• Charlotte Meier (guest blogger with

How To Prevent Your Home From Making You Sick

If it seems like you and your family are sick more often than your friends and other family members, the culprit may be your home. A surprising number of Americans have mold, poor air quality, and hazardous cleaning products and do not realize it. These home issues and materials can be the root of allergies, asthma, rashes, and other health issues. If you suspect that your home is making you ill, take the proper steps to prevent it from affecting your health any longer.

Test for Common Home Hazards

Homeowners may not realize that the building materials within their home pose potential health risks. One of the best ways to check your home for some of the most common hazards is to hire a home inspector. Most home inspectors go beyond checking the foundation and for evidence of termites and look for evidence of mold, mildew, and old paint that may contain lead. They will check air ducts, heating vents, chimneys, and other areas of the home that may be hiding health hazards. While home inspectors typically do not test for lead paint or radon, they can make suggestions for doing so yourself and point out areas of your home which they think should be tested.

Testing for lead paint is a straightforward process, and most homeowners choose to do it themselves instead of hiring pricey professionals. Your home is especially at risk for lead-based paint if it was built prior to 1978. Easy-to-use kits are often available at home improvement centers and hardware stores and involve a simple swab or sample collection. There are strict guidelines for removing lead paint, so if your house tests positive, you should contact professionals to properly handle the issue.

Most homeowners also opt to skip the expensive professional radon gas test and purchase a testing kit themselves. The United States Environmental Protection Agency labels acceptable radon levels as those below 4 pCi/L. The best way to do the test is to adhere strictly to the instructions on the kit; should your levels be above the acceptable level, contact a professional to mitigate the gas in your home.

Keep Mold at Bay

Unfortunately, mold can grow anywhere in your home, such as on carpet, in the shower, on the backside of drywall, around leaking pipes, and above the ceiling. Mold issues can be difficult to detect in areas you cannot see, and it can be very difficult to completely eradicate it. If your family’s allergies are worse at home, or if your eyes, nose, and throat are irritated more at home than in other places, there is a good chance that you have a mold issue in your home.

Mold grows in moist places, so the best thing you can do is keep your home as dry as possible. Be sure to tighten all leaky pipes, run fans in rooms that have windows gathering condensation, dry wet areas immediately, and properly ventilate your bathroom and kitchen by using exhaust fans. If you do remove carpet or drywall that has mold on it, replace it with mold-resistant products. Get a dehumidifier for the areas of your home that are high in moisture and empty it regularly.

Of course, mold is commonly found in the bathroom. Hanging towels and bath mats to dry after taking a bath or shower is key. If you don’t have proper ventilation in the bathroom, wipe out the tub or shower to dry it after use. Wash your towels, mats, shower liner, and shower curtain frequently, and scrub your shower, tub, sink, and floor frequently.

Check Your Cleaning Products for Hidden Toxins

Just because you can purchase your cleaning products at nearly any store does not mean they are safe. Many products contain carcinogens, poisons, and chemicals that trigger asthma. If products are labeled as being fatal if swallowed, advise you to wear rubber gloves when handling them, and suggest that you keep them away from your face and avoid inhaling fumes, they are among some of the most hazardous to your health.

Instead of using store-bought cleaners that most likely can cause harm, you should consider avoiding chemicals and clean with household items such as lemon, baking soda, and vinegar. Forgoing chemical cleaners altogether and making your own cleaning products is one of the best ways to ensure your entire family’s safety.

It’s not only possible that your home is making you and your family sick, it is probable. By having a home inspection, testing for common hazards, keeping mold at bay, and making your own toxin-free cleaning products, you will make your home a safer place for everyone.

Image via Pixabay by Michael Gaida

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