Your home is more than just where you hang your hat. It’s where you live; you eat, sleep, raise your children, entertain friends, and prepare to face the world there. You view your house as a safe place – a place where you shouldn’t have to worry about endangering your health. Yet, despite our best efforts, certain things about your home remain a threat to you, your significant others, your parents, and your children.
During our years working on homes, we have encountered all kinds of potentially hazardous health risks, such as radon, carbon monoxide, and asbestos – you name it, we’ve seen it.
Years ago, we were repairing the home of a man who seemed to be in his final days. He was bedridden and seemed to be beyond cure. However, while in the house, we discovered that his furnace was leaking carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is known as The Silent Killer: it cannot be seen, heard, smelled, or tasted, but it can lean to brain damage and death.
After discovering this leak, we were able to use our rehab programs to replace the furnace. The man is alive and well to this day, no longer bedridden, and enjoying life.
We know these dangers are present in all communities, but to what extent? Studies are readily available for urban communities, but there is a tremendous lack of information on these contaminants in rural communities like Kosciusko County.
To remedy this, we launched the Healthy Homes Initiative in 2017. Partnering with a local college’s nursing program, we educated, trained, and sent out nursing interns to Kosciusko homes. Equipped with testing kits, surveys, and knowledge about home contaminants, these interns helped us gather information that will soon be used in a published study on health hazards in our county. This information will be used by health workers, both locally and nationally, to prepare them for identifying and combating any ailments caused by home contaminants.
The information is shared with the homeowners who take part in the program so that they can better protect the health of their families. If we discover any contaminants, we will work with you to recommend the best course of action to make your home a safe place once more.
After a brief hiatus, we are back at work on the Healthy Homes program. In 2020, we will be partnering with Grace College’s nursing and exercise science programs!
Do you think your home might be at risk? This program is free of charge to anyone living in Kosciusko County. Sign up below, or reach out to us directly at 574-269-7641. ext. 106
HOME HEALTH HAZARDS:
Radon – You can’t see radon. You can’t smell it or taste it. But it may be a dangerous health risk in your home.
A cancer-causing radioactive gas, radon is linked to thousands of deaths each year. Inhaling air containing radon is one of the most common ways of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today – only smoking causes more lung cancer-related deaths.
If you both smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is precipitously high.
Carbon Monoxide – Poisoning from poison monoxide can cause severe brain damage and even death. Often caused by gas appliances (such as stoves, furnaces, and water heaters), this ailment can affect your health invisibly for a long time before its effects are noticed.
Mold/Moisture – Having moisture in your home often leads to mold, which can greatly aggravate allergies or asthma. Sometimes, problems caused are minor – a runny nose or a skin rash. However, those with compromised immune systems, such as those going through chemotherapy, are especially vulnerable.
Lead Paint – Especially dangerous to young children, lead poisoning can be contracted from lead paint, which is often found on old toys, old houses, and dust from old attics. This contaminant can severely impact mental and physical development.
Asbestos – Asbestos fibers are found in many building materials – ceiling tiles, floor tiles, cabinetry, shingles, siding shingles, and many others – and can become lodged in your lungs if inhaled.
Although asbestos-containing materials are easy to crumble, the fibers themselves are almost indestructible, meaning the human body cannot break them down. When left in the human body, asbestos fibers can lead to Mesothelioma, respiratory diseases, or lung cancer.
Pests – The number of problems that pests can cause to your home and health is huge. Termites can damage the physical structure of your home. Rats and mice can damage your wiring or cause electrical fires due to the flammable nests they build. Additionally, their fecal matter, fur, and skin cells can spread disease and contaminate your food on top of aggravating asthma.
Secondhand Smoke – Everyone knows the impact smoking has on your lungs. However, we sometimes forget the impact it has on those around us – our children, significant others, or neighbors. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. Premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome, and learning disabilities are all distinct possibilities for pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke. Children are also very susceptible and can develop cancer as a result of exposure.