Household Safety-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, November 1, 2010

Household Safety

Many of the problems we deal with here at the university environmental-wise are also things that can be hazards in your homes.  Although the regulations may differ from one situation to the other, a hazard is still a hazard, regardless of the location.

Older homes often still have asbestos present, frequently around very old pipes or boilers.  It is also still pretty common to have asbestos taping around heating ducts.  Insulation that is white or light grey and either fibrous or paper-like, may contain asbestos.  When the material is undamaged, there is not much cause for concern.  Should damage occur, fiber release may occur and removal (by an asbestos firm) is usually indicated.

Lead paint is also often present in older homes.  I noticed that instant-read test kits, like we use here at CMU, are available at some hardware and home stores, often in the cleaning products aisle.  Testing old paint before removal is important to help prevent lead from getting into the air where it can be inhaled.  Special procedures should be implemented should lead containing paint be found, often requiring removal by a contractor.

Several times a year, there are Household Hazardous Waste pick-up days in Allegheny County.  This is an opportunity to rid your home of unneeded hazardous chemicals, such as paints, solvents, paint strippers, cleaners, drain openers and pesticides.  The cost is minimal (though not free!) to have these hazards removed safely from your home.

By: Mark Banister