16 January 2012

10 Ways Your House Can Kill You

By: Keith Pandolfi, This Old House online

Danger on the Homefront

"We love our homes. They provide us with warmth, shelter and, best of all, security. That's why it's so darn shocking when they turn against us. Like it or not, a house can be a virtual arsenal of lethal weapons. Whether its poisonous gasses, fiery flames, rabid bats or electrocuting appliances, even the sweetest Colonial Revival can be as armed and dangerous as Rambo on a bad day. Here are 11 ways our home sweet homes can take us down. “

Click here for the article 

The most important but not obvious ones are:

“Mold” A lot of people don’t realixe how easy it is to get mold in your house. Even a very minor roof leak, say a few drops every time it rains, can cause mold to grow on the backside of drywall. Normal drywall is surfaced front and back with paper. Paper is the favorite food for mold. The unfortunate thing is it usually starts on the backside where you can’t see it. It virtually never disappears on its own. The drywall must be removed by professional mold abatement specialists. Not removing it could result in chronic illness.

“Chemically Packed Paint Fumes” Painting a home’s interior with just any paint that you buy off the shelf will be dangerous to your health If you pick the wrong one. That new paint smell*, which may make people notice that something was recently completely, could be causing health problems. When buying paint for your home make sure it is “Zero VOC” – Sherwin Williams uses the label “Harmony” to identify it. If “Zero VOC is not available either avoid that brand or supplier of interior paint or opt for “Low VOC”. I would still avoid “Low VOC” whenever possible due to the fact that “Low” essentially means it will only irritate you a little bit. Also improperly storing non-“Zero VOC” paint can lead to health problems too. In one situation several years ago I looked at a house for sale that was newly painted inside. The realtor was proud to point out that the seller just completed painting all the rooms. Unfortunately the smell from the off-gassing was so bad that my sinuses were swelling up and burning. I would never consider buying that house.

*This new paint smell applies to other things. The new car smell is usually not healthy as it is off gassing of dangerous chemicals. For instance Volkswagen’s interiors are made from Zero and Low VOC materials. That is the reason that their cars have almost no new car smell. Some other competitors do not take the step to care about the issue but fortunately more are catching up.

Golden Rule to VOC’s: If it has, or is made from, petroleum based chemicals, it is dangerous to your health at some level.

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