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Toxic substances in homes: is your family affected?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2017 | Environmental Law |

We spend a lot of time in our homes and we often think of them as a place of rest and security. However, many family’s homes are unknowingly contaminated with toxic substances that can affect the health of those living there. Here are 3 common types of toxic substances in homes and how to detect them.


Mold may seem harmless, but it can lead to health problems if not treated. Mold grows in damp places, such as bathrooms, basements, in clothes or towels that are not dried for days or any room after flooding that is not properly cleaned.

How to detect it:

Mold is visible, though many people do not realize the extent of the problem by sight. If large amounts of mold are visible, there is a high chance it has grown behind the walls or floor of the room as well. Mold can also cause the following symptoms:

· Coughing

· Watery or itchy eyes

· Runny nose

· Rashes

What to do:

In small amounts, you can clean mold yourself. However, if you notice a lot of mold and suspect it has spread behind the wall, have a professional inspect your home and take care of the problem.


Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that enters homes when there are breaks in the foundation or floors. It is a serious health concern that needs to be resolved immediately. Many homes have small levels of radon, but high levels of this gas can create high risk for lung cancer.

How to detect it:

Radon must be detected with a testing kit. They are relatively cheap and available at almost any hardware store.

What to do:

If your living space tests for high levels of radon, look into a mitigation contractor immediately to contain the threat and make your home safe again. Plan for relocation until the problem is resolved.


Asbestos is a dangerous substance that is commonly found in insulation or other building materials. Though it is rarely used when constructing homes anymore, any houses built before the 80’s may contain this substance.

How to detect it:

A professional will need to collect samples from your home and send them to a lab for testing. Testing is especially relevant if you notice tears or exposure of at-risk materials, such as rips in your insulation. It can also cause these symptoms:

· Bad coughs/coughing up blood

· Chest pain

· Unexplained shortness of breath

· Trouble swallowing

What to do:

You will need a professional contractor certified in asbestos removal. This should be a different contractor from the one used to test your home; otherwise, you risk misleading information about how much work actually needs to be done and paid for. You may also need to relocate until the problem is resolved for safety reasons.

How an attorney can help

If there is a toxic substance in your home, an environmental law attorney can help you seek financial relief during relocation. They can also examine your case and determine whether a previous owner or landlord is accountable for the problem, fighting for any compensation you deserve.