Our homes are places that we consider our sanctuaries from the outside world. They are our ‘safe’ places that we can escape to when we don’t want to be outdoors anymore, or when we have had a hard day at work and we just want to relax without being disturbed by anyone.
But did you know that in some cases our homes are far from being safe? I’m not referring to any material hazards such as cupboards that might fall off from crumbling walls or windows that don’t close properly (although they are obviously things that can make our homes unsafe).
What I am referring to is a mixture of things that you can and cannot see which could potentially cause our homes to be unsafe for us to live in. Here are some of the top hazards in many homes that can adversely affect our health.
Heating systems such as boilers, gas stoves, ovens and heaters are normally expected to work for an extremely long period of time. In the majority of cases this is so, but problems start to occur when these types of household equipment are poorly maintained.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas which is emitted from gas heating and cooking appliances that are faulty. Inhaling CO inhibits oxygen, and can cause coordination problems, fatigue, nausea and in extreme cases death.
You can buy inexpensive CO detectors to install in your home, which will alert you if you have a faulty appliance leaking this deadly gas.
Although for the most part homes built after the early 1990s do not contain asbestos in them, there are obviously millions of homes both in the United States and around the world that are built before then, and it is likely that those homes will contain asbestos.
Asbestos is essentially the name given to a group of naturally-occurring silicate minerals, and was used for generations as insulation materials in building materials and electrical wiring.
You may have heard in the media about employees of building firms suing their former employers by making asbestos claims; this is because exposure to asbestos (inhaling the fibres) can often cause mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer for which there is no cure.
Before doing any DIY work in your home, you should ensure that whatever you are about to remove, drill or cut through does not contain asbestos. It is often best to get samples of materials tested for asbestos (you can’t see asbestos), alternatively any materials like vinyl floor tiles which contain asbestos can be carefully sealed and covered over as long as they are not damaged.
One problem that you can see is the dreaded mold. This typically occurs in places like bathrooms where there is a build-up of condensation and nowhere for the water vapours to go.
Mold can cause a number of health problems such as throat irritations and coughs, skin irritations, headaches, sneezing fits and even respiratory problems (it is even known to cause people to develop asthma).