Health Hazards Found In Old Houses

5 Health Hazards Found In Old Houses

There’s no denying that old houses have a certain charm to them. They can be immensely spacious, with loads of natural light flooding through large windows. And if the house is small enough, it will also fit your budget if you’re hunting for inexpensive property.

Nonetheless, if you’re considering buying a house that is older than half a century, you should know the risks that come with it. These risks will not only impact your pocket and budget but also affect your and your family’s health. For that reason, let’s discuss some health hazards found in old houses. 

1. Asbestos 

Asbestos (a naturally occurring fibrous mineral) was a popular building material in the early 1900s. Since asbestos has fireproof and insulation properties, it was most commonly used in several different building materials. The usage continued until the United States government banned it in the 1970s-1980s. 

The ban was implemented because it was determined that asbestos caused several chronic health issues. So, if you’re buying an old home built before the 1970s, there’s a high chance that its building material contains asbestos. It may be found in the ceiling tiles, floor tiles, pipes, cement, shingles, boilers, etc. For example, a drain line cleaning company in Austin, Boston, Texas, or wherever your house is located, can inspect your property beforehand to fix possible damages, or a home renovation company can check for different problems caused by water leakage and renovate where needed.

While the mere presence of asbestos, if concealed, is not hazardous. However, asbestos exposure increases if the material is crumbling or you plan to renovate the house. Due to its exposure, you can develop various life-long diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, etc. If you’re willing to learn more about mesothelioma and the resources available to you, visit to gain useful information.

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2. Lead-Based Paint 

Before the 70s, lead was commonly used in paint to create a long-lasting finish, speed up the paint drying process, and help the walls resist moisture. However, the US government banned lead-based paint in 1978, and for a good reason. The reason is that lead can enter your body in several different ways. For example, a toddler could chew the paint chips, which can cause direct ingestion of lead. Moreover, the paint can also get ingested through hand-to-mouth activities of your children.

It can also get inhaled if you sand, scrape, or heat it. Lead poisoning can cause various health problems in adults, but kids are most vulnerable to its harmful effects. Upon ingestion, it can damage the nervous system and the brain, leading to severe health complications. Remember that putting a fresh coat of paint on top of it will only delay the inevitable. It is possible to remove lead-based paint from the house. But in that case, seek professional services to complete the task as doing it yourself can risk exposure. 

3. Lead in water 

Unfortunately, in old houses, lead is not only found in paint but also pipes used for drinking water. The use of lead in water pipes began around the 19th century. Builders preferred it over iron because lead is easier to bend and more durable than iron.

The installation of lead pipes continued till the 1980s, when it was banned because of health awareness regarding lead poisoning. Therefore, if you live or plan to buy an old house built before the 1980s, you’ll likely encounter lead-based water pipes. And if the lead in the pipes erodes, it will leach into your water. 

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4. Mildew and mold 

Mildew and mold enter the home through vents, windows, and doorways. It is not generally problematic in low concentrations. However, humidity and water can make it grow exponentially, leading to uncontrollable mold and mildew spreading around your house.

As a result, it will exacerbate your allergies, cause infections, and increase respiratory problems. While old houses have higher concentrations of mold and mildew, new houses also serve as breeding grounds if not cleaned properly.

5. Carbon monoxide 

You may be familiar with carbon dioxide, but what is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that forms when there’s incomplete fuel combustion. It is a byproduct of coal, gas, or burned oil. Normally, if the vent system is working properly, CO will vent out of the house without any problem. But the gas can start accumulating in the house if there is a clogged chimney or a damaged heater, anything that obstructs the proper ventilation system. 

It can cause tiredness in people when exposed to it in low concentrations. However, higher concentration exposure can lead to lethargy, confusion, and dizziness and may even lead to death. Carbon monoxide is highly dangerous because it has no smell, color, or taste. Unfortunately, you won’t even know that it’s poisoning you until it’s already too late.  

Old houses are at a greater risk of containing high concentrations of carbon monoxide because they have old chimneys and furnaces that require repair. So, if you move into an old house, always install a carbon monoxide detector and test the levels regularly. 

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Understandably, not everyone can afford new houses considering the high market prices of properties. But being aware of these health hazards allows you to take precautionary steps to ensure your and your family’s health doesn’t suffer. Old houses might look exquisite in their grandeur, but they secretly hide various health hazards. For this reason, if you buy an old home, ensure that it is well tested for all harmful elements, repaired, and renovated by professionals. 

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