If you are a regular visitor to our site or watch any of our videos, you know that I am an advocate of natural cleaning products. There are many reasons for this choice including the simple reason that they work better than most products full of harsh chemicals. However, the most important reason for using natural products is that they are not as harmful to our environment. There are many toxins and poisons out there that come in the form of household cleaners that we must be aware of and use caution when storing and disposing. These products are usually easy to identify by the symbols on their packaging. The toxins we need to be more aware of are the ones that could be hiding out of sight in our own homes.
Last week was Poison Prevention Week, and its aim was to help families purge and dispose of unwanted or even unknown toxins. Each year, organizations like the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance work to share important information about household toxins and how they can be dealt with. It’s important to recognize and understand the risks involved with toxins within the home and to not jump in and try to handle them alone.
Three such toxins, and all naturally occurring, are asbestos, radon, and carbon monoxide. Asbestos, a mineral that’s mined from the earth, has been used for centuries to help prevent fire, while radon and carbon monoxide are gaseous chemicals that can be extremely harmful if in an overabundance.
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Asbestos, widely used in homes until the 1970’s, was a building product staple due to its’ innate ability to help stop the spread of fires. Once the Toxic Substance Control Act was passed, there were some regulations in place for asbestos, but there are still many loopholes, including one that allowed it to be used in certain crayons in 2015. When asbestos fibers become disturbed and friable, they can lodge themselves in the lungs and cause irritation. This irritation paves the way for asbestos related diseases, including mesothelioma. If your house was built before 1980, you can consult a licensed professional in your state or region to assess the state of the asbestos in your home. Asbestos is very dangerous when released into the air, so it is important that you have your home properly tested, especially if you are doing any renovations or exposing any old flooring or walls. Never try to remove Asbestos yourself, always call in a professional!
Naturally occurring, radon is a radioactive, gaseous byproduct of uranium breaking down underneath the surface of the earth. It can be released into homes through cracks in the foundation or floor, pockets within the walls, or even through the water supply. Radon, like asbestos, poses a risk of cancer, being the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Luckily, it is easy to test for and inexpensive to eliminate. Radon test kits can be purchased from most hardware and home improvement stores, while radon elimination can be done with a reduction system, which is relatively inexpensive and very effective. Overexposure to Radon can occur at anytime or in any age home, so it is important to check the levels if you never have. You can check your local government’s website to determine what your country determines to be the safest level of Radon becquerels per meter or foot.
Carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, finds its’ way into homes through fumes from burning fuel, from such places as vehicles, stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, or furnaces. At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause CO poisoning or can be fatal. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s important to have any furnaces, water heaters, or heating systems serviced every year by licensed professionals. Many new homes are now equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, but if yours does not, you can purchase one for each floor of your home at your local hardware or home improvement store. Also, make sure to check the batteries (if that is what yours runs on) every six months.
These three toxins may not be ones you think about often but they are very harmful and should be treated as such. I invite you to take this opportunity to have your home tested and equipped to keep you and your family safe. I also encourage you to consult a professional if you suspect your home has an abundance of any of these toxins.