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"Many homes fall short of the basic requirements of a healthy home and contain several hazards that adversely affect human health," explains Rebecca Morley, executive director at the National Centre for Healthy Housing (www.nchh.org). "Scientific research shows that housing-related hazards such as mould, toxic materials such as lead and asbestos, and poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide and radon, pose a broad spectrum of risks." The good news? By doing certain things, we can cut these risks. "The widely recognised ‘Seven Principles of Healthy Homes' are that a home is dry, clean, pest-free, safe, contaminant-free, ventilated, and maintained," adds Rebecca.
Most people know how deadly carbon monoxide can be, but fewer people are aware of the risks posed by radon, which is formed by the radioactive decay of the small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soils. "Two of the most dangerous hazards in the home are radon gas and carbon monoxide, warns Rebecca Morley. "They're both invisible to the human eye and since they have no smell or taste, most people ignore them until it's too late." "Radon can appear in any type of home - old or new," says Rebecca. "Radon is rated as one of the top environmental risks and the leading environmental cause of cancer. It's the top cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, causing about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year." For this reason, a careless attitude to DIY could well spell disaster. By sealing floors and walls, increasing under floor ventilation and installing what's known as a radon sump, we can reduce the radon in our homes. Visit www.ukradon.org for more information.