The home is supposed to keep you healthy and protected from the risks of the big bad outdoors. Everything from bad weather to pollen is kept at bay, but the truth is that your home might not be as healthy as you think. Here, we’re going to look at some of the common contaminants we regularly let indoors, and some of the steps you can take to get rid of them.
From easy cheap updates to changes in your habits, you could create the safe haven your home is supposed to be:
Damned by dust
Simple, average dust in the household can become a risk when you let it build up. Even if it’s mundane, house dust can lead to or exacerbate issues such as asthma and allergies. However, it also regularly contains substances from pesticides, household chemicals, and even lead.
One way to make dust much easier to control is to swap out carpeting for smoother types of flooring, from wood to linoleum. Dust tends to cling to fabrics, so if you can’t make the switch, it’s important to choose a vacuum that has a HEPA filter and to use it frequently and in every corner you can. The bed can also be a haven for dust, so it’s important to choose mattresses and bedding that are easy to clean or hypoallergenic.
The risks of old homes
You might have no other option to live in a home that’s a little past its prime, or perhaps you’ve found one that’s full of classic charm that you just love. However, older homes do bring a higher rest of lead and asbestos. The former causes lead poisoning, which can be extremely dangerous for pregnant women and young children, while the latter can lead to a particularly dangerous form of lung cancer.
Having your home checked out by your local health department can help you identify those risks and make any replacements that you need to. If your home is newer, there’s significantly less risk of these threats as they have since been banned from being used in construction.
The soil beneath your home
Another common risk that you can easily test for in the home is radon. This is a gas that has no color or odor, and it can affect any home, regardless of whether it’s old or new. Radon is a gas that is formed naturally when the soil and rocks beneath the house break down. It can happen in any kind of home, whether there’s a basement or not, and even if the home is sealed and protected against most threats.
Radon is a significant threat, being the second known leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. Radon testing kits can easily be bought at most home stores and, if you do detect it, it’s wise to hire a certified radon specialist to protect the home from it.
In your water
We would all like to trust that the water we drink from our taps is safe and treated to ensure there are no contaminants. It is treated, to some degree, but several studies have shown it’s not as pure as we might like. The Berkey test results show that pharmaceutical runoff, pesticides, heavy metals, and other harmful elements are a lot more common in a wide variety of communities across the country.
This can include waterborne viruses and pathogenic bacteria, such as salmonella, that could potentially make people in the home very sick. High quality water filters are able to remove these elements from the water to degrees greater than 99.9%, ensuring that you can drink, make coffee, and otherwise use the water with peace of mind.
Watch out for pesticides
Pesticides are commonly used to rid the home of all kinds of pests, including mice, rats, roaches, and garden intruders. However, using them over time, especially in large quantities, could be harmful to your home, especially to children and pets. For pets, they could be just as exposed to the pesticide as the pests that you’re trying to eliminate.
For children, pesticides have been shown to cause not only asthma and other allergies, but significant brain development issues, including learning disabilities. Natural pest prevention, such as cleaning up food residue, keeping the garden trim and tidy, keeping food containers closed, and effectively sealing the home works just as well for keeping pests out.
In common household chemicals
Many common household products are more dangerous than we give them credit for. Even if we store them safely, follow the instructions, and ensure they’re kept out of reach of children, they can still pose some real danger to health and safety in the home. Air fresheners contain ingredients like formaldehyde which can irritate the lungs when inhaled and petroleum distillates, which can irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs. Bleach often contains sodium hypochlorite which can not only irritate but cause serious damage to the skin and respiratory system.
There are plenty of excellent home-made, green cleaning product recipes you can find online and a simple diluted mix of vinegar and lemon juice can be perfect for wiping down surfaces and eliminating bacteria.
In your morning routine
Though it might not be part of the home, per se, makeup and skincare products might be a very frequent part of your life and does have similar potential to cause real harm. one of the ingredients worth avoiding if you find them on the label is parabens, which are preservatives that can mimic estrogen, causing hormonal imbalances and even having links to breast cancer.
Fragrance and perfume are just as concerning, as it’s often a term used to cover up more recognizable ingredients that could be allergens, irritants, and even carcinogens. It’s important to learn what to avoid when buying cosmetic products. There’s little regulation of the market, so you have to keep an eye out.
Hopefully, the tips above have highlighted the real threats that could be building inside your home, but also the solutions that can help get them under control. You’re not likely to fall immediately sick from the contaminants lurking in your home, but you never know what chronic risks you could be exposing yourself to.