They lurk in the walls, in furniture and in the air you breathe. They can't be seen, smelled or heard, yet they can be harmful and even deadly. Toxic fumes and dust particles are a hidden danger, especially in older homes. If you suspect your home is contaminated you should have it professionally inspected and cleaned. Do not attempt to move or otherwise disturb the hazard. Here is an explanation of the most prolific and dangerous invisible household hazards:
If your house was built or painted before 1978 there is a good chance that it contains lead-based paint. Lead-based paint becomes a hazard when it is disturbed (i.e. by sanding or chipping) and minute paint particles become airborne. Inhalation or ingestion can cause permanent damage including hyperactivity, sterility, and impairment of reading and hearing abilities. Children up to 6 years old and pregnant women are particularly at risk.
Because it is fire retardant and an excellent insulator, asbestos was widely used in the construction of homes until the 1970s and early 1980s. Heating pipes and duct insulation, floor tiles, siding, ceiling tiles and even plaster may contain asbestos. Asbestos becomes harmful when it is disturbed and tiny particles become airborne. When inhaled asbestos particles can damage lung tissue and cause severe health problems (such as lung cancer).
Decomposing uranium causes radon gas. It exists in soil, rock and water and can seep into a home through the foundation (even in newer homes). It is a known cause of lung cancer. Radon gas is odourless and is therefore impossible for the layman to detect without professional help.
Carbon Monoxide is an odourless gas caused by combustion sources like gas appliances, wood stoves/fireplaces and automobiles. Initial warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include sore throat, dizziness, headache and sleepiness - prolonged exposure can be fatal. Carbon monoxide detectors are available commercially and are required by law in some Canadian districts.