Poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the United States, and 91% of incidents occur in our very own homes. Unintentional poisoning can occur in a number of ways, potentially harming our health as well as our loved ones. In an effort to reduce the number of households affected, it’s important to understand where common toxic products might be lurking and how to create a safe and healthy space for your family.
In Your Air
Many households depend on pesticides to protect their property from unwanted vermin without realizing the consequences that can unfold. Harsh chemicals like these can be life-threatening when people are exposed to them for long periods of time, but you can avoid them by simply maintaining a clean home. Oftentimes, it’s as easy as taking a moment to seal and store open containers, clean your dishes, regularly empty the trash, and avoid leaving pet food out for more than a few hours.
Another effective solution is to repair any cracks or damages in your home’s foundation. Not only will pests have a harder time getting into your basement and home, dangerous toxins like radon will be kept out too.
In Your House
Asbestos was a common deadly mineral found in thousands of building materials. Some of the most notorious products included floor tiles, adhesives, insulation, cement, siding, roofing material, caulking, and more. If your home was built before 1980, these harmful materials could be found in garages, basements, and attics. Attics have become a particular concern because of vermiculite insulation, some of which was contaminated with asbestos and is being discovered in homes across the nation.
In addition, older garages have a history of using asbestos-cement and roofing materials for stability and longevity. The problem is that when storms or harsh weather conditions occur they can damage the materials and release asbestos fibers into the air, creating not only a dangerous home, but a public health hazard. If people inhale loose asbestos fibers, symptoms can take years to show and may cause mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that primarily affects the lungs. If you do decide to start a renovation project, always be aware of the health risks you may encounter through toxic dust and building supplies.
On Your Walls
Home improvement projects create a lot of dust and could contain any number of toxins, including the possibility of lead, a heavy metal capable of causing severe damage when we’re exposed to it. Lead-based paint has been banned since 1978, but can still be found in approximately four million homes today. The toxic paint might be hidden under newer paint jobs and is similar to asbestos in that it does not become a health risk unless it has begun to deteriorate or wear away. This often happens near window sills, door frames, railings, and any other surface that gets a lot of wear and tear, so keep an eye on these areas to ensure the paint is in good shape.
Don’t forget to regularly dust your home. Lead-tainted paint dust is a primary source of indoor exposure, as well as exposed gasoline, and industrial pollution. This toxin can harm almost every system in the body and is especially dangerous for children in their developmental years. If you think your home contains lead, it’s important to set up a blood test for your family to be sure your health is not at risk.
In Your Cabinets
Cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals and are the second leading cause of poisoning children. The biggest concern is that we’re choosing to purchase and support products that may eventually pose a serious health risk for ourselves and our families.
Bleach is an extremely common household cleaner, but it also reportedly poisoned more than 15,000 children nationwide in 2014. This is why it’s vital to ensure all cleaning products are out of a child’s reach and to consider child-proofing your cabinets. You should never mix different solvents together, like bleach and ammonia, which could result in producing a potentially deadly gas. Always ventilate your home and open the windows when using these products to protect your lungs.
Promoting Preventative Education
Every household deserves to be safe and healthy, which is why educating ourselves about the many avenues of exposure truly makes a difference. You can join the nationwide effort to reduce poisoning by making simple adjustments to your everyday routine, such as reading labels and maintaining a clean home. It’s important to spread the word about the power of prevention because it is one of the most effective tools we have for reducing the amount of people exposed to toxins today.
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