Pollutants and Contaminants That Could Be Harming
Your Family and Even Your Pets
Your home could be housing more than just you and your family. There could be hazardous pollutants and contaminants threatening your family and pets’ health without you even knowing it.
One of the most important functions of our homes is to keep us safe and sheltered. Unfortunately, dangerous chemicals and substances can lurk behind our walls, under our floors, and even in our drinking water, causing negative and sometimes life-threatening impacts on our health.
Four of the main hazards found in households include asbestos, lead, radon, and black mold. While all of these substances are naturally occurring, exposure to high levels or even direct contact can be dangerous.
In this article, we’ll discuss the dangers of these four contaminants, who is at risk, and how to remove them from your home safely.
Asbestos is a natural fibrous mineral used in homes as insulation. Due to its fire-retardant properties, durability, and effective insulating qualities, it was commonly used in residential homes, schools, and commercial buildings. These buildings often contain asbestos in the attic, behind walls, under vinyl floors, and around hot water and steam pipes.
However, due to the dangers that asbestos posed, some usage, particularly in homes, was banned from being used in 1989. Homes and buildings constructed before this period may still contain asbestos, though.
Dangers of Asbestos
Individuals exposed to asbestos can develop mesothelioma cancers. These cancerous tumors are caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, which latch onto the lungs, abdomen, or heart.
About 3,000 people per year are diagnosed with this rare cancer. Another 9,000 people die from asbestos related cancers each year. The survival rate after diagnosis ranges from four months to a year and a half.
Keep in mind that this cancer develops when individuals are exposed to asbestos and directly inhale the fibers. It takes years for it to develop as well.
People At Risk of Mesothelioma Cancer
Due to the extended time period needed for the health risks of asbestos to occur, older adults who were veterans in the US military, construction workers, plumbers, chimney sweeps, firefighters, and auto mechanics where asbestos was used have a higher risk of developing it.
It is also possible that secondhand exposure may cause mesothelioma cancer too. The family members of individuals who worked with asbestos are also at risk of the negative health effects of asbestos.
Removing Asbestos from Your Home
If your home was built before 1989, specifically during the 1970s, you most likely have asbestos insulation. Since exposure to the substance is toxic, do not attempt to remove it from your home yourself. Instead, call a professional service, like Aegis Environmental, who can safely mitigate the situation.
To test if you have asbestos in your home, eight-hour long-term and 30-minute exposure tests are required. The professionals will then locate and remove the asbestos using protective equipment and trained methods to avoid tracking it through the house to keep you and your family safe.
Lead is a naturally occurring element that was once used in a variety of products, including cosmetics, plastic children’s toys, paints, and plumbing. This miracle metal was used in almost everything until we learned just how dangerous its effects were on our health, especially children.
The use of lead was banned in 1978 but can still be found today. The most commonly found presence of lead in homes today is in the paint and plumbing pipes or soldering, which can contaminate our water. In fact, those selling a home built before this period must disclose to a homebuyer whether or not lead-based paint is present.
It’s estimated that 87% of the homes built before 1940, 69% of homes built between 1940 and 1959, and 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1977 contain lead of some sort.
Dangers of Lead
Overexposure to lead can lead to lead poisoning in adults, but especially in children under the age of six years old. These effects are neurological and tend to be worse and cause more long-term damage in children.
Children exposed to lead often experience learning difficulties, delayed development, fatigue, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Adults exposed to lead often experience high blood pressure, memory and concentration issues, mood changes, and muscle and joint pain. Women with lead exposure can experience miscarriages and stillbirths too.
People at Risk of Lead Poisoning
Children and women have a higher risk of experiencing the effects of overexposure to lead, especially when they live in a home built before 1978. Some individuals who practice certain hobbies such as stained glass and jewelry making are exposed to lead when they use solder.
Removing Lead from Your Home
If you live in a home built before 1978, you may want to have your home professionally tested for lead presence in your paint and water. There are home kits available to test for lead-based paint, but professional testing and abatement can provide more accurate results and solutions to mitigate.
Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that escapes from the soil. This radioactive substance, caused by the breakdown of uranium in rock and soil, is harmless when released into the atmosphere. However, it can be extremely toxic and dangerous when confined in an enclosed space.
It’s estimated that 1 in 15 homes have elevated levels of radon. Usually detected in basements, radon can seep through cracks in a home’s foundation and lurk in the air causing serious health problems such as lung cancer.
While radon is often found in the air, it can also be present in drinking water. The most dangerous part of this natural gas is that you can breathe it in unknowingly for years due to its invisible qualities.
Dangers of Radon Exposure
Those who are exposed to high levels of radon gas often develop lung cancer. When inhaled, the radon will lodge into the lining of the lungs and eventually cause cancer cells to grow. There are an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year caused by radon exposure. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco cigarettes.
When individuals ingest radon-contaminated water, they are at risk of developing stomach cancer. There are about 168 deaths per year due to radon-related cancers from contaminated drinking water.
People at Risk of Radon Exposure
Individuals who live in basement apartments or bedrooms, employees that work in mines, subways, or are excavators, have a higher chance of being exposed to radon.
However, smokers are more at risk of developing lung cancer and other respiratory symptoms from radon exposure.
Since radon is undetectable, it’s essential to conduct tests to determine the level of the gas in your home. Typically, when people purchase a home, they will test for radon in the basement.
There are home testing kits available, but you will always get the most accurate results when conducted by a professional. At Aegis Environmental, we can test both the air and your drinking water to ensure standard radon levels.
If your radon levels test higher than 4 pCi/L, then you will have to mitigate the situation. Oftentimes simple solutions such as increasing ventilation in your home, sealing cracks in the foundation, and aerating your water can reduce radon gas levels in your home.
You may be familiar with mold in your bathroom or even on your food. Black mold, or Stachybotrys Chartarum, can be very toxic and negatively impact your health.
This toxic contaminate often grows on carpeting, subflooring, insulation, and on the drywall due to moisture. Oftentimes, this moisture is caused by leaks in the roof or pipes, constant humidity, flooding, or indoor moisture.
The most telling sign of black mold is its dark black color. However, the color can also be dark green or brown. It can also look splotchy and slightly fuzzy in places.
Dangers of Black Mold
Inhaling toxic black mold isn’t usually life-threatening, but it can cause allergic reactions and worsen asthma symptoms.
When exposed to black mold for a short period of time, symptoms such as irritated eyes, skin rash, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and congestion can take place. Long-term exposure to black mold spores may result in nausea, vomiting, and bleeding in the lungs.
If black mold is ingested, individuals could experience mycotoxicosis or mold poisoning. While this is uncommon, symptoms include mood changes, headaches, nosebleeds, memory loss, and aches and pain.
People at Risk of Black Mold Exposure
Those who live in humid areas or homes without proper ventilation are at risk of black mold exposure. If there are leaks or flooding in your home, be sure to clean and fix them before the moisture sets in and creates an environment where mold can grow.
Individuals with allergies, asthma, respiratory problems, and weakened immune systems – especially children and the elderly – are at risk of experiencing symptoms from exposure to toxic black mold as well.
Removing Black Mold from Your Home
Most of the time, you can identify black mold at just the sight of it. However, if it is growing beneath carpeting or behind walls, you may not realize it’s growing in your home.
If you suspect black mold is present, Aegis Environmental will assess the situation and conduct air quality tests to detect the substance. Once detected, the mold is examined under a microscope to identify it correctly.
The removal process also includes locating the source of moisture or water to prevent the mold from growing in the future and potentially harming you and your family’s health.
Clear Your Home of Hazardous Toxins and Keep Your Family Safe
As the head of your household, your goal is to keep you and your family safe, especially in your own home. However, the presence of nearly undetectable toxic pollutants and substances can fight against this goal.
With the proper testing and professionally trained individuals, you can detect and remove these hazardous toxins from your home. Aegis Environmental is here to locate these dangerous pollutants and successfully remediate them to ensure your home is safe again.
Contact us to schedule a consultation or testing and abatement and clear your home of toxins today.