There are many ways in which toxic gases can get into our home. These gases can be invisible and sometimes odorless making them difficult to detect. Identifying and reducing these gases is important for the sake of your health – exposure could cause organ damage or death in some cases. Here are some of the common toxic gases that can end up building up in homes and how you can eliminate/prevent them.
Carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous gases that can enter your home. Exposure can kill you in a matter of hours, so you need to act fast when there is a leak. A carbon monoxide detector is the best way to detect this gas – other feelings of drowsiness and nausea there is no way of detecting it with our five senses.
Gas plumbing and heating faults can often lead to carbon monoxide leaks – you may require a new furnace heat exchanger or a gas oven may not have been installed properly. You should call up an emergency gas plumber to immediately assess the problem if you suspect that you have a leak. Open all windows in your home and get out of the building until a plumber arrives.
Hydrogen sulfide produces a distinct rotten egg smell making it one of the easier gases to detect. Exposure to high amounts of this gas can cause organ failure or death, but this is usually over a gradual period of time.
Faulty plumbing is likely to be the case of such a gas leak. Clogged drains and cracked sewage pipes may result in the release of putrid sewer gas, which contains high levels of hydrogen sulfide. A plumber should be able to identify and fix the problem.
Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that can only be picked up using a radon test kit. Exposure to radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer beyond smoking.
Radon is a natural gas that seeps up through the earth. Certain areas have higher levels of radon and you may be more susceptible to radon poisoning living in these areas. Radon usually gets into homes through cracks in the basement or foundations and may build up in a home if it is not well ventilated. Fixing up your home’s foundations and keeping your home well ventilated can drastically reduce the risk of radon exposure.
VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are gases produced by household products. Exposure to large amounts of VOCs can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, as well as causing nausea and respiratory problems. Some VOCs are also thought to be carcinogenic.
The most common sources VOCs in the homes include paints (particularly fresh paint), air fresheners, disinfectants and moth repellents. When shopping for products containing chemicals, it can be worth researching the VOC levels – many modern paints and cleaning products are now taking measures to lower and even eliminate VOCs, however there are still some products that emit high levels of VOCs.