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Protect Your Home and Lungs by Removing Hidden Toxins

Oct 12, 2018|

Spring cleaning is a tradition most people are accustomed to. However, many people often neglect cleaning in preparation of frigid winter months.

When autumn begins, the leaves fall, the temperature drops, and it’s the last time to take care of any pesky home projects before you feel trapped inside all winter long. Why wait until it gets too cold to get prepared for winter?

October is Healthy Lung Month, a time to be aware of ways your home could potentially be putting your lungs at risk. Read on to discover some common lung dangers in the home as well as a few easy ways to improve your indoor air quality this fall.


Projects around the home can range from sweeping, to knocking down a wall, to updating your home’s plumbing and electricity. If you’re planning on opening walls up or taking on a more extreme project, it’s important to take the age of your home into consideration and look out for possible toxins lurking in the skeleton of your home.

Asbestos is a toxin that can be found in older homes but is especially likely to be found in homes built between the 1930s and the 1980s. This group of six naturally occurring minerals made of microscopic fibers was used in many home construction materials. Disturbing asbestos in the walls, insulation, flooring and other areas of the home can potentially release these toxic fibers, allowing for possible consumption by anyone in the area.

After asbestos enters the body, the fibers are likely to become trapped in different organs such as the lungs, abdomen, and heart. The ingestion or inhalation of this toxin has been known to cause mesothelioma anywhere from 20 to 50 years later and the prognosis is very poor.

If you want to start a project that may put you at risk of asbestos exposure, it’s smart to have your home tested by a professional, because being at risk right now may create unwanted health consequences in the future. Although it may be costly, safely removing asbestos from your home will save you and your family from health problems down the line.


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Unlike asbestos, any home is at risk for radon; it doesn’t matter if the home is new or old.

Radon is a colorless, tasteless, odorless type of radioactive gas that results from the natural decay in the mineral uranium, found in soils beneath and around the home. The gas often seeps through the floor or basement walls and travels throughout the home through cracks and holes in the foundation.

Too much exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer—nearly 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-related cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 1 in 15 U.S. homes have high levels of radon. This is important to note because even if your house is tested and radon free, a relative or friend’s home could potentially be putting you in danger.

Testing your home for radon is inexpensive, quick, and highly recommended to keep your family safe.

There are two options you can pursue when having your home tested for radon. You can perform a test by ordering a home test kit available for purchase online or in your local hardware store or hire a trained service provider to test for radon in your home for you.

Short-term testing can take between 48 hours and 90 days, while a long-term test can last more than three months.

The ideal place to test for radon is on the main floor of the home, where people tend to spend the most time. The best rooms to test should be dry and well-lit, so unfinished basements, bathrooms and kitchens should be last resorts for testing locations. There is no safe level of radon. If the results come back reading four pCi/L or more act fast and take care of your home.

Carbon monoxide

When it comes to air quality, one thing many people don’t think about is a colorless and odorless gas: carbon monoxide. This toxic gas is a silent killer. And the risk for carbon monoxide poisoning increases in the colder months.

The best way to protect yourself against CO poisoning is with a carbon-monoxide detector. This device serves a function much like a smoke detector, notifying you with an audible alert when carbon monoxide is detected so you can get to safety.

Vivint Smoke Detector
A carbon monoxide detector helps protect your family from this colorless and odorless gas.
While off-the-shelf CO detectors are easy to install and effective, increased protection for your home and family comes when a CO detector is integrated into a comprehensive smart home system.

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If a leak is detected, you will be notified with the traditional audible alert as well as on your smart hub (if you’re home) or smart home app (if you’re on the go). But detection goes beyond a simple beep and phone notification. With 24/7 home security monitoring, someone is always there to check that you’re OK, and alert authorities in an emergency.

The Bennett family experienced the lifesaving power of a professionally monitored smart home system soon after their system was installed. Because professionals were monitoring the carbon monoxide alerts from the system, they were able to send help and save the family. See the full story:

Indoor plants

90 percent of our lives are spent indoors, so it is imperative that we take care of the air quality inside of our homes. In 1989, NASA released a now-famous experiment that proved indoor plants can improve the quality of air in the home or workplace by removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene.

indoor plant
Indoor plants can improve the air quality in your home.
Formaldehyde is a colorless substance often used in household products. At room temperature, formaldehyde vaporizes into the air, which puts everyone in the home at risk. Common products around the house that may contain formaldehyde are laundry and dish detergents, bath soaps, gas stoves, and some furniture.

Benzene, also known as benzol, is a clear liquid accompanied by a sweet odor. Benzene quickly evaporates into the air, dissolves slightly in water, and is highly flammable. Products around the house that may contain benzene are different paints, glues, other detergents, and furniture wax.

Counter the hidden effects of formaldehyde, benzene, and other toxins with indoor plants. Suggested plants that contribute to greater health are Mums, Spider Plant, Dracaena, Snake Plant, and Bamboo.

Easy steps to take that will improve lung health

Do a deep cleaning of your house

When you’re ready to get the ghosts and pumpkins out to decorate, give your house a good cleaning to remove any dust hiding in the corners. Vacuum all carpets, clean and shake out bedding, and wash all the curtains. Sweep all hardwood floors and linoleum. Dust any corners high and low throughout the house.

Monitor humidity levels to prevent mold

Damp weather has the ability to create mold in dark places in the home such as the basement and bathrooms. Be mindful of your home's humidity levels—a healthy home will be somewhere between 30% and 50%, with 45% being ideal.

Regularly replace your HVAC air filter

One easy-to-forget chore is replacing the air filter in your HVAC system.

home air filter
Regularly replace the filter in your HVAC system for improved air quality.
Air filters play an important role in purifying the air in your home and protecting against common airborne irritants like dust, mold, pollen, pet dander, and even virus carriers. Dirty or clogged air filters can hamper or even damage your HVAC system.

As important as these filters are, it can be a pain to keep up with the air filter replacement schedule. So many people don’t bother.

Remove the hassle of remembering to replace your air filters with Vivint Air Filter Service*. This service integrates with a Vivint system to send you a handy email or in-app reminder when it’s time to change your filters.

Vivint app notification
New air filters can also be shipped to you automatically, right when you need them. No more time spent driving to the store, and you save money by having a more efficient HVAC system, enjoying cleaner air year round.

Take action now to improve the air quality in your home

Take initiative now to start caring for the air in your home. Unknowingly breathing in toxins can cause serious illness and even sometimes fatalities.

This Healthy Lung Month, ask questions, make a plan, and take action to create a happier and safer environment for you and your family.

* Vivint Air Filter Service is available new and current Vivint customers. Current customers can call 855.871.2796 to request this service. If you're looking to get started with a smart home, please give us a call at 844.481.8630 for a free smart home design consultation.

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