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Healthy Homes: 3 Hidden Home Dangers


Home is our refuge. It’s where we eat, sleep, raise our families, and recharge from busy days. We spend some 65 percent of our lives inside the home. Given the importance of our dwellings, it’s critical to be aware of many potential hazards in the home that can be harmful to your health.   


More than 39 million U.S. households contain at least one health hazard, according to the U.S. Census. Some of these household hazards can be seen, such as lead from chipping paint and old pipes, mold, dust and pests. Other dangers in the home are invisible to the eye, such as carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases released from many common household products. 


We should especially protect children from home health hazards. With their rapidly developing brains and bodies, kids are at great risk for harm from toxins and other dangerous substances. Also, for their size, children eat more food, drink more water, and breathe more air compared to adults. This means they’re potentially exposed to higher doses of harmful substances. 


People of all ages are impacted by home hazards, especially when it comes to the air we breathe.  

While we’re often concerned about outdoor pollution, many people don’t consider the risks from poor air quality in their home. Indoor air pollutants such as dust, mold, and pests can trigger allergies, asthma and other reactions. And those with weakened immune systems or allergies and asthma are most vulnerable. VOCs from household products can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and have more serious health effects over the long term.  


Here’s the good news: there are many things that you can do to protect your family from these hidden health dangers. Read on to learn more.  


1.  Mold  

Mold is a type of fungus that can be found anywhere, indoors and outdoors.  Itcan look white, black, brown or yellow, and smell musty.  Mold thrives in warm, damp places where there is little air movement, and grows by producing spores — small airborne particles that travel through the air and can be easily inhaled.  For all people, as well as those sensitive or allergic to mold, respiratory issues can occur. 



Where it’s commonly found 



Health effects  




What you can do 


2.  VOCs 

A variety of household products can emit gases that can pollute the air in your home. 



Where they’re found 



Health effects  

The health impact of VOCs depends upon the type of chemical that you’re breathing in, and how much and how long you’re exposed to it. 

Short-term exposure over a few days, can lead to:  


Long-term exposure over a few years, can increase the risk for: 


What you can do  

While it’s not necessary to toss out common household products that contain VOCs such as nail polish remover and bleach, it’s important to follow the product’s instructions when using it. The following tips can also help limit your exposure to VOCs. 


3. Dust mites 

Dust mites are tiny, insect-like pests that commonly live in household dust, feeding off of dead human skin cells. They thrive in warm, humid environments.  The waste and body fragments from dust mites are a common allergen, a substance that can trigger allergic reactions or asthma in some people.  


Where they’re found 



Health effects 




What you can do 


General good housekeeping and keeping indoor moisture under control can help to reduce some of these health hazards in your home. And while it’s impossible to reduce every risk in your home, staying aware of some of these common dangers can help protect you and your family. Be sure to check with a health care provider if you think you or a family member may have breathing issues, allergies or health problems related to your home.