Fighting environmental toxins is a challenge we all face, even in our own homes. For many Americans, the risk of developing illness, attributed to home pollutants, is quite significant. Because we can not see the toxins, we often do not associate illness directly with the environment in our homes. From dust to dust mites, mold to mildew, American homes, in many cases, are more pollutant than the air we breathe outside.
For homes with basements, the toxins may be more significant. As a homeowner, it is important to understand the risks associated with basements, both finished and unfinished, in order to more clearly grasp the potential health risks to your family.
Unfinished basements, by far, are more toxic than finished basement. For many homeowners, avoiding the unfinished basement is commonplace. However, even if we ignore the unfinished basement, and do not frequent the area, our entire home is still at risk for toxic exposure. In an effort to make your home less toxic, it is important to control water leaks and water entry, from the basement into the rest of the house. Additionally, controlling mold is important as this toxin, more than any other, will place your family at greatest risk.
While most homeowners believe their home is toxic free, mold can continue to grow, even in basements that are free of flooding and water leaks. In fact, it is the humidity and condensation in the basement that most often creates a mold risk.
In the finished basement, many homeowners feel they are not at risk for toxic exposure. However, as with unfinished basements, this is simply not the case. Again, with humidity and condensation, coupled with water leaks and flooding, the finished basement of your home can create a health risk to the entire house. Because basements are generally cooler than other parts of the home, it is important to insulate the pipes and walls correctly to reduce the amount of condensation. Keeping the finished basement warm in the winter months is important to reducing the development of toxins in the home.
As with any home environmental or pollutant issues, the source of your health concern may lie in the basement level. Even in homes with finished basements, if the insulation and heat is not well maintained, this will set the stage for the development of pollutants and toxins, such as mold. To ensure your home is properly ventilated and free of toxins, request a home inspection once a year and address any areas of concern, including water leaks, excessive humidity and insulation.