ailments and how they can be prevented. Below, we’ll discuss some of factors that can make you sick at home and what can be done to eradicate them.
Lead: Do you have a home built before 1978 that still has the original windows? If you answered yes to this question, it’s important to strongly consider replacing your windows ASAP. Why? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that the practice of opening & closing windows can agitate the lead based paint surrounding the windows which can cause lead paint particles to be released into the air. Anyone who is exposed to lead paint particles can experience brain & kidney damage, hearing and vision impairment, nerve problems. There are state and federal programs in place to ensure that testing is done effectively & correctly. Call 800-424-LEAD (the National Lead Information Center) to see who the service provider in your area is. Please know that home kits are not the most effective way to determine if your home has lead hazards. At Lindus Construction, we conduct lead testing on properties built prior to 1978 to ensure that homeowners are safe during the construction process.
Asbestos: An asbestos problem can become an even bigger problem when uncovered during a renovation. If inhaled, asbestos can cause several types of respiratory problems including cancer and scarring of the lungs. Flooring, insulation, plaster, caulk, ceiling tiles, paint and furnace ducts are common places that asbestos are found. The substance was banned from building materials in 1972. Asbestos, when not disturbed is not a health hazard. It only becomes one as the product starts to deteriorate and asbestos particles enter the air. If you wish to remove asbestos from your home, we recommend that you contact your local Better Business Bureau for the name of a reputable professional. DO NOT attempt to undertake this procedure if you are not a trained professional as serious health consequences are likely to occur.
Arsenic: Arsenic is a preservative that was used in wood furniture, fencing & decking prior to 2005. Its purpose was to keep the wood from rotting. Children that touch wood that contains arsenic and then place their hands in their mouth can be susceptible to side effects such as nausea. More severe side effects from long-term exposure are cancer & blindness. Arsenic can also leak into the ground and affect plants growing nearby. Arsenic is a threat only if the wood is not sealed so to be sure to use a sealer once per season.
Radon: Radon is a gas that is created when uranium breaks down in the soil, rocks andwater. In small amounts, it is not harmful to your health. However, in large amounts, radon can cause lung cancer. Radon can contaminate your drinking water, especially if it comes from a well. Because it is the lowest level in your home (and closest to the ground) radon can also be found in your basement. Sealing a home can help reduce radon levels. Home testing kits are available. Be sure to closely follow the directions on them because failure to do so can result in a false reading.
Carbon Monoxide: Like radon, carbon monoxide, is an odorless colorless gas that can be fatal but at a more rapid rate. Sources of carbon monoxide in the home can be: gas appliances with improper ventilation, a malfunctioning furnace and a clogged chimney. High levels can cause death rapidly. However, non-lethal levels can also cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Because these symptoms are similar to many other medical conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose carbon monoxide poisoning. We highly recommend a carbon monoxide detector for each level in your home. It is most effective when it placed close to the ceiling.
Moisture: When too much moisture can builds up, it causes mildew which leads to mold. One of mold’s favorite places to grow is the bathroom. To prevent mold, dry off all surfaces that collect standing water. It’s also important that your bathroom has proper ventilation. It’s recommended that you run a vent fan after every shower for at least 20 minutes. This will prevent mildew production. Make sure your fan is a true exhaust fan which dissipates the humid air. A fan that does not do this can vent damp air into an area such as your attic that encourages mold growth.
Household Cleaners: Believe it or not, household cleaners, the very thing that issupposed to protect you and your family from illness can actually cause them. Why? Components of the cleaner evaporate into the air and can be inhaled. Ingredients in cleaners such as bleach can make you dizzy, nauseous & light-headed. Fragrances in cleaners can also cause irritation because of the ingredients they are comprised of. Use natural cleaners with ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar and water when cleaning for a healthier home.
Kitchen Sponge: Sponges are an environmentally friendly alternative to paper towels. However, taking care of the environment in this case can be hazardous toyour health because cleaning them with a bleach solution may not completely eradicate germs leaving you susceptible to illness. The best ways to disinfect a sponge are to place it in the microwave in a small bowl of water for a minute or run it through a cycle in your dishwasher.
Your Bed: Dust mites are invisible to the naked eye but they can wreak havoc if you are allergic to them. Often found in beds, they can cause itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing, shortness of breath, etc. Wash your sheets and comforter weekly in hot water to minimize your exposure to dust mites. It’s also recommended that you wash or replace your pillow twice a year.
Call us now at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com to schedule a free in-home. Tune into AM 830 WCCO on Saturdays from 9:00-10:00am hosted by Denny Long and Andy Lindus to ask questions regarding your home improvement projects.