Poison Prevention Week is a campaign that is focused on preventing the unintentional and accidental poisoning and exposure to toxic substances, which is achieved by raising awareness and promoting prevention though public education. The AAPCC, American Association of Poison Control Centers, has teamed up with many organizations to help further their cause. This year, the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance joins the AAPCC in their endeavor by raising awareness for household toxins that may reside in homes. There are measurable steps that can be taken to avoid accidental exposures to toxins that can exist within homes without notice.
There is an ever-growing list of substances that exist in our homes that are or could potentially be toxic. These can include cleaning supplies (when combined), prescription or over the counter drugs, or anything that can be consumed by an unknowing child. However, they can also include unknowable things, only found through investigation and testing. The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance seeks to shed light on these products and chemicals, hoping that by doing so, American homes can be made safer.
Four of the most dangerous environmental toxins to a home are:
- Carbon Monoxide
Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that contributes to thousands of cases of lung cancer each year. It is naturally occurring and can find its way into homes through cracks in the floors or walls, gaps in floors or around service pipes, or even in the water supply. Similarly, carbon monoxide is another colorless and odorless gas that is emitted from poorly vented kerosene and gas space heaters, car exhaust systems, gas stoves, and leaking chimneys and furnaces, among others.
On the other hand, asbestos and mold can be seen with the naked eye and both can be toxic when inhaled. Asbestos, still legal in the United States, continues to be a threat in homes because it was widely used before 1970 within building materials because of its’ fire retardant properties. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that can take decades to surface. Mold, which cannot be easily eradicated from homes, can be the cause of allergic reactions and other respiratory problems, including asthma. It can grow on virtually any material and in any location where moisture is present.
There are, however, simple measures that can be taken to prevent any of these toxins from affecting your health or the health of your loved ones.
Radon: Testing kits for radon are very readily available, inexpensive, and easy to use.
Carbon Monoxide: Properly adjust gas appliances, and be aware of venting problems with fireplaces and gas stoves, have a professional inspect and perform maintenance on central heating systems each year.
Asbestos: If you believe your home to contain asbestos products, contact an asbestos abatement professional to inspect and assess your home.
Mold: Depending on the type of mold, homeowners are able to clean and the affected areas, though sometimes a professional contractor is necessary. Mold cleanup begins before it even starts with the prevention. If you notice any extra moisture or condensation within your home, consider reducing your indoor humidity.