Not all home dangers are as obvious as frayed wiring, or as easily detectable as carbon monoxide. Here are 5 you should keep an eye out for.
You’ve probably heard of the dangers of lead poisoning, but you should know that if you just came home from the hardware store with a fresh gallon for the living room walls, you’re probably in the clear. The government has been well aware of the dangers of lead for decades, and regulations mean that any home built (or painted) after 1978 is probably safe.
However, plenty of houses were constructed prior to 1978. If that describes your home, you should have it tested—and your water, while you’re at it, since lead is often found in older piping. From there, you can have a removal company take care of the problem for you.
Not many people think “danger” when looking at their new rug. But the dyes and glues manufacturers use often emit VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, that can cause health problems. Luckily, there are VOC-free options, and often airing out the carpet before it’s installed will help reduce harmful emissions.
Mothballs are a household mainstay, but they may actually be doing you more harm than good. As they convert from a solid to a gas, they emit chemicals that have been known to cause cancer in animals and damage red blood cells. If you are worried about leaving your clothes to the whims of moths, try more natural alternatives, like cedar chips or limit your exposure by not using mothballs in close spaces.
Formaldehyde is often used as a cheap binder in pressed wood flooring—not a good thing, as it’s been known to cause breathing problems and cancer. Even laminate wood floors aren’t necessarily safe. A recent study found that some laminate floors produced in China have dangerous levels of formaldehyde.
The good news is that these materials become less dangerous over time, but other than removing them, there isn’t a lot you can do to minimize the harm in the meantime.
Mold often lurks in areas of your house where moisture and humidity collect. That means bathrooms and basements are prime targets. The specific dangers will vary with the type, but mold has been known to cause allergies and asthma.
To prevent mold growth, use dehumidifiers and vents, and keep an eye out for leaks. Even the smallest amount of water can lead to mold. Once it sets in, though, your options are pretty much to bleach it or hire a professional.