Our homes are supposed to be a safe haven from the threats and stresses of the outside world. Yet serious health hazards can be hiding in and on the walls, in the air we breathe, and even snuggling up to us in our beds. Baxton Property Management lists some of the chief offenders that may or may not be present in your home.
The threats you can see…
Mould: Most of us have seen this black or musty threat growing and spreading on our walls or bathroom and kitchen tiles at some time or another, but we often don’t notice it where it also lurks behind and under furniture. Mould is a fungus spread by airborne spores, and it will grow on almost any surface where there is moisture and a lack of ventilation. Not only is it unattractive, but it can affect our respiratory health and trigger allergies.
Asbestos: Probably the best known threat in homes, the fibres asbestos releases can do serious damage to your lungs and chest cavity. Once used for strengthening cement, and particularly popular in insulation, it can also be found in paints, tiles, coatings and plastic. Damaged asbestos products can release fibres into the atmosphere, which if inhaled result in inflammation and scarring which can affect your breathing.
..And the ones you can’t see
Pests: There are many pests you can see, like cockroaches, mice, rats and ants, but there are also those that you can’t see, like dust mites . These can be one of the biggest causes of allergies or asthma. Where do you find them? Right where you sleep – on, and in, your bed, pillows and bedding. It’s their favourite place because there’s moisture and lots of dead skin cells there, but they also settle in comfortably in carpets that aren’t cleaned regularly.
Lead: Australia’s been working hard on this one, because of its serious after-effects, especially on young children. Studies suggest it can lower IQ, and may contribute to violent or aggressive behaviour later in life. Early in the 2000’s, the World Health Organisation (WHO) put a scary figure of 120 million on the number of people worldwide with a blood level of lead greater than 10 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL). Acceptable levels are half that.
Worse still is an annual global death toll of close to 700,000 every year claimed in a study just four years ago. Governments worldwide have been working to lessen exposure to lead by cutting back on leaded fuel, lead plumbing pipes and paints. However much this helps, lead may still be there in the soil, old paintwork, and in the soldered joints on pipes, even if it’s no longer as common in the pipes themselves.
Indoor air pollution provides serious health risks. Statistics claim increased rates of strokes (over 30%); heart disease and COPD (more than 20%); and lung cancer (6%). It can also increase respiratory infections in children by between 5 and 6%.
Carbon Monoxide is one of the worst. This gas can be toxic, and you may not even know it’s there. Fuel-burners like furnaces, clothes dryers, water and space heaters, stoves and fireplaces are the biggest culprits. The results can be headaches, dizziness, tiredness, nausea and disorientation, and even death. Ventilation is one of the minimum requirements for rentals in Australia. Make sure you use it.
New carpets, paint and cleaning materials can also pollute the air, leading to headaches at best. But they can cause greater health damage depending on what chemicals they contain. Pesticides, like bug sprays and mothballs can be particularly nasty, with mothballs believed to be connected with anaemia, liver damage and even neurological problems in babies. Also on the list of potential hazards are flame retardant products used on furniture and the chemicals used on some non-stick cookware.
Many investment property owners and their tenants will never be exposed to the health threats mentioned in this post. However, Baxton Property Management in Hobart considers communication of relevant information to be one of its obligations with regard to its property owner clients.
Written and syndicated by
– Baxton Media.
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