Top 10 Health Dangers in Your Hometweet
Sadly, it is easy to find – and list – at least 10 health dangers in your home but, if you follow a healthy, organic lifestyle, the chances are that many of those dangers will actually not be in your home any more. Still, however vigilant you are in your own house, you and your family could face such dangers at the homes of friends and family, at school or in the workplace.
1. Mold in the home has become a serious and sometimes even fatal problem in the USA and elsewhere and once you have mold in a building, it will always be there unless you completely start from scratch. You will notice that musty smell or even see signs of the mold itself although most of the toxic mold that we may be breathing in is actually invisible and floating in the air. We all need lots of fresh air and we are not going to get that if we are holed up inside a musty home 90% of the time with no fresh air circulating. Mold becomes a big problem when the spores start multiplying or when those who are especially sensitive are breathing it in, leading to respiratory problems, common allergic reaction symptoms, nervous-system disorders and depression. If your home is warm and humid, with too much clutter piled up and infrequently moved, this provides the perfect breeding ground. Mold will find any organic matter to invade, infesting our living space through walls, windows, doors, carpets and of course under the refrigerator but can also be walked or carried indoors.
2. Dust Mites are a major cause of asthma and allergies especially in children and the elderly, with some 10% of all Americans exhibiting an allergic sensitivity to dust mites. In the spring, pollen aggravates allergies (including dust mite infestations). The winter months, when we close up our homes, allows any concentration of dust mites and their droppings to increase. Dust mites love to be warm and snug in your bed where they can feast on your dead skin and of course multiply. When you wake up in the morning, strip back your bed to air it the old fashioned way while you are getting ready for the day. At the same time, open the windows wide to keep the air supply fresh and full of oxygen. Once you are ready, come back and make your bed. Change your bed linen at least every 5 to 7 days and wash on a high temperature, using a natural laundry detergent and softener. It is a good idea to hang your duvet or blankets together with the pillows out in the sun for at least 3 hours on a regular basis. This helps to to get rid of dust mites as well as mold and mildew. When changing your sheets, leave the new set off for a while and let your mattress air. Run the vacuum over it to get rid of dust mites and a good tip is to spritz with eucalyptus oil.
3. Offgasing comes from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are organic chemical compounds that have high enough vapor pressures under normal conditions to significantly vaporize and enter the earth’s atmosphere. That means you and I get to breathe them in. VOCs are solvents used in paint, adhesives, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, home furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and even the ubiquitous craft materials such as glues and adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions. These VOCs get released into the air as the product dries, sometimes causing acute symptoms such as headaches and dizziness. Other health effects are eye, nose and throat irritation, loss of coordination, nausea, and even damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous systems. It is suspected that some VOCs are carcinogens. As you would expect, the concentration of many VOCs is up to 10 times higher indoors that it is outdoors. The extent of the health effect also depends on level of exposure and length of time exposed.
4. Poisons and choking items. While poisons can cover a whole range of items in the home, they are less likely to be in the home if you use natural products for all household and garden chores including cleaning and laundry. If you have pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medications, these should be kept locked away. Choking items around the home can include food, toys and household items. Items within reach of a young child should be large enough that they cannot fit inside an empty roll of toilet paper. Plastic shopping bags or balloons can cause suffocation. Be aware that button batteries and small magnets can cause choking and poisoning. If lithium batteries are swallowed, severe tissue damage can result in a matter of two hours.
5. Guns could be more of a danger than you realize, even if you don’t keep one in your own home, as it is estimated that anywhere between 30 and 50% of homes in the USA do. Your child could visit family or friends in a house where a gun is stored (and of course safe gun storage methods mean storing the gun and ammunition separately and locked up, preferably in a safe). Make sure your own child knows what a gun is and how (if they ever see one) never to touch it but to leave the area immediately and go tell an adult. This is especially important because guns feature so often in TV, movies and video games where they are often glamorized instead of appearing dangerous.
6. Air Pollutants are everywhere and unless you are living in the middle of a wilderness area, it is difficult to escape air pollution. Two particular dangers are diesel and benzene. The former may increase the risk of lung cancer, asthma, headaches and heart disease while exposure to benzene, a gasoline additive also found in cigarettes, has been linked to an increased risk of leukemia and other blood cancers. Avoid walking or jogging in areas with heavy bus or truck traffic and limit the use of gasoline-fueled equipment at home. If you have a diesel-driven vehicle, don’t let the engine idle when parked outside your home. Take your family out into natural areas as much as you can for their leisure activities.
7. Even if you are using organic and natural products in your own garden or back yard, pesticides are commonly used in public parks, school grounds and of course neighbours’ gardens. These can affect your children and your pets. Pesticide use, even when administered by a professional, can have both short term and long term health effects for your family with a build up of residue of chemicals and dangerous toxins on surfaces, entering the body through the skin, the eyes, the nose and the mouth. While short term exposure can give a runny nose, a headache and even extreme flu-like symptoms, long term exposure can have carcinogenic effects.
8. Fluoride toothpaste is a matter of personal choice but you cannot always avoid fluoride in your drinking water. It is impossible to control exposure levels in drinking water, and fluoride is a toxic chemical that can cause tooth discoloration, fractures, thyroid dysfunction and even bone cancer at high enough levels. If your drinking water is fluoridated, you can reduce your exposure with a reverse osmosis water filter. Even the American Dental Association does not recommend fluoride mouthwashes for children under the age of six while there is a warning on tubes of fluoride toothpaste not to swallow the paste because of poison.
9. BPA will leach from the resin lining of a tin can into the food it contains and of course BPA in plastics has been well documented. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that acts similarly to estrogen when ingested into the body. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s bodies now exceeds the amount that can suppress sperm production or cause chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. Be very wary of all plastics particularly because anything that is used by a manufacturer to replace BPA may be even more dangerous. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel instead.
10. Smart Meters to monitor electricity consumption for each household have been introduced in many states in the USA and the trend is growing in other countries. However, there is considerable concern about the health risks from these low-powered frequencies traveling through our home night and day, emitting pulse radio frequency radiation. Once a smart meter system is fully in place, there will be no place to escape it night or day. Cell phone use and other devices are voluntary and can be shut off at the user’s discretion, but smart meters mounted on homes are emitting radiation 24/7 and can not be shut off. There is special concern for people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) as well as children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with pre-existing health problems.
The list is long and I could easily add in more, but perhaps another day. In the meantime, there are enough dangers to be looking out for and to lessen the risk wherever possible.