This year National Poison Prevention Week falls on March 19-25. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) has a schedule for each day to bring attention to the different issues facing both individuals and families about the toxins that reside in their homes. There are many chemicals and household cleaners that are brought into homes that should be kept out of reach and disposed of in a safe manner.
With all toxins, the dangers of possible exposure and poisoning can be grave. Common poison names often cause confusion because many people are aware that they pose some kind of risk, but aren’t sure exactly what that risk is. Outlined below are the dangers that they pose and the steps homeowners can take to assess their homes.
Asbestos is mostly prevalent in homes built before the 1980’s, but it can still be found in construction and household products. In 2016, it was even found in children’s crayons. It’s still legal to be used in the United States, and still lingers in many buildings. It was used for its’ fire retardant properties and as a natural mineral, it was mined and used liberally as insulation, roofing and ceiling tiles, and many more. Exposure to asbestos can cause a rare form of cancer, called mesothelioma which can take decades to surface after the initial exposure.
The danger of asbestos comes from the fibers becoming airborne after the product has been damaged or disturbed. Similar to lead, it is recommended that disturbed or damaged asbestos be removed.
As an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas, radon is undetectable to the human eye or nose. It comes from the breakdown of uranium underground and can seep into homes through cracks in the foundation or floors, pockets in walls, or through the water supply. Radon is estimated to cause thousands of cases of lung cancer each year. The Surgeon General warns that it’s’ the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US today.Luckily, testing for radon in homes is easy and relatively inexpensive. Radon test kits can be purchased from hardware stores and the reduction systems can reduce the amount of radon within homes by up to 99%.
Similar to radon, lead can be found in many parts of our surroundings, including the air, soil, water, and inside homes. Lead paint is located in around 69% of homes that were built between 1940 and 1950, and 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1977. Sometimes, lead paint can be located underneath other layers of paint or wallpaper. Lead pain becomes most dangerous when it is deteriorating or when it is on surfaces that children are able to chew on. These can include windows and window sills, railings, and banisters.
If a home was built before 1979, it’s recommended that the owner have a risk assessment performed by a certified professional that will give information as to the location of any serious lead exposure possibilities and what actions may be taken.
-By Guest Contributor Emily Walsh