Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Under the Weather? 3 Health Hazards Hidden around Your Household

Anyone can experience acute allergy-, cold- and flu-related symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches, congestion, headache, wheezing, chills, coughing, dizziness and a rash or itching at any time. That said, you might have a far more serious condition caused by hidden hazards in your home if you experience one or more of these symptoms for an extended period. These types of chronic symptoms are often a common sign of sick building syndrome caused by one or more health hazards in the home. If you haven’t found the cause of your sickness, consider the following three possibilities:

Microscopic Organisms

Bacteria, viruses, dust mites, pollen and mold spores are among the top hidden microscopic home-based health hazards. Although they’re natural to different environments, these microorganisms can pose a threat based on the type and level of contamination. For example, if you don’t sterilize dish clothes, sponges and kitchen counters daily, you can get sick from bacteria, such as E. Coli and salmonella, that transferred to surfaces from meal prep ingredients. Dust mites consume human skin cells and their waste and dead bodies break down and set off allergic reactions and asthma in certain people. Pollen and mold spores can enter a home through open windows and doors and by sticking to clothes, shoes and pets. Mold can build up behind walls, under flooring and inside of sink drains and air vents.

Unseen Pests

A lot of small insects and mammals that hide in a home carry diseases or create conditions that cause chronic symptoms. Unseen insect pests include bed bugs, carpet beetles, fleas, kissing bugs, roaches and termites. The tiny hairs on carpet beetle larvae and their blood, for example, can set off allergic reactions and cause dermatitis. Kissing bugs can transfer a parasite to humans that causes Chagas disease. The wood deterioration caused by termites can result in dangerous floor or stair collapse. The dust they create and their dead bodies can also set off allergies. Mammals that can spread disease via blood, waste and insects that have infested them include birds, mice, raccoons and opossums.

Non-Living Contaminants

Homes usually contain a high volume of hazardous non-living pollutants. Homeowners often bring these substances into their home without knowing that a danger exists, such as with volatile organic chemicals that outgas from certain types of paint, carpet and furniture flame retardant treatments and cancer-causing materials in electronics. Sometimes a home automatically fills with natural gas contaminants like carbon monoxide and radon. Home construction materials also break down down over time and get into the air. For example, older homes often contain lead paint, asbestos fibers and loose rock wool insulation. Many homeowners bring dangerous chemicals and other non-living contaminants into their homes on purpose, such as chemical cleaning products, spray solvents and scented candles, air fresheners and laundry sheets.

To remove as many of these hazards from your home as possible, start by replacing dangerous products with healthier alternatives and hiring a certified inspector to check for pollutants and provide remediation services. Professional cleaners or an upholstery vacuum can help you maintain carpets and furniture to reduce dust mites and carpet beetle populations. An expert pest control specialist like American Pest Control Inc. can help you locate and remove pests. Once you reduce hidden hazards, you merely need to clean the air and all surfaces on a regular basis. For example, install air purifiers in every room, replace purifier and air conditioner or HVAC filters monthly and dust and vacuum every week.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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