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Glossary: Home health hazards

A collection of definitions relating to health hazards commonly found in the home including asbestos, radon and mold.

Active radon-Asbestos abatement

Active radon: Active radon is a term used to describe a system that can provide radon remediation within the home. This system works by installing a pipe that extends below the foundation of the home up through the residential building structure and out through the roof. A fan attached to this system draws the radon up and forces it out. This prevents the radon from getting trapped in the home structure.

Allergen: An allergen is a foreign substance that a body is unable to tolerate. There are many different types of allergens that can be found in the environment. Common allergens include pet dander, pollens and mold. These substances can trigger allergies when they come into contact with the skin or are inhaled during respiration.

Asbestos: Asbestos is a mineral that is often used in the construction of building materials. It’s utilized for its absorption capabilities, tensile strength, resistance to heat and ability to repel electrical and chemical damage. Some products that are manufactured from asbestos include roof shingles, floor tiles and older home insulation. The fiber minerals that make up the asbestos can be inhaled causing damage to lung tissue during respiration.

Asbestos Abatement: Asbestos abatement is the practice of removing asbestos-containing materials from public and private building structures