Mike Holmes Helps You Banish the Silent Killers Hiding at Home
Lifestyle When it comes to advice on the home, Holmes is your go-to-guy. The businessman, investor, philanthropist and popular television host spoke with Mediaplanet about best practices for kicking silent killers to the curb.
How did you get involved in home renovations and construction? When did you know you wanted to make construction your career choice?
I was probably about 6 years old. I loved hanging out with my dad — he was my superman. He was a trained plumber, but a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy, and I would always watch him work on our house. He was always helping out our neighbors and families with their home, too. As I got older, he let me help him, and he would start telling people to hire me. My dad was my biggest influence growing up. He inspired me to keep working and learning, which helped me end up where I am today. I even have one of my ears pierced in his honor.
As a silent killer, why is mold so harmful to your home, family and health?
Mold itself isn’t fatal, but it can trigger respiratory ailments like nasal allergies and asthma. In extreme cases, mold overgrowth can lead to serious health problems. In my opinion, mold has been blown out of proportion as a health risk. There are other much more serious problems that could be in your home that can do a lot more harm. Obviously we don’t want it growing in our homes, but when it comes to a small patch of mold, it’s easy to clean. Fix the source that caused it and move on. We need to pay more attention to contaminants like formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, radon and asbestos, which can cause long term health issues and could potentially be fatal.
What are the best practices to prevent mold in your home?
Every home will have some mold producing germs and bacteria — this is natural, so don’t panic. Mold needs three things to grow: air, moisture and a source of food. The best way to prevent mold from growing is to control and prevent high humidity levels and moisture intrusion. If you have moisture sneaking into your home, you need to find the source — that’s the number one way to stop it in its tracks.
I have mold in my house; what do I do now?
If the mold in your home covers less than 10 sq. ft., you can probably handle clean up on your own using a microbial cleaner — but make sure you’re wearing gloves, goggles and a mask. You don’t want to touch or breathe in the mold spores. You shouldn’t just clean the mold, you’ll also need to find the moisture source, so the mold doesn’t return. If the area is larger than 10 sq. ft., you’ll want to call in a professional mold abatement service. They can clean up the mold safely and also help you find the source so it doesn’t keep coming back.
What are the other silent killers in a home?
Radon is the number one killer; it’s responsible for an estimated 15,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States alone. Next is carbon monoxide exposure, which affects between 20,000 and 30,000 Americans per year, with around 500 of those cases being fatal.
What makes them silent killers? Why are they often undetected?
You can’t see, smell or taste radon and CO, so you don’t know that they’re there. Radon is a radioactive gas that is caused when the uranium in our soil breaks down. When radon is released into the outdoor atmosphere it dilutes harmlessly, but when it gets into our homes it can rise to dangerous levels. Being exposed to high levels of radon for prolonged periods of time increases your risk for lung cancer. CO on the other hand can kill within a few days when exposed to low levels, and within a few minutes if exposed to high levels. Both of these are preventable with proper testing and monitoring.
Any other advice to keep a home safe from silent killers?
The key is to test. Every home should be tested for radon. Radon levels can change over time, so you should retest your home at least every two years. Install a radon alarm so that you’ll know if there are any spikes in your radon levels that require your attention. Also, every home needs smoke and CO detectors. Test your units monthly. You need to know you can count on them in an emergency. If you regularly suffer from a sore throat or nausea, the source could be in the air you’re breathing at home. An indoor air quality test can uncover pollutants in your home like radon, formaldehyde and asbestos — all of which are dangerous carcinogens.