Whether you just signed the lease to your first apartment, snagged the ultimate bachelor pad, or are in the process of making a significant “grown up” purchase (aka first house), it’s important to know if your new place of residence will have any health hazards. Let’s face it, even the ultimate party house should not be hazardous to your health (it’s often risky enough as is).
Before you give your final thumbs up on moving in, you’ll want to make sure the apartment, condo, or house won’t end up negatively affecting the health you work so hard to maintain. Don’t expect that a landlord, a realtor, or even a former tenant will give you all the information you need to know about the condition of the home. You’re a smart guy, you have to ask questions and look beyond any cosmetic blemishes on the property. Remember, paint and some new flooring can be a pretty convincing band-aid which may be covering some pretty serious problems.
Learn as much as you can know before moving in. Don’t know what to look for? Here are some potential health hazards that can lurk in all types of homes:
Mold is kind of a rite of passage, especially when you’re a young guy living in a house with a bunch of roommates who can’t seem to master the art of cleaning out the fridge. Scrap a little mold off of that block of cheese and it’s fine. Moldy fridge food is part of growing up, but house mold is definitely not.
Indoor molds, like Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus, are common and can be found in damp or humid showers, basements, and even workout spaces. Unless you’ve got a superpower sense of smell (it’s scientifically proven that most men don’t), it’s not likely that you will smell the mold that’s lurking in the humid spaces of your home. If you spot mold growing, clean the area with bleach and try to keep the air less humid with a dehumidifier. If mold is undetected or untreated, it could lead to numerous health issues such as allergies, fever, shortness of breath and even mold infections in the lungs. While a little mold may not be a deal breaker, it’s vital to stay on top of the problem before it forces you out.
If you think that asbestos sounds kind of old, it is. Asbestos, a heat-resistant fibrous silicate mineral, has a long history of being used in a variety of housing materials due to its fire-proof and heat-resistant properties. In fact, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), asbestos was a commonly used in insulation and other building materials for homes built between the 1930’s and early 1970’s, although it can be found in any type of residential or industrial building.
Asbestos can be in everything from vinyl flooring, ceiling tiles, attic insulation, an old ironing board pad, or roofing materials. Even Hollywood used asbestos in such holiday classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Goldfinger”.
So, what’s the danger? When asbestos becomes damaged, the fibers can be inhaled, causing serious and deadly lung ailments, such as mesothelioma, that lay dormant for decades. If you decide to channel your inner Nick Offerman and do some demolition, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. While protection is a big deal in-house projects, there’s no solid protection to keep you safe from asbestos; sorry, you’re not invincible, you better call the professionals. The good news (there is some), if you have asbestos in your home and it’s in good condition, CPSC says that it probably won’t hurt you as long as you leave it alone and monitor any changes. Any questions? Call a certified asbestos professional.
You know what’s cool? Having a well-stocked liquor cabinet complete with a bottle of Lagavulin 16 Year Scotch. You know what’s not? Opening that same cabinet during an intimate gathering of friends and finding an infestation of cockroaches.
You don’t have to rent an apartment from a slumlord in Brooklyn to experience a pesky insect infestation. Cockroaches love food and humidity; they don’t care if you’re a cheap Velveeta guy or an aficionado of Brie. Did you know that New Yorkers and cockroaches share a similar story of immigration, as well as sticking around and growing up in a neighborhood? Interesting, but no excuse for raiding your liquor cabinet.
One of the best ways to avoid an infestation is to keep your place as clean as you can. Even if you rarely touch your kitchen, a cockroach can decide to raid your stash of protein powder, so wipe down your surfaces, keep food in airtight containers, and stay caught up with your dishes. If you take a long, steamy shower after a visit to the gym, make sure you’re ventilating the humidity otherwise you might be inviting cockroaches (and don’t forget, mold). If you live in an apartment building, you’re more likely to face the daily battle of infestations and while it’s a major annoyance, an infestation can be harmful to your health resulting in gastrointestinal issues and respiratory problems like asthma.
Another pest that can lead to similar respiratory issues is the microscopic dust mite. Do yourself a favor and be that guy that launders his sheets more than every two weeks and if you don’t have one already, get a microfiber cloth for dusting. Plain and simple truth, dust mites are nasty.
Faulty Smoke Detector
Get annoyed that your smoke detector goes off every time you slightly burn a frozen pizza? If you’re like the thousands of others who take the battery out of a smoke detector during a busy day in the kitchen, you could very well forget to put it back in. It’s likely you’ve been schooled on fire safety and smoke detectors ever since you were told to “stop, drop, and roll”, but did you know that three of every five home deaths resulted from fires in homes without smoke detectors or detectors that didn’t work (ie. without battery or mechanical error)?
Whether you’re enjoying a nice candlelit dinner with your number one or indulging in a cigar with an old college roommate, your good times could go up in smoke in just a matter of moments. Be a responsible grown up dude and supply your place with a few good smoke detectors. Don’t let an out-of-control fire be your number one health hazard.