6 Surprising Health Hazards Lurking in Your Home

These everyday items pose hidden health risks.

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From the bedroom closet to the kitchen, you might not be aware of everyday items that could pose some hidden health risks. While saving money is important, the cheaper products are not always the safest choices for your family. Certain items around the house can deteriorate fairly quickly and put you at risk for injuries and a host of health problems. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has created an entire database of potential health hazards around your home.

Here are six household items you encounter every day that could be hazardous to your health:

1. Carpet mold and fungus. If you can’t seem to get that musty smell out of your home, mold and fungus in old carpet and rugs may be to blame. Fungus and old can develop under rugs that are exposed to water–bathroom rugs, for example, can be a hotbed for mold–as well as in dry areas that aren’t cleaned regularly. Shampooing and steam-cleaning the carpets alone won’t kill off mold; when carpets are still damp, mold colonies can redevelop fairly quickly. You may need to get some help from local mold remediation service providers if this has been a problem for many years. Keep your carpets fungus-free by steam-cleaning with a vinegar, alcohol, and cleaning solution mixed with warm water regularly. Also make sure to keep all areas under rugs as dry as possible and vacuum both on top of and under rugs to get rid of any mold spores.

2. Contaminated water-pitcher filters. Many savvy consumers have replaced bottled water with more-economical water filters. However, if you use any type of pitcher with removable filters, make sure you’re changing out that filter on a regular basis. If the water has started to flow out much slower than usual, you’re well past the change-out date. You should plan on changing out your water pitcher filter about every three months–even more frequently if you go through gallons of water every day. Stock up on filters so you and your household aren’t drinking contaminated water.

3. Plug-in air freshener refill solution. As convenient as those plug-in air fresheners are, those handy little refill packets could be harmful to your health. Puncture those packets too early and you’ll end up getting the oils on your skin. These oils can cause some bad skin reactions and contact dermatitis. Be careful when handling these refills and always make sure you’re inserting the right type of refill–never mix brands. Refills are designed specifically for use with the brand’s plug-in device.

4. Toxic ammonia all-purpose cleaners. Ammonia has been a standby household cleaning product for decades, but you need to make sure you keep this particular cleaning product out of the hands of young children. Ammonia-based solutions are among the most potent cleaning solutions out there, and mild inhalation can cause respiratory problems. Prolonged contact with the skin can trigger an allergic reaction. If you’re using these types of cleaning products regularly, remember to wear gloves and a mask so that you’re not inhaling fumes. Better yet, try using frugal green cleaners that can be better for your wallet and health.

5. Toothpaste toxins. If you’re not using organic or herb-based toothpaste and tend to stick with some of the major brands, you could be ingesting trace amounts of toxins and some artificial sweeteners you would never add to your diet. According to the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia, most conventional toothpastes contain abrasives like hydrated silica to polish the teeth, as well as sodium fluoride. Sodium fluoride has been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity in some studies, and many are sweetened with artificial sweeteners including saccharin and sucralose. Consider seeking out some fluoride-free, all-natural toothpastes and tooth powders instead.

6. Poisonous compounds in furniture polish. Another household cleaning item that could be damaging your health is furniture polish. Be very careful when applying liquid furniture polish to furnishings so you aren’t inhaling some of the fumes. The New York Times health section reports that furniture polish poisoning can occur when someone inhales an excessive amount of this polish. Eye irritation can also occur when spraying the polish directly on furniture. If you are experiencing symptoms of poisoning from this or any other household product, you can call 911 and the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Sabah Karimi is a popular Yahoo contributor and a writer for the top consumer blog Wise Bread.