Our home is the one place we expect to be safe, but there could be hidden dangers lurking in the walls and making us ill. Here are just a few ways that your home could be making you sick and what you can do about it.
Dust doesn’t just make your home look dirty. Breathing in lots of dust could also be making you ill – it has been linked to lung conditions as serious as bronchitis.
You can reduce dust by regularly cleaning and keeping your home ventilated. An air purifier may be able to help reduce dust levels in the air. You can also reduce dust build-up on bedsheets and clothes by using fabric softeners.
Mold is an unpleasant-looking fungi that likes to grow in warm and damp conditions. Constantly breathing in mold spores can lead to a number of respiratory issues including Legionnaires disease.
To beat mold, you need to eliminate the source. Water leaks, rising damp and a lack of ventilation are all a common cause of mold. You can usually scrub off light mold with a dry cloth. More stubborn mold may require a solution of water and bleach to help kill it.
Radon is a gas found underground that can sometimes seep up through the earth into people’s homes – usually through cracked foundations. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer.
Radon levels are sometimes highest in winter. Does cold weather affect radon levels in the home? Not per se – it’s actually the lack of ventilation in winter that can cause radon levels to build up indoors. Opening windows or regularly running extractor fans could help to reduce radon levels. Fixing up your foundations could meanwhile stop radon entering your home to begin with. There are radon test kits that you can buy to check your home’s radon levels.
In years gone by, lead was commonly used around the home in paint and even in plumbing. Lead has been found to be toxic if ingested, leading to anaemia and kidney damage. This could be dust from lead paint in the air or lead in your home’s water as a result of lead piping.
Old homes built before the 1970s are more likely to contain lead. You can buy a lead test kit to check if your home’s paint or water contains lead. If you find lead in your home, a specialist lead removal company should be hired to get rid of it (it could be dangerous to remove it yourself).
Asbestos is a construction material that was once commonly used to make homes insulated and fire-resistant. It was banned after it was discovered that breathing in particles could lead to a deadly lung condition called mesothelioma.
Asbestos is generally safe as long as it hasn’t been damaged. Nonetheless, you probably want to get rid of it if you find it in your home. DIY removal of asbestos is not recommended due to how dangerous it can be to handle – you’re much better off hiring a professional company to remove it.
Gas leaks are an obvious fire risk, but they can also result in poisoning from a deadly gas called carbon monoxide. Unlike many of the other dangers on this list which tend to be more long-term, carbon monoxide can kill you in a matter of hours.
This gas is colourless, odourless and largely undetectable to human senses. This is why you should always install a carbon monoxide monitor in your home to alert you if there is a leak. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include random nausea, tiredness and a sudden headache.
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This article is published in partnership with Mediabuzzer.