Angie's List: Hidden home toxins
Your home should be your safe haven, but it can also harbor toxins that could affect your family's health.
"It was such a small area that got moldy, but then when I had it patched and a few months later, found mushrooms in the carpet," said homeowner Rebecca Shopp.
Shopp realized it was time to call a professional because the mold had gotten out of control.
"I had not gone into the crawlspace and I don't want to go into the crawlspace. That's when they found a lot more mold than I was expecting," she said.
Mold can be anywhere and, when left unchecked, it can destroy your home and can cause eye irritation and shortness of breath.
"The majority of the time they should seek some help, because once you disturb the mold then the spores tend to spread, so we are trying to in our situation control that environment. The homeowner in small situations, if the mold is not to prevalent, then they can do the clean-up themselves," said asbestos abatement contractor Mike Honan.
Professionals say mold is a moisture problem and in order to rid of mold, you need to find what is causing it and fix that problem. Be sure to find out if mold damage is covered by your homeowner's insurance.
Another concern in your home is radon. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
"Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is caused by the breakdown of uranium in the earth and it can actually seep into your home, so it's important to have your home tested for radon," said Angie Hicks with Angie's List.
The EPA estimates one-in-five homes are affected by high levels of radon, which is why a detection kit sold for $25 at your local hardware store is a good thing to have.
Also, be aware of asbestos. It was commonly used in buildings before the 1970s because of its fire-resistant qualities, but it's not good for your lungs. Products still made with asbestos must be labeled and homeowners should be concerned if it becomes airborne.
If you're concerned your home has one of these toxins, the first step is to actually have your home tested. The key is to have someone test it that is an independent contractor and will send the test off to a lab to be analyzed. You don't want the same person who tests it to be the person to fix the problem.