The average home is full of hidden hazards. Fortunately, it's not always hard to remedy the situation when these issues are found. Below is a look at five surprising health risks that could exist in your home.
1. Dust Mites
Dust mites are tiny bugs that feed on dust and dead skin in the average home. They're especially likely to congregate in carpet, stored clothing and bedding. Most people respond to dust mites by sneezing and snoring. For people suffering from asthma, however, dust mites can cause asthma attacks that could be deadly. Homeowners can control dust mites by washing affected items in the hottest water possible, using HEPA filter vacuums and reducing humidity in the home.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are toxic chemicals common in several products found in the average home. Formaldehyde, benzene and methylene chloride are three examples of VOCs that are used in everyday items such as air fresheners, paints and cleaning agents. Upon contact with VOCs, people may suffer headaches and irritation to the eyes, throat and lungs. Over time, VOC exposure can result in damage to the kidneys, liver and nervous system and even cancer. Consumers can choose from a host of VOC-free products to avoid these issues.
3. Carbon Monoxide
Colorless, odorless and tasteless, carbon monoxide is a silent killer of more than 500 people each year. Carbon monoxide is produced by burning, such as in fireplaces, furnaces, gas clothes dryers and hot water heaters. Early effects of exposure include dizziness, fatigue and confusion. With heavier exposure, carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness and death.
4. Poor Air Quality
A number of chemicals have direct ill effects on health when present in a home's air, but a variety of factors can reduce a home's air quality and lead to health problems. Cooking fumes or a filthy home air cooling system can reduce sleep quality and contribute to heart disease over years of exposure. It's vital to regularly bring in fresh air and have a home's cooling system cleaned regularly to prevent this from becoming a problem.
Lead isn't used in modern paints, but it's still common in the paint found inside older homes. Drinking water, plastic toys and gasoline are all potential sources of lead. Over time, lead poisoning can raise blood pressure dangerously, cause joint problems and result in infertility. If children are exposed to lead from an early age, they may go on to suffer from brain damage and anemia. For these reasons, homeowners should have their homes tested for lead and choose lead-free products whenever possible.