adapted from article by Erik Listou
Environmental hazards are a serious matter for everyone. However, it is especially important to check for these in any home where a senior is living.
Here are some of the main hazards potentially present in a home:
The last blog covered radon gas. Let's address the other hazards here.
Some homes, especially older homes, may contain asbestos.
Where is asbestos often found?
Wall plaster – little white fibers
Vermiculite insulation in attics and walls
Floor tiles and sheet goods, including the adhesives
Roofing and siding
Textured paint and patching compounds used on walls and ceilings
Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets
Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos insulation
Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets
What Illnesses Can Asbestos Cause?
Benign Pleural Diseases - Mesothelioma
Asbestos – What to Do
1. Testing - Hire a licensed professional. Ask for referrals
2. Follow their recommendations
Environmental Protection Agency https://www.epa.gov/asbestos
Consumer Products Safety Commission - https://www.cpsc.gov/safety-education/safety-guides/home/asbestos-home
International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants - https://iac2.org
Naturally occurring, very soft, dense, and ductile (moldable) metal
Still used in some commercial products made or imported into the United States
Very stable and accumulates in the environment
Resistant to corrosion, although acidic water may leach lead outof pipes, fittings, and solder (metal joints)
Where is lead often found?
If your home was built before 1978, it probably has items that were coated or made with lead. If the finishes still look good, they probably contain lead.
Common items with lead include:
Lead and Illness
In children, even mild lead poisoning can have a permanent impact on
attention and IQ. People who survive toxic lead levels may have
some permanent brain damage. Children are more vulnerable to serious
long-term problems. A complete recovery from chronic lead
poisoning may take months to years. (Jan 31, 2017
Lead poisoning: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia)
Lead stays in the body for different periods of time, depending on where
it is. Half of the lead in the blood will be excreted in 25 days (this is
called the "half-life"). In soft tissues, it takes 40 days for half of the lead
to be excreted. In bones and teeth, it takes much longer, up to 10
years or longer. (May 26, 2001 OSH Basics - The Health Hazards of Lead - Osh.Net
Lead - What to Do?
As a non-professional, it is very risky to remove lead. Surfaces could be damaged which could expose more lead and in general the risk of exposure is too great.
Hire a professional to avoid exposure and damage. In addition, a professional can accurately remove all the asbestos and create a professional report.
There are over 100,000 types of mold. Most are harmless to humans.
The following twelve are some of the more harmful:
Toxigenic mold whose appearance evolves over time.
Typically grows in humidifers, cooling coils, drain pans and window sealants
Most common form of allergenic mold
Typically grows wherever dampness occurs (bathtubs, showers, below leaking sinks, and behind walls or cabinets where a leak has occurred
Common mold found in American households
There are over 185 species appearing in many different colors
An allergenic mold
Can sometimes be found growing behind wallpaper or on painted or wooden surfaces
Commonly found in water-damaged homes and buildings
Has a cotton-like texture and usually changes color over time
Can grow in both warm and cold conditions
Often found thriving in indoor materials such as fabrics, upholsteries, carpets
Capable of growing and spreading at cold temperatures
An allergenic and toxigenic type of mold that grows in homes with water damage
Allergenic form of mold that usually grows in thick patches
Grows near air conditioning, HVAC systems and ducting due to moisture from condensation
Allergenic form of mold that is easily recognizable by its blue or green colored surface with velvety texture
Often found in water damaged buildings
Also known as nefarious black mold
Toxigenic type of mold that can also cause allergic reactions
Thrives in damp, wet areas with high humidity levels
Allergenic mold that is generally white in color with green patches
Commonly grows in the home on wet surfaces and moist areas
Thrives in wetness and water and is usually black in color
Can be found in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and around windows with high condensation levels
Mold - What to Do?
Clean It with Bleach? Not!!
OSHA and the EPA have specifically advised against the use of bleach for mold remediation.
Caustic and extremely harmful to wood and many other surfaces. If bleach is used on wood, it will weaken the wood by breaking down its fibers. This can create further problems with the structural integrity of the home.
When mixed with ammonia it creates a deadly gas! *Remember, urine contains ammonia! Using bleach in the toilet could also create a toxic gas.
Considered a toxic chemical and is classified the same as gasoline.
In its gaseous form (room temperature) chlorine releases Dioxins, a known cancer causing compound.
Highly corrosive to skin. Exposure to bare skin creates a hydrolysis reaction. This means the “oily” feeling is actually the top layer of your skin beginning to dissolve!
Hire a Professional! Hawkeye Home Inspections performs mold testing.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids
Include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects
Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors
VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products - numbering in the thousands.
Where are VOCs often found?
Furniture and building materials
Paints, varnishes and waxes
Many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products
VOCs - What To Do?
Check your home
Do-it-yourself tests up to $500
Professionals – National average $404
Indoor Air Quality Association - http://www.iaqa.org/
Specify low VOC products
Clean the air
Cooking equipment exhaust fans
Exhaust fans bathrooms, laundry, etc.