When it comes to staying safe and remaining healthy, there are the obvious things we do every day to protect ourselves, such as looking both ways before crossing the street, paying attention as we descend the stairs, and watching out for ice in the wintertime. But other hazards that affect us as well, most of them invisible to the eye. Below are 13 environmental hazards to watch out for and what you can do if you detect them.
In or Around the Building
Oftentimes the mold in our homes or building is not readily visible and often goes undetected until it starts to affect our health. However, since some symptoms are the same as a cold, stuffy nose, wheezing, and watery eyes, most people believe they may just have a cold. However, since some mold can make a person seriously ill, even kill them, it is important to regularly test for mold.
2. Lead Paint
Lead paint for consumer use was banned in 1978, but homes and buildings built before then will likely have lead paint under layers of newer paint. Lead poisoning symptoms include learning difficulties, hearing loss, irritability, seizures, and more. There are several options for removing lead, but it is best for professionals to take care of it.
Formaldehyde is found in plywood, pressed wood, tobacco smoke, and is found in other commercial products as well and has been linked to cancer, skin rashes, and other issues. There are air test kits to detect formaldehyde in the air and the best ways to remove formaldehyde from the air in homes and businesses is with an air purifier that has a deep-bed activated carbon filter.
Surprisingly, the EPA has no ban on the use of asbestos, but it is a regulated air pollutant that is still used in fireproof clothing, motorcycle brakes, and some construction materials. Difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, and facial swelling are associated with asbestosis from asbestos. It is possible to safely remove asbestos yourself, but many people prefer professional help.
Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that causes lung cancer and radon is caused by the natural breakdown of uranium. Symptoms of radon exposure include hoarseness, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. There are radon testing kits you can buy. There are ways of taking care of radon, such as sealing sump covers.
6. Carbon Monoxide
This one is another common and silent killer. This is caused by appliances such as gas fires, central heating systems, water heaters, and other sources. It is recommended to use carbon monoxide detectors in the home and business. One way to prevent carbon monoxide is to have your appliances regularly serviced.
On Your Property
7. Underwater Tanks
An underwater and underground tank can cause a whole number of issues. Whatever the tank is storing can leech into the ground and then carried off by the rain into the sewer and contaminate drinking water, lakes, streams, or even catch fire.
8. Damaged Sewer Lines
Damaged sewer pipes can cause flooding, water contamination, and damage to roads and properties. If the sewer line is causing flooding, it can damage the properties in the area. It can also damage roads and properties by causing a sinkhole.
Groundwater can become contaminated from road salts, feces, chemicals, and all sorts of man-made and natural materials. This not only makes it unfit to drink, but can cause animals to become sick and contaminates streams, rivers, and plant life as well.
In the Nearby Area
10. Superfund Sites and Brownfields
A brownfield is a land that has been previously developed and may be potentially contaminated. Superfund sites are abandoned waste sites such as mines, oil refineries, and other industrial-type areas. These places contaminate the land and water with oil, radioactive material, or other waste matter.
Flooding is a common environmental hazard that damages homes, businesses and can cause other environmental hazards from that damage.
12. Natural Gas
Natural gas is used to heat the home, but it is also used to make antifreeze, fertilizer, and other materials. Natural gas produces nitrogen oxides, which then produces smog, but produces much more methane than CO2.
13. Air Pollution
Air pollution can not only reduce the visibility of the skyline, but can have a profound impact on people, plants, water, and animals. It increases the risk of asthma, heart attacks, strokes in people, causes acid rain, and alters cell structures of plants
There are many ways to protect yourself from many of the environmental hazards, or at least mitigate their impact. On days with low air quality, minimize the time you spend outside. Be sure to regularly test for mold, radon, and other hazards and have a plan in place for when and if other hazards do occur or are detected.