Many of us spend long periods of time in our homes. You want to feel safe in your home and not worry that things in your home may be making you or family sick. By being aware of what hazards may exist in your home, you can reduce your risks. The following section deals with common household concerns.
There are many types of mould that can be found almost anywhere, both outdoors and indoors. Not all moulds are harmful but some can cause property damage and may make some people sick. Mould requires a source of moisture and materials to feed on. Health Canada does not recommend testing for mould in the home setting as there are no standards and most homes will have some moulds detected. Instead it is important to remove the conditions that cause mould to grow and clean up any areas where mould has been found. The following links provide information on how to prevent and clean up mould:
- Moisture and Air: A Guide for Understanding and Fixing Interior Moisture Problems in Housing
- Mould in Indoor Air – Health Canada
- Mould and Your Health
- Moulds – Residential Indoor Air Quality Guidelines – Health Canada
- Flood Cleanup – Prevent Mould Growth
Radon is a naturally occurring colourless, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas that forms when uranium breaks down in soil, rock and water. When radon is released from the ground outside it gets diluted by fresh air and is not a concern. When radon enters our living areas through basement floors, and cracked foundations it can accumulate to higher levels and be a risk to our health. There is a simple test that can check your home for radon. These kits are available at most building supply and hardware stores. For more information on radon please follow these links:
- Radon Information – Health Canada
- Radon – The Lung Association Ontario
- Radon Reduction Guide for Canadians – Health Canada
- Occupational Health and Safety Answer Fact Sheets on Radon
Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is used extensively in many products that have been manufactured. Lead may be found in older piping in your home, paints, in the soil, air and food.
Lead exposure and accumulation in the blood is mainly a concern for infants and young children as it may have harmful health effects on their neurological development and behaviour. Children are at greater risk because they frequently put their hands in their mouths and also may put objects such as paint chips, toys, furniture and jewelry containing lead into their mouth. Adults may be exposed to lead through occupational exposure and hunting. For more information on lead exposure check these links:
- Lead Information Package – Some Commonly Asked Questions About Lead and Human Health
- Lead Exposure Among Recreational Shooters
Asbestos is a material that was used before 1990 to produce products such as cement and plaster, residential and commercial heating systems, insulation in our homes, siding on our houses, etc. Asbestos was thought to be a valuable product because it was fire and weather proof. When asbestos fibres become airborne and are breathed in by a person they can cause lung cancer and other lung diseases.
There are no significant health risks if materials containing asbestos in your home are tightly sealed preventing the fibres from becoming airborne. If you choose to have asbestos removed from your home or workplace it is best to have it done by a professional company as there are legal health and safety requirements for anyone dealing with asbestos.
Household Hazardous Chemicals
Every day we use many products in our homes to clean, sanitize, remove odours, renovate our homes or for personal care. Some products may have chemicals in them that affect the air quality in our home and may be making us sick. It is important to carefully consider what chemicals we bring in to our homes and weigh the benefits of these products over the risk they may pose to our health. Visit this website for more information on Household Chemical Safety.
Information for Tenants
If you rent your accommodations, it is important to do your homework before you sign a lease or move in. You should always inspect the unit you are moving into to check for issues that may become a problem. Issues such as mould, pests, lead and asbestos can put you and your family at risk. Use this checklist to help guide you through the inspection process.
Landlord and tenant issues fall under the Residential Tenancies Act 2006 with most maintenance issues falling under the Maintenance Standards Regulation 517/06.
Your municipality can assist you with some issues where there are property standards by-laws.
The Health Unit is there to help you with advice regarding drinking water issues, and provide information on how to reduce your exposure to household hazards.
The Landlord Tenant Tribunal may need to be involved, if your landlord does not deal with the issue in a reasonable amount of time. The tribunal can be reached through this website or by calling 1-888-332-3234. Customer Service Representatives are available Monday–Friday, except holidays, from 8:30am–5:00pm.