How to make your home safe from cancer

August 02, 2018 | by Alexander Hantel, M.D.

While no one can control everything in their environment, you should try to maintain your home as a safe place for you and your family to eat and sleep.

Look out for some of these cancer-causing agents to help you stay healthy and make your home safer.

  1. Don’t smoke and keep your home smoke-free. When one person smokes inside your home, you expose everyone to secondhand smoke. It gets even worse -- children who are exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke breathe the same dangerous chemicals that smokers inhale.
  2. Have your basement checked for radon. Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless and odorless radioactive gas that can accumulate in your house. Radon can enter through cracks in floors, walls or gaps in the foundation. The highest levels of radon are often found in your basement and long term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. Hire a professional or purchase a do-it-yourself radon testing kit to check your home for radon exposure. 
  3. Watch your water. If your water source is from a private or small community well, have your water tested. Well water can become contaminated with bacteria, pharmaceuticals or other chemicals. You can purchase a water filter to help remove toxins within your water. Keep it safe -- carry your own glass, steel or ceramic water bottle filled with filtered tap water. 
  4. Choose your cleaning products carefully. Household cleaning products, including soaps or polishes, may contain harmful chemicals that cause cancer. According to the American Lung Association, even products advertised as “green” or “natural” may contain ingredients that cause health problems. Avoid products containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release dangerous chemicals in the air. VOCs can be found in building materials and personal care products. Stay away from air fresheners and choose products that have reduced amounts of VOCs.
  5. Check your home for asbestos. Asbestos is made up of a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibers. In older homes, materials made of asbestos had been used for many commercial and industrial applications. If products containing asbestos are distributed, they can be released into the air, irritate your lungs and lead to lung cancer or mesothelioma. Asbestos is only considered dangerous when the fibers are broken or disturbed. Hire a qualified asbestos inspector to inspect your home or find an asbestos contractor to remove it safely.

It’s never good to put yourself at risk for cancer. You can stay ahead of the curve by doing your own research, talking to your doctor, avoiding smoking and drinking and detecting cancer early with regular checkups and screenings.

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