Your home sweet home could be hiding some invisible hazards that put your family at risk. Here are three things every homeowner should be aware of, how to detect them and what to do if they are present in your home.
Carbon monoxide, or CO for short, is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas produced by burning fuels such as gas or propane. Exposure to low levels of CO can cause flu-like symptoms at first. But in high concentrations it can lead to loss of consciousness and death.
The only way to detect it is with a certified CO alarm. You can buy combination smoke and CO detectors. Install one on every floor of your home and near all sleeping areas. Test, maintain and replace your alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and leave your home immediately if the alarm sounds.
For centuries, lead was used in a variety of household products including paint and pipes. Then, scientists discovered that ingesting lead that seeped into the water from the plumbing or airborne flakes of paint can have serious health effects, including affecting young children’s neurological development and behaviour. Using lead in paint and plumbing was phased out in Canada in the 1970s, but some still exists in older homes that haven’t been completely renovated.
If you live in an older home that might have lead in the pipes, contact your municipality or local public health authority for advice and assistance with the testing. If you have lead in your drinking water, be sure to regularly clean your faucet aerators and always use water filters certified to remove lead in your refrigerator, kitchen tap and water pitchers. You can buy low-cost kits to test for lead in paint at your local hardware store or paint supplier. If lead is detected in either case, the testing company will advise you on next steps.
Radon is an invisible, radioactive gas that comes from natural uranium in the ground. In concentrated amounts, it is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. The only way to know if it’s accumulating to a dangerous level in your home is to do a radon test. You simply buy a test kit or hire a service provider and do the test in the lowest regularly used room in the home – say, a family room or basement bedroom – for at least 90 days. Then send it to a lab to find out your home’s radon level. If the result is high, it can be easily lowered; contact a radon mitigation professional about what you can do to reduce your exposure.
Learn more about radon and how to protect your family from it at canada.ca/radon