I’m always on the lookout for ways to help you create a happy, healthy home life. To make your home a safe haven, it is smart to clear out toxins and toxic products and use safe alternatives that always are available. For example, I avoid toxic fumes found in most household cleaning products by using pure, powerful MIRACLE II products for home and body care. I also clean silver with toothpaste to avoid fumes of traditional silver polish.
I’ve made many simple changes and choices to protect my home environment. I’ve also had my home inspected to avoid highly toxic substances that can bring about disease if safety precautions are not met. I encourage you to make sure your home is free of the top 9 health hazards. This list was contributed by health researcher, Frank Mangano, founder of NaturalHealthOnTheWeb.com where you can sign up for his free newsletter.
Avoid The Top 9 Health Hazards In Your Home:
1. Carbon monoxide
We hear stories of families who died peacefully at the comfort of their own home, not even knowing that it will be their fateful night – no struggles, no inkling of any impending doom. These are families who were victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas and inhaling an ample amount of it will cause sudden ailment, such as weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion, and worse, death.
At home, potential sources of carbon monoxide are water heaters, gas, oil or coal burning appliances, indoor portable flameless chemical heaters, gas refrigerators, chimneys and generator situated inside the house. All these appliances, without inadequate ventilation system, will cause the build-up of carbon monoxide inside the home. As carbon monoxide accumulates in the air and inside the body, it replaces oxygen in the blood. Since there is a decrease in oxygen levels, tissues and vital organs will fail to function.
Infants, elderly and people who are suffering from chronic diseases are most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. It is therefore important to install proper exhaust systems for your gas appliances; likewise, it is wise if you choose appliances that have the seal of the national testing agencies. Additionally, try not to use a grill and burn charcoal inside the house. Some people use gas range or oven as a heater and this is a big no-no. Most importantly, be wary of situations that will allow build-up of carbon monoxide inside your home.
Houses built between 1930 and 1950 have asbestos insulation. Some roofings, shingles and sidings are made of asbestos cement. Walls painted before the year 1977 have asbestos in the paints and patching compounds. Also, gaskets in the furnace and stove doors can release asbestos when used.
Asbestos is a microscopic mineral fiber that can affect health. Studies have shown that high levels of inhaled asbestos can be a risk for developing lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. The real health hazard is asbestos that forms dust because when it is inhaled, it accumulates in the body which causes disease. Materials made of asbestos that are in good condition are not hazardous. Only those that are torn, ripped or damaged must be removed and repaired by experts in handling this type of material, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Houses which were built before the 70’s have used paint with lead. Lead was added to the paint to give it extra sheen. But as it turns out, lead is toxic to the human body. Prolonged exposure to lead paint, especially among infants and children, causes physical and mental developmental delays, low IQ scores, and increasing behavioral problems. Lead at high levels (more than 80µg/dL of blood) can cause seizures and coma that may eventually lead to death.
Lead can be found in paint, soil and contaminated water. Materials with lead-based paint should not be burned or sanded. The lead dust can easily enter the human body and produce fatal diseases. Have your house tested by the EPA or the Department of Housing and Urban Development if you suspect your family is being exposed to high doses of lead. In addition, provide your family with foods rich in calcium and iron. Those who are enriched with these minerals absorb less lead in their bodies.
Unscrewing light bulbs has proven to be harmful if the bulb breaks. When unscrewing a dead bulb, handle the base instead of the top. Once the bulb breaks, mercury will spill. Although the mercury content of a CFL averages 5mg per bulb (as opposed to mercury thermometer with 500 mg of mercury), accumulation in large amounts is lethal. When handling broken light bulbs, restrict access to the area with broken pieces for 15 minutes, this will allow the mercury to aerosolize. When cleaning the broken glasses, never use a vacuum cleaner. Place all broken materials in a plastic bag and seal it carefully. Exposure to elemental mercury in poorly-ventilated areas can cause symptoms such as tremors, irritability, insomnia, neuromuscular changes, and headaches. It will also affect the kidneys and lungs, and will eventually cause death, especially for high exposure.
