Lots of household items are potential irritants and/or can cause health complications. The most important fact, however, is the physiological wellbeing of the individual’s exposed to those potential items,” Bruce White, Education Committe Chair and First Vice President of the Board of Directors at the Indoor Air Quality Association, says.
In general, the healthier a person is, the less likely he or she is to be affected by the potential contaminant. “Also age and previous illnesses can play a role,” he adds. “It’s not a set in stone type of exposure and response and is more dependent on the person, location, dose, exposure length, and other contributing factors.”
“I think ‘killers’ is a strong word,” Spencer Hampy, CIE, CMC, and president of Oasis Indoor Environmental, says. But in reality, certain items in your home can cause people to get sick and, in extreme circumstances, even kill, he adds.
“An example of this would be a shower head that is allowed to become contaminated with legionella bacteria.” A person with an immune compromised system could contract Legionnaires disease and become very sick and even die from the disease, Hampy says. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
One thing is certain – the cleaner the location, or item is, the less likely someone will react to it, White says. An example could be a mattress at home or a mattress in a college dorm room. “Your mattress at home is most likely occupied by one or two individuals, whereas a mattress in a public domain (dorm room) may have multiple occupants over the lifetime of the items.” Also, you most likely wash your sheets weekly at home, whereas, we all know, college kids most likely do not, unless there’s a cleaning service.
The same holds true for living spaces. “If you own it, you’re more likely to take better care of it than someone who rents, simply because they have no vested interest in house,” White says. This can be problematic on a whole list of issues from leaks, to mold growth, to bed bug infestations and vermin infestations.