5 Home Health Hazards You Likely Don’t Even Know About

Toxic paints, contaminated building materials, and poisonous mattresses can easily turn your home sweet home into a minefield when it comes to preserving your health. Here are five of the lesser known health hazards you might be sharing your home with and what to do about them.


Did you know that building materials and furnishings may contain radon, a radioactive element found in the soil that is the second leading cause of lung cancer among smokers and the top leading cause of the highly deadly disease among non-smokers?

It is estimated that the relatively low-profile contaminant accounts for 8 to 15% of lung cancer cases, with 21,000 people being killed by the poisonous gas every year. Most of these people never get to learn that the radioactive gas was the main culprit behind their cancer diagnosis.

The EPA warns that even breathing low levels of the gas may lead to cancer and that smokers multiply their cancer risk by two-digit figures if they happen to be exposed to radon in their own homes as well.

Unfortunately, radon is invisible and odorless, so you’ll need to have your home tested by a professional to know whether your home is contaminated. The telltale symptoms of radon overexposure include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Hoarseness
  • Cough getting worse despite treatment

Indoor radon levels can be lowered via ventilation either by opening all the doors and windows the first thing in the morning or using a fan. Radon cannot be completely eliminated but it can be brought down to safer levels.

Toxic Interior Paints 

Most interior paints give off airborne harmful chemicals that can destroy your, your family’s, and your pets’ health in time without you even noticing the underlying cause. Some of the compounds in these paints may cause frequent headaches, vision impairment, dizziness, respiratory disease (including difficulty breathing), and memory loss.

The good news is that you can swap these paints with their eco-friendly cousins. The safest interior paints to date are the mineral based ones, such as lime paint, clay paint, and chalk. These paints may require more elbow grease on your part than your regular paints, but they are also non-toxic, antimicrobial, and highly breathable which means they prevent mold formation and moisture from destroying the building. 

Lead Paint (in Older Homes) 

Lead-based paints are another health hazard that may be lurking in your home. Especially homes built or renovated prior to 1978 are more likely to contain the dangerous metal. The lead in paint and in the fine dust resulted from paint flaking off may lead to lead poisoning.

Just like the next health hazard on our list, lead paint is not hazardous unless it gets disturbed and the small particles get ingested or inhaled. Damp lead-based paint is a health hazard too, so it may need your immediate attention especially if you have small children or vulnerable seniors around the home.

Be warry that when repairing or renovating parts of the building that may contain lead paint, you may create toxic lead dust which can get you sick if breathed in. It is best to hire a certified professional to renovate or demolish a lead-contaminated home.

Asbestos (in Older Homes)
Asbestos is another lesser known health hazard, affecting older homes. Just like lead paint, the naturally occurring mineral becomes hazardous for human health if it is first turned into a fine powder and inhaled or ingested. Most homes built or renovated before 1980 in the U.S.A. and 1999 in the U.K. contain asbestos.
Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a very deadly form of cancer destroying the lining of internal organs, including the lungs, the abdominal cavity, and the chest cavity. It may also cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and chronic respiratory disease.

Many workers are exposed to asbestos on the job site, but in-home asbestos exposure is not to be taken lightly especially when demolishing or disturbing in other way the asbestos-contaminated parts of your home. An Australian study found that men living in contaminated households had double the risk of mesothelioma than their peers living in non-compromised homes.

Toxic Mattresses 

Mattresses can quickly turn into breeding grounds for nasty bed bug colonies, but there’s a lesser known health risk that comes with them: VOC emissions (VOCs). Vocs stand for volatile organic compounds, which are mildly toxic gasses emitted by contaminated materials when exposed to heat.

Your body heat can spur the emission of such gases when sleeping on a contaminated mattress. It is estimates that indoor air’s VOC levels are up to ten times higher than the outdoors’. These organic chemicals are also the top indoor air pollutant, as they are present in most cleaning and disinfecting products, beauty and skin care merchandise, dry cleaned clothing, stored fuels, varnishes, paint, furniture treatments, glues, and permanent markers.

They can cause a laundry list of conditions from headaches and eye, nose and throat irritation to organ failure and cancer. At the moment, it is unclear how much of these chemicals is too much to have around, but small children are the most vulnerable. So, it is recommended to invest in a pricier but non-toxic and VOC-free mattress for your little angels to stay on the safe side.

In Conclusion 

There can be many hidden health dangers lurking in your home that you may not even be aware of. From lead-based paints that may give you lead poisoning to asbestos-contaminated materials that may trigger cancer, indoor contaminants are an unpleasant reality for the convenience-loving modern man.

While prevention, such as switching to more natural building materials, might seem like the correct thing to do, if you’ve already gotten sick, there’s little you can do about it. Fortunately, lawyers can offer hope to personal injury victims if you’ve developed a serious condition such as mesothelioma in a contaminated home.

But while a dedicated personal injury attorney can help you only pay the medical bills and get proper compensation for your pain and suffering, getting to know the invisible enemy that might get you sick before the unthinkable happens can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

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jenny summers
Oct 26, 2020 at 14:23:59