Many of the furniture at home make use of pressed wood using adhesive that contains urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins. Among those which have high formaldehyde are particleboard, hardwood plywood paneling, and medium density fiberboards. Medium density fiberboards, which are used for cabinets, furniture tops and the front portion of drawers have the highest emission of formaldehyde, according to studies.
Formaldehydes are pungent smelling gas which can cause one’s eyes to water. Some people who inhale large amounts feel a burning sensation in their throat and eyes, and experiences nausea and difficulty of breathing. The gas also causes asthma attacks, or may trigger asthma and allergy for those who are sensitive. But the worst health effect is its carcinogenic effect. Studies were made that showed how formaldehyde caused cancer to animals, as well as, humans.
The best form of prevention is to avoid buying furniture made of pressed wood with UF resins. Choose products with lower formaldehyde resin, if you can. If it cannot be prevented, just make sure that the new furniture is properly ventilated.
6. Radon gas
Soil has naturally-occurring radioactive radon gas from uranium, which is found in any soil in the US. Radon is considered as the second leading cause of lung cancer. It is colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. As uranium decays, it emits radon gas. For poorly ventilated buildings, radon accumulates in large concentrations.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies radon as carcinogenic to human. If there is too much accumulation of radon inside a confined space and is inhaled in large amounts, the person will have higher risk of getting cancer of the respiratory system.
Sponges, whether old or new, harbor thousands of bacteria per one-inch square. Most of these bacteria, such as Salmonella, can cause diseases. Food scraps and other substances can remain in the sponges after dishwashing. Because sponges are wet, bacteria, like E. coli and some bacterial spores, thrive in them. To prevent bacteria and diseases from spreading, rinse them daily, preferably at night so it can dry completely. Every three to four times a week, microwave the mildly wet sponge for 2 minutes; research by USDA has proven that this method can kill 99.9% of all bacterial spores. The dishwasher method can deactivate bacteria up to 99% as long as the wash cloth or sponge is left within the whole wash and dry cycle. If a dishwasher or microwave is unavailable, soaking the sponge for 3 minutes on 10% bleach solution, can eradicate up to 87% of bacteria.
When you open your cupboard or drawer and you see black ovoid materials the size of rice grain, this is a sign of mice infestation. Feces, urine and saliva of mice, particularly deer mice, may contain the deadly Hantavirus. It is hard to determine if the droppings are from deer mice, so it is better to take precaution and assume that most rodents carry the Hantavirus. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a disease caused by exposure to Hantavirus. Flu-like symptoms are felt initially by those infected; followed by shortness of breath and, in many cases, the victim dies.
Mice droppings should be treated with bleach or household disinfectant to deactivate the virus before sweeping them. Make sure to use tight-fitting mask while sweeping the droppings. But the best strategy to prevent HPS is to control rodents in and outside the home.
9. Toxic molds
Mold may be anywhere, whether indoors or outdoors. Mold is a fungus that lives on plants and fibers. They thrive in wet or damp surfaces, and are usually found in bathrooms, kitchens and the basements. The most common of these molds that is common in environments with poor indoor air quality is of the genus Stachybotrys, a slimy greenish substance, or popularly called the toxic black mold.
Black mold is pathogenic, meaning it causes diseases or symptoms of disease. The source of its pathogenicity is its byproduct called mycotoxins, which may be spread through the air due to its minute size. It enters the body and develops into symptoms of the disease called toxic mold exposure syndrome. Runny nose, watery eyes, sinus drainage, headache and cough are the most common complaints. They are symptoms that can also be found in other diseases, so many of the victims are wrongly diagnosed. Other symptoms include acne, dandruff, food allergies, asthma, skin rashes, lethargy, memory loss, mood swings, etc.
Black mold may be controlled by keeping the humidity level inside the house to 40-50%. Generous ventilation should be available and fixing any leaks from pipes, roof and walls will avoid moisture and prevent molds from growing. Cleaning up, especially the bathroom, and drying the house thoroughly can help in the reduction of mold growth.