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Silent Killers - Carbon Monoxide, Radon, And Mold

Mar 2, 2008
There are a few silent killers in apartments and houses that you may not be aware of. No, we aren't talking about the smell of dirty feet that come from the apartment next to yours - the silent killer is gas and mold accumulations that occur in some apartments.

There are two deadly gasses that you are at risk for when renting an apartment: radon and carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the silent killer, because you can't smell it or see it, which makes detecting it impossible to do without special equipment. Carbon monoxide can often leak from heaters, stoves, the exhaust pipe in a car and other appliances. If you are living in an airtight apartment that has been sealed up pretty well, and has no outside ventilation, you are going to be at greater risk of getting carbon monoxide poisoning. If you've just moved into a new apartment (or the heat has just been turned on for the season), and you experience symptoms such as a headache, dizziness, nausea or convulsions, you need to get to fresh air as soon as possible. There are carbon monoxide detectors that plug into an electrical socket, and will warn you if you are in danger.

The second deadly gas that is common in newer apartments and houses is radon. This is a natural gas that comes from the earth naturally, and is scentless and colorless. Unlike with carbon monoxide, radon poisoning doesn't give you any symptoms that will tell you that you are being exposed. Instead, many people learn that they have been affected by radon when they develop lung cancer. There isn't any type of simple device to warn you that you are at risk, so you need to have your apartment or home tested. There are relatively cheap kits you can buy, which after following the instructions, you mail into a lab to get tested. There are more expensive devices that you can plug into the wall and give you a numeric readout of the radon level. If you are renting, ask to see the test results from your landlord. A lot of states require radon testing for newer buildings, so you may be able to find out the results.

A final killer that may be lurking in your apartment is mold and mildew. Although this problem is probably not as serious as carbon monoxide or radon poisoning, it is more common and can be really a big problem. Mold and mildew can build up when there is too must moisture in the air, and is prevalent in climates that have humid air. You probably know that mold can be beneficial to your health, but the mold and mildew that occurs because of wet conditions is going to give you breathing problems. Mold and mildew that has started to grow will continue to grow until it is removed, and will get on anything and everything, including furniture, walls, clothing and carpeting and flooring. Some of these items can't be cleaned properly, and need to be discarded, while other items can be cleaned with a bleach and water solution. Minor mold problems can be cleaned up by yourself, while major problems really need a professional to clean up (or a wrecking ball to knock down the whole building).

When renting an apartment, it is important to remember that you are going to be living there, and breathing in the apartment air every day. To keep yourself healthy, you should definitely make sure to consider the silent killers when renting your next apartment or house.
About the Author
James Mattox is the founder and CEO of WhatsTheRent.com, a 100% free site to search for roommates, apartments, houses, condos and more. Free and user friendly to either list a property for rent or search for a new place to call home. If it is for rent, you can find it at WhatsTheRent.com
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