Environmental Hazards and Senior Safety

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:

  • Radon Gas

  • Asbestos

  • Contaminated Water

  • Mold

  • Lead

  • VOCs

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

  • Wallpaper

  • 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

  • Heat-resistant fabrics

What Illnesses Can Asbestos Cause?


  • Ovarian

  • Laryngeal

  • Asbestosis

  • Benign Pleural Diseases - Mesothelioma

Asbestos – What to Do

1. Testing - Hire a licensed professional. Ask for referrals


2. Follow their recommendations

  • Cover

  • Remove



  • 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:

  • Paint

  • Tile glazing

  • Cabinet finishes

  • Floor finishes

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