Is Your Home Making You Sick?

Long periods of vacation or travel often leave you feeling homesick, pining for the warm embrace of family and a hot meal that lets you know you are well and truly home. Homesickness tends to pass without any lasting health problems, but there are certain things in your home that can literally make you sick and you may not even know it. Look out for these things that can give you a literal case of homesickness:

1. Mold

Mold is everywhere and we barely even know it. If you have asthma, mold will make breathing even more difficult. If you have mold allergies, you may experience congestion, wheezing, and irritated eyes.

Toxic black mold is what you really have to be careful with. Exposure to black mold leads to a wide range of symptoms, many of which resemble cold and flu symptoms. In more severe cases, black mold can lead to nausea, heart problems, vomiting, and bleeding in the nose and lungs.

Mold is easily seen and forms on areas high in moisture, such as shower walls and ceilings. Smaller mold areas can be removed with water and detergent, but for larger areas, you should contact a professional. Always cover your mouth and nose when cleaning up mold.

2. Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a naturally occurring gas that is produced in the burning process of fuels like gasoline, oil, kerosene, charcoal, and wood. It’s poisonous to humans but is invisible, tasteless, and odorless, making it impossible for us detect without assistance. Unfortunately, such a poisonous gas is a common part of almost every household as it becomes a common element in the heating system, water heaters, and cooking. Alternately, carbon monoxide from your car may leak into your home from a connected garage.

Carbon monoxide poisoning often causes sudden headaches and makes you feel dizzy, tired, nauseous, and sick to your stomach. More severe cases can lead to vomiting and eventual death.

It’s vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, and to check it regularly to make sure it’s working. If you feel sick when you’re home, fine when you go out, and feel sick again when returning home, you may have a leak. Make sure your heating equipment, vents, and chimney are in good working order.

3. Radon

Another colorless, odorless gas, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, right behind cigarette smoke. Radon is produced in the process of natural radioactive decay in uranium ores, phosphate rock, shale, granite, and common rocks; in other words, just about everything you might find in soil. Radon is literally everywhere. It has been found in all types of homes and in every state, though generally in very small amounts.

The best thing you can do is to test your home at least every six months. Test kits are available for around $10. If you discover high levels of radon, you’ll need to install a venting system to direct the gas away from your home. You should also test your home if you have granite countertops.

4. Nearly everything in your kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of your home and often the only part of your home where you physically consume things or prepare those things for consumption. Unfortunately, a lot of things in your kitchen can make you sick.

For example: the kitchen sponge. Research shows that the average kitchen sponge harbors 150 times more bacteria, mold, and germs than a toothbrush holder. Now imagine how many dishes you wash and the counters you wipe down. You’re essentially spreading those germs over everything.

Cutting boards are often contaminated by raw meat, poultry, fish, and produce you cut. To limit contamination and potential food poisoning, purchase two cutting boards: one for the raw meat, poultry, and fish, one for your produce and cooked foods.

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