HOME HEALTH HAZARDS and WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM
The dangers from some home health hazards such as food, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning have been pretty well publicized, but there are many others that can creep up on you and cause you harm because they are not as noticeable at first.
We will review 3 of these home health hazards in this article. They are dust mites, mold, and moths.
Dust mites are top home health hazards, especially because you can't see them with the naked eye. Yet they can be one of the most common causes of asthma and allergies.
WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE
Dust mites are microscopic, eight-legged creatures that are 0.3mm in length (7,000 can fit on a fingernail) and are invisible to the naked eye.
A male dust mite has an average life cycle of 10 to 19 days, while a mated female dust mite can last as much as 70 days. She may lay 60 to 100 eggs in the last 5 weeks of her life alone.
WHERE THEY CAN BE FOUND
Dust mites can survive in any climate. They especially love the bedrooms and kitchens of our homes.
Because they need moisture to live and they feed off the dead skin cells our bodies shed, their favorite hiding places are mattresses, sheets and pillows.
In dry climates, the mites survive by deriving moisture from the humidity generated by human breathing, perspiration and saliva.
THE DUST MITE FECES CAUSE THE ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
It is the dust mite feces that is the main cause of the development and aggravation of allergies. A dust mite will produce 200 times its own body weight in feces during its short lifetime!
Itchiness, sneezing, inflamed or infected eczema, watering/reddening eyes, sneezing repeatedly and frequently, runny nose, and clogging in the lungs are typical symptoms of dust mite allergy sufferers.
TIPS FOR LIVING WITH DUST MITES
There is no way to permanently get rid of dust mites. The only answer is to put a barrier between you and them. Here are some tips:
For more in-depth information on dust mites, please read our article here.
Mold (as well as the type of mold known as mildew) is a form of fungus and is one of the top home health hazards.
After a flood occurs, the removal of the resultant mold is a priority. Mold is fast-growing and the mold spores it produces will travel wherever there is moisture and a food source. It is very attracted to building materials such as drywall as well, and can start its damage behind the walls before you notice it.
The ability to exist on just about any type of material (as long as there is organic material on it) gives these micro-organisms the dubious distinction of being called the chief agents of deterioration.
Regardless of the particular organic material that may be present, neither mold nor mildew can resist surfaces where there is moisture. They both prosper in dark, humid, damp, and poorly ventilated environments.
It may surprise you to know that mold and mildew are invisible and odorless! What are those black, green, yellow, etc. spots then? And what about that moldy odor? What you are actually seeing and smelling is the end result of the digestive process of these micro-organisms as they eat through your organic possessions.
The mold spores can trigger asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, as well as sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes, and inflamed sinuses. They can also cause serious fatigue.
MOLD PREVENTION TIPS
To continue reading about mold and its prevention please continue reading here.
The presence of moths in the home would probably not correctly be considered home health hazards. That is, unless you consider the emotional stress caused by the permanent moth damage to your grandmother's valuable oriental rug or the severe home health hazards that can be caused by the use of mothballs!
HOW DOES MOTH DAMAGE HAPPEN?
It is not the moth itself but the larvae of the moth that cause the damage. The life cycle of the moth can last from 2 months to 2 ½ years.
The adults lay eggs on products that the larvae will consume. Each female can lay from 100 to 150 eggs which hatch in about 5 days. The small white caterpillars vary in size from 1/16" newly hatched to 1/3" fully grown.
The larval stage itself can last from 2 to 30 months. The reason for this great variance in the life cycle is dependent on the availability of food. If gone unnoticed, the larvae on a wool rug can feed for almost 2 ½ years. An infestation of only several weeks can result in pile loss the size of a fist.
The moth larvae can feed on a mixture of natural and synthetic fabrics. They cannot, however, feed on materials made entirely of synthetic fibers. But if the synthetic fibers have pollen, hair, dead insects or dried animal remains on them, they will hide and feed on items with synthetic fibers as well.
Moth larvae thrive in dark, undisturbed areas where a rug or carpet gets little traffic and is not often vacuumed, especially such as a rug or carpet under furniture.
They are particularly attracted to the keratin in animal hair. The wool alone in an oriental rug is susceptible, but just imagine a dirty rug covered in dog and cat hair. That would be like a smorgasbord to this creature!
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE A MOTH PROBLEM?
Be on the lookout for the following:
- Flying Adults Moths.
- Loose carpet or rug fibers resting on top of the pile. This means the larvae have actually eaten the knots off the foundation of the rug.
- Cocoons, approximately 1/8 inch diameter x ½ inch long. They will be lightly fuzzy cylinders, usually the same color as the pile of the rug. Larvae camouflage their cocoons to blend in with the color of the wool that surrounds them.
- The actual larvae squirming along the pile surface and underneath the rug.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE FOUND EVIDENCE OF A MOTH INFESTATION?
To find out what to do if you have a moth infestation, as well as how to prevent further problems with a special note about the Dangers of Mothballs, please continue reading here.