Our homes are our safe havens and where we feel most comfortable and protected, so it’s hard to believe there could be places that have possible health hazards lurking where we can’t even see them. While it’s a bitter pill to swallow, there are ways to look for these hazards, and sometimes there are even ways to fix the problem yourself.
Here is a list of potential health hazards living in your home, and how to help keep your house as safe and healthy as possible.
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Chemicals and Cleaners
Research continues to show many household cleaners contain unsafe chemicals that, over time, can contribute to long-term health issues, not to mention that they are safety hazards for small children. In addition, you might have different types of unsafe chemicals in your garage, basement, or under the sink. Take a moment to determine what you have and what you can safely dispose of, then store what you must keep in a safe place. Consider switching to homemade cleaners, which cost a fraction of what you would buy in the store. And if you avail the services of a housekeeper, make sure they understand your preferences.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are everywhere, but they thrive on moisture. If left untreated, they can lead to serious structural damage in your home and can cause a variety of health issues. If you see mold growing in your home, it’s best to determine where it’s coming from and to immediately fix the problem. If it’s too big a job to inspect or repair, then it’s time to call in a professional. The sooner you address the mold problem, the sooner you can help yourself and your house.
Keep moisture and humidity to a minimum, and keep areas like bathrooms and basements well-ventilated to avoid growth of mold and mildew.
Environmental allergens are a huge contributor to allergy problems, and many environmental allergies stem from the dust mite, a microscopic creature that feeds on dead skin cells. Dust mites burrow into the fibers of bedding, furniture, toys, and curtains, and they contribute to allergy and asthma flare-ups. Using a HEPA filter, vacuum your carpet, furniture, and curtains each week. Wash bed linens and towels weekly in hot water. If you have rugs that can be laundered, wash those weekly too. Many stores carry covers for pillowcases and mattresses to cut down on dust mite exposure.
Most homes built prior to the late 1970s will likely have lead paint and/or asbestos. But just because those are in your house doesn’t necessarily mean they are immediate health risks.
Asbestos is typically found in items related to furnace and boiler systems, as well as in building and structural areas. If these types of materials are in good condition and not showing any signs of wear or exposure, then it’s best to leave the area alone. If you do find wear or deterioration, then it’s best to seal off the area and call in an expert. This same rule applies to lead paint. If the paint in your house is in new and good condition, then leave it alone. If paint is chipping or damaged, it’s time to test for lead paint levels, and if found high, consider hiring a professional.
All medications, even over-the-counter medicines, pose a safety risk if left within reach of small children. Be sure to keep all medications put up and away from kids. If you have narcotic prescriptions, make sure to lock these in a safe or box. If you have expired medications, look for a community drop-off, or search for other methods of safe disposal.
Though it may seem harmless, clutter can lead to a number of hazards. Clutter gathering dust can aggravate asthma and allergies. When furniture juts out into walkways or piles of old newspapers or books tip over, they become a tripping hazard. Clutter can also affect our mental health by making us more stressed and less able to focus.
Survey your home. Are there any rooms that need to be de-cluttered? Sometimes the problem can be solved simply with a little re-decorating or organizing. But you might also find that you have a good collection of items that can be moved to storage or be donated.