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Do you find yourself getting the sniffles when it’s not even the allergy season or
do you often feel under the weather while you’re in your own house? Believe me, the
chemicals in your furniture, the mold growing beneath your kitchen sink, water filter
pitchers, couch cushions or something even worse is making you sick.
Do you know that over time, these household toxins can build up in your body and
overload your system? Read on to find out some of the most common toxins in the home
which can be deadly, and how you can get rid of household toxins.
This colorless, odorless gas is second-leading cause of lung cancer. Radon seeps
from the soil and can enter your house through cracks in floors and walls and becomes
trapped inside, building up over time. Getting high levels of radon in your home
is a extremely rare but a very serious possibility.
To protect your health, buy a radon test kit from a hardware store (they cost between
$10 to $20) and place it in your home for 2 days. If levels are high, it’s a good
idea to hire a radon removal expert to come in and install a randon control system
which normally takes a day to install. Cost generally ranges from $700-$1,500.
Arsenic is a poison that has been associated with cancer and has a wide range of
harmful side effects. Up until 2005, arsenic was used as a preservative for wood.
Any home with a wooden deck, porch or fence built before 2005 may be at risk.
The chemical can seep into the soil and kill nearby plants. It can also come off
on your hands when touched, making it especially dangerous for young kids who are
fond of putting hands in their mouths.
If you’re concerned about the possibility of arsenic poisoning, the simple solution
is to treat the wood with an oil-based stain each year so that when it’s touched,
only the stain is touched and not the arsenic.
Houses built before 1978 were painted with lead-based paint. If this paint is ingested
or inhaled (such as when it gets ground down to a fine powder on your windowsills),
it can lead to long-term developmental and behavioral problems. A lead particle the
size of a single grain of salt will elevate a child’s blood-lead level.
Call your state housing department for a recommendation for private labs that do
a test for lead. If the test is positive, make sure that you cover all your walls
with a coat of encapsulant to prevent further contamination.
You might also want to consider replacing those windows and baseboards if they’ve
been around since the 70s.
Formaldehyde has been known to cause allergy-like symptoms, nausea as well as dizziness.
Liver and central nervous system damage is possible through increased exposure.
If you’ve recently added new floors, carpets or furniture to your home, you might
be at risk to formaldehyde. The adhesive used to lay carpet and to hold together
wood furniture and floors usually contains formaldehyde which then gets released
into the air.
The good thing is, formaldehyde dissipates into the air, so if you’ve had your new
carpet for a few months, it should have all circulated away by now. If not, leave
your windows open for a little while after you get that new furniture to allow formaldehyde
to properly dissipate.
You can also ask the carpet company to let the carpeting air out in the factory for
a few weeks before delivering it. If you can afford to spend a bit more money, then
look for improvements and furniture made using VOC (volatile organic compounds) free
Though not quite a serious health risk like the above household toxins, mold can
lead to a myriad of health problems including general congestion, eye and skin irritation,
shortness of breath and serious mold infections of the lungs.
Mold is everywhere – where there’s water (and especially water damage), there’s a
high possibility of mold growth. If you have less than 10 square feet of mold damage,
you can clean it with water and detergent, but anything more than that, it’s better
to hire a professional to prevent the mold spores from spreading around the house.
However, getting the professionals in can be expensive. And, not all mold damage
is covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Check your policy because coverage
and limitations may vary.