Uncover these five little known health hazards in your home and learn how you can fix them.Photo: fotostorm/iStockphoto
The hazard: Storing meat on a high refrigerator shelf. Dripping juices from beef, poultry or pork can contaminate other foods with dangerous bacteria.
The fix: “Keep meat in the fridge’s meat drawer away from fruit and vegetables,” says Dr. Jonathan Kerr, a Belleville, Ontario, family physician. As an extra precaution, use the plastic bags at the supermarket’s meat counter to keep your products under wraps and their juices contained.
The hazard: A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that sharing your bed with the family pet can put you at risk for illness. Zoonotic infections such as plague and tapeworms can make the leap from animals to humans. Pets that have picked up ticks from outside can also spread Lyme disease to their owners.
The fix: Kerr says that relegating Fido and Kitty to their own beds will lower the risk of your child contracting zoonotic diseases, including Lyme disease – a threat that is on the rise in Canada. “We’ve seen a big increase in ticks,” he says. “Pets can bring a tick into [the], and it can bite the child while they’re sleeping.” To keep both your family and pet healthy, maintain an animal-free bedtime, and visit your veterinarian regularly.
The hazard: According to Health Canada, plumbing in Canadian houses built before 1975 may have lead water pipes. Exposure to lead can cause learning disabilities in children.
The fix: Ask your water utility if there are lead service lines in your area. A plumber can also inspect the pipes inside your home. If you do have lead pipes, Kerr says that it’s a good idea to get your water tested. Contact your municipality about their own water sampling program or search online for "analytical and testing laboratories in Canada" to find an accredited lab near you.
The hazard: Cranking up the headphone volume on personal music players can hurt little ears. A study by Common Sense Media discovered that 52 percent of children under age eight have access at home to a music player or tablet. Without supervision, hearing loss could sneak up on your kids.
The fix: Do a sound check. “If you can hear music while sitting next to your kid, it’s definitely too loud for your kid’s ears,” says Kerr. Lower the volume to a safer level and put limits on your child’s usage of headphones.
The hazard: Carpets can harbour mould, dust and pollen, causing breathing difficulties or allergies.
The fix: Clean your carpets frequently. Vacuum every week and do a deep, professional-style cleaning once a year. Not only will your carpets be spotless, but your home’s air quality will improve as well. If there’s carpet in your basement, Kerr recommends running a dehumidifier. It will eliminate the dampness that can cause toxic mold growth underneath the carpet.
Don't panic! These are also easy to fix. Find out more here.