9 Common Things in Your Home That Can Damage Your Lungs
As safe as many daily household items are, some can pose dangers to our health. From disinfectants to paints and even vacuums, there are limitless objects that can eventually cause lung problems or even life-threatening diseases like cancer.
Heavy-duty disinfectants like bleach, chlorine, and ammonia can be irritants to people who have lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and they can also cause asthma in some people. In some cases, substituting these tough cleaning products with organic, chemical-free products or just simple soap and water can work better or the same as harsh products. Most people assume the germs around their home need to be disinfected with chemical-heavy products, but in reality soap and water can do the trick. To kill specific infections, like the flu virus, be sure to dilute the cleaning solution you are using so that it is not too strong.
Carpets and rugs can trap large amounts of dust, more than hard flooring does. A study based on the National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing found that households with more dust reported more wheezing and asthma. When walking past the dust particles, you might not immediately feel their presence, so coughing is unlikely to occur unless your lungs are sensitive due to asthma or COPD. However, if there are children constantly playing on the floor, the accumulated dust could trigger lung problems.
At times, cleaning can pose greater threats to your health since vacuuming or sweeping dust-filled floors or carpets can cause even more dust to rise into the air. Since dust is airborne, people who suffer from nasal allergies (about 50 million Americans, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America) could experience symptoms. To reduce the amount of dust in the air, try damp mopping floors rather than dry sweeping, or use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
The rock and soil underneath your home can contain an odorless, radioactive natural gas called radon. If radon were to enter your home through joints, flooring, and other gaps, it is likely you could possibly inhale toxic, radioactive compounds. Exposure to this toxic gas is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Be sure to test your home for radon in order to promptly remove the gas permanently and consider investing in a ventilation system that can work in any weather condition.
Mold in the home is another cause of asthma or allergies. It is especially common in areas where there is excessive moisture. For instance, mold may be found around bathroom windows and walls, as well as carpet that has been exposed to flooding. Often times, major repairs in the home are required to prevent mold from growing back.
Sprays that are designed to remove insects like cockroaches or bedbugs can cause lung problems if the instructions are not properly followed. Although the directions on the container will likely prevent you from inhaling the products, it is always a great idea to make sure there is plenty of ventilation to avoid any problems.
When renovating a room or a piece of furniture, it is important tohave freshh air circulating at all times. When paint buckets are opened or drying, they can often emit harmful chemicals called VOCs. They can range from simple irritants to carcinogens like formaldehyde. Try placing a fan in a window near the area of renovation to push air out while the paint dries.
Although wood-burning stoves can provide a warm, toasty environment, they can also be a cause of pollution. The fire can emit chemicals like nitrogen oxide and formaldehyde that can affect the rest of the community when the stovepipe lets out smoke. New models have become cleaner, and natural gas is an even cleaner option. Avoid using pressure-treated wood, which can be more toxic than untreated timber since it has been treated to protect against rotting and insects. Next time you decide to make a fire, don’t use wood from treated lumber like old fences, swing sets or even stairs, as it can lead you to breathe in high levels of the toxin copper arsenate.
Many older homes are known to contain asbestos, a material that was commonly used for insulation and was banned from indoor use in 1973 because it caused pulmonary fibrosis and mesothelioma (cancer found in the tissue lining the lungs and other organs). If it is in good condition or completely covered by thick paint, it is unlikely to cause a problem. However, be cautious if old insulation is damaged. Keep an eye out for pieces flaking off or chips on the floor, as this is when asbestos becomes dangerous.
Reference: Health Guide