Home is where the heart is, but it’s also where tons of health hazards dwell. From mold, mothballs, dust mites, carpet chemicals and more, what you breathe and touch at home could actually be making you sick.
Does your bathroom, closet or basement have an old musty odor? Blame mold spores. They make themselves at home in damp spots.
“Mold can grow within 24-48 hours where there’s moisture and what they consider a food source,” says Jeff May, co-author of My House is Killing Me! and The Mold Survival Guide (both from The Johns Hopkins University Press).
It doesn’t take much to make mold happy and multiply: It loves dust, wood, paint, paper, cotton or oil, among other things. It’s also attracted to modern building materials like drywall. Complex heating and cooling systems can make mold matters worse, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma.
Mold spores can trigger asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, the Mayo Clinic reports. Allergic reactions include sneezing; runny or stuffy nose; itchy, watery eyes; and inflamed sinuses.
Common spots to find the fuzzy stuff – it often grows in a circular pattern and can be black, brown, white, yellow, pink or greenish-blue. Mold can be found on basement walls and carpets, closets and on wooden backs and bottoms of furniture stored in damp spaces.
Protect your family: Use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in mold-prone rooms below 50 percent. Also, try using an oscillating fan in the bathroom after showering and fix leaks as soon as possible. Lastly, remember to keep all rooms well-ventilated. If you suspect mold, check the area with a flashlight (some of the fungi can only be seen with a bright light). If you can’t find the mold or its cause, contact a professional as soon as you can.
“An American Society of Home Inspector (ASHI) member can be very useful in determining moisture sources,” May says.
To tweens, toddlers and preschoolers, prescription and over-the-counter medications may look as tempting as candy, thanks to their interesting shapes and colors.
Protect your family: Store drugs where kids can’t find them and use a safety lock on that cupboard or cabinet. Never leave meds within easy reach, such as your purse, night table or countertop. Make sure all bottles have child-resistant caps. Be sure to never