3 THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT IGNORE IN YOUR HOME:

Protecting against Carbon Monoxide, Radon Gas, and Mold are just a few things you can do to make this winter safe, comfortable and healthy.

Winter weather can vary across the country. Regardless where you live, you are most likely to experience some type of cold weather. Many winter storms are accompanied by low temperatures, strong winds, and freezing rain, which can lead to other unhealthy conditions in your home. Here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe, comfortable, and healthy this winter.


 

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, and toxic gas which can cause sudden illness and death. Carbon monoxide is produced any time fuel-gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and replace old batteries.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide may include:

  • Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters
  • Leaking chimneys and furnaces
  • Back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces
  • Gas stoves
  • Generators and other gasoline powered equipment
  • Automobile exhaust from attached garages
  • Tobacco smoke

Health Effects Associated with Carbon Monoxide:

  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Angina
  • Impaired vision and coordination
  • Reduced brain function
  • Headaches, dizziness, Nausea, and Flu-like symptoms
  • Fatal at high concentrations

Reduce Exposure to Carbon Monoxide:

  • Check/Test you carbon monoxide detectors for proper operation (Replace old batteries)
  • If you cook on a gas range, use the exhaust fan on your stove hood.
  • Make sure to get an annual furnace service to ensure the safety and efficiency of your home heating system
  • Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
  • Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
  • Do not idle engines in an enclosed space (truck, car, power equipment inside a garage)
  • If you have a power vent, make sure nothing is obstructing the exhaust (Snow)

 

Reduce Radon Gas

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can have a negative effect on indoor air quality. Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that’s considered to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Radon Gas is a radioactive gas released from the normal decay of the elements uranium, thorium, and radium in rocks and soil. Radon exits in the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon levels can be higher in homes that are well insulated and tightly sealed. Basements, crawl spaces and the lower parts of the home typically have the highest radon levels because they are close to ground level. You can conduct your own radon test by purchasing a test kit at your local hardware or home improvement store. You can also hire a qualified contractor to conduct a test for you.

Sources of Radon Gas may include:

Radon gas can enter homes through foundation cracks, gaps in foundations around pipes, and open sump pits. Radon levels are usually highest in the basement or crawl space. According to the EPA, over 50% of the air you breathe in your home comes from your basement and or crawl space.

Health Effects Associated with Radon Gas:

You are exposed to radon when you breathe it in. Exposure to radon for a long period of time can lead to lung cancer. Radon gas in the air breaks down into tiny radioactive elements that can lodge in the lining of the lungs, where they can give off radiation. This radiation can damage lung cells and eventually lead to lung cancer.

Exposure to radon accounts for about 21,000 deaths from lung cancer each year according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Reduce Exposure to Radon Gas:

Testing your home for Radon Gas can help protect you and your family from a leading cause of lung cancer. If you find out that your radon levels are high, (level of 4 picoCuries per liter or more is considered high). you can take steps to lower the amount of radon in your home. The most common methods include;

  • Seal and caulk foundation cracks and openings to help reduce the amount of radon that can enter.
  • Crawl Space Encapsulation which seals the crawls space which minimizes soil gases from entering the home.
  • Install a radon mitigation system which includes a vent pipe and fan system which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside.

 

Prevent Mold

Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects. Mold can worsen allergies, trigger asthma attacks, and compromise health for many people. Mold spores spread easily and can grow anywhere: on carpet, clothing, paper, inside walls, above ceiling tiles and around leaking or condensing pipes. Mold needs moisture, oxygen, and a food source to thrive. Any moist area such as bathrooms, basements and crawl spaces are prone to the growth of molds. The easiest way to control mold is to control moisture. Securing your home against leaks and moisture for the winter will help prevent mold.

Sources of Mold:

Mold will grow in places with moisture including;

  • Around leaks in roofs, windows, pipes,
  • Where there has been flooding,
  • Wet, Damp Basements
  • Areas with frequent condensation
  • Damp, moist crawl spaces

Health Effects Associated with Mold:

The WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION PUBLISHED GUIDELINES reporting that occupants of damp or moldy buildings have up to a 75% GREATER RISK OF RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS. Studies have also established an association between indoor dampness with respiratory infections and disturbing the immune system. Allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects and risks of mold. Mold allergy symptoms and signs include:

  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Skin irritation or rash
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Coughing

Long-term exposure to mold can also compromise your immune system.

Mold Prevention:

The best way to prevent mold in your home is to control of moisture. Maintain relative humidity levels below 50%. Make sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home. If you have mold in your home, you need to clean it and repair the moisture problem. Quick and proper clean-up is important for your health. Consult with a professional to properly remove mold.

Solutions to controlling mold may include;

  • Dry wet areas immediately
  • Repair any type of seepage into the basement
  • Remove water-damaged carpets, bedding, and furniture if they have come in contact with water
  • Prevent moisture with proper ventilation
  • Vent appliances that produce moisture (clothes dryers, stoves, showers to the outside).
  • Monitor humidity indoors. (EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity less than 50% percent)
  • Direct water away from your home
  • Clean or repair roof gutters

 

Everyone can have a healthy home. Visit our web site for more information about maintaining a healthy home for you and your family. If you have any questions or need help, please give us a call or submit a request on our on-line form.