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Three Ways Your House Could Be Affecting Your Health (And What You Can Do About It)

Jan 24 2019

By Kay Carter 

As you age, it’s important to stay vigilant about things that could be affecting your health. One of the easiest ways to protect your health is to assess all aspects of your homr and pinpoint certain areas that could be having an adverse effect on you and your body. Ensuring that your home is safe can add to much needed peace of mind and feelings of security and safety. Here are three health and safety factors that are often overlooked by aging homeowners.

1. Mold

According to the CDC, mold can be found inside and outside the home. The mold itself is not toxic, but it does produce mycotoxins that are poisonous. These mycotoxins attach to mold spores that enter through open doorways, vents, windows and HVAC systems. They can also come in on your clothes, shoes, bags and pets. Once mold is inside your home, it tends to grow in areas that are prone to moisture or on dust particles, drywall, carpet and upholstery. 

If untreated, mold can cause mild respiratory problems in healthy adults and children, making them susceptible to a slew of respiratory infections. It can also cause chronic fatigue, excessive coughing, nausea, vomiting and bleeding in the lungs. Mold can be especially dangerous when affecting those with immune compromised systems, asthma, mold allergies and lung diseases.

Fortunately, there are a few ways that mold can be controlled in homes. Always wear a face mask before tackling mold and put on a long shirt and pants to protect your skin. Upholstery, blankets, furniture or carpets that have mold should be removed or cleaned immediately. If you can visibly spot mold (it’s usually a greenish-grey or black color), use soapy water and a sponge to remove it from affected surfaces. You can also purchase chemical cleaners or use baking soda and tea tree oil to assist with remediating the mold.

To prevent mold in the future, promptly fix leaky windows, roofs and pipes. Ensure your house, particularly your bathroom and laundry room, is properly ventilated and make sure to thoroughly dry out any areas of the home that have experienced recent water damage.

2. Slippery surfaces

According to the National Safety Council, household injuries were at an all-time high in 2017.  Stairs, slippery surfaces, toys, floor vents and a poor layout all present potential hazards. Since “Slip and Fall” injuries are often much more serious as you get older and can hamper independence, have a close friend or family member help you rearrange the furniture and layout of your home and consider adding modifications, like grab bars and handrails, to meet your physical needs as you age.

Here are some other ways your home can be modified to prevent falls and other injuries:

  • Install a shower seat just in case you feel weak and need to sit down quickly.
  • Invest in appliances and timers with sensory reminders (these will help you remember that a pot is on the stove or an appliance is turned on).
  • Consider getting rid of all throw rugs, which are common culprits in falls among the elderly.

3. Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the second most common cause of non-medicinal poisoning deaths and while most people remember to install smoke detectors in their home, they often forget about a carbon monoxide detector. If inhaled, carbon monoxide can suffocate the cells and lead to headaches, fatigue, nausea and even death—many people don’t realize they’re in danger of poisoning until it’s too late.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, install a carbon monoxide detector in your house, have a qualified technician inspect your heating and gas regularly, don’t use generators in your garage or basement, use space heaters only when someone in the house is awake, and never attempt to heat your home with a gas oven or other coal burning device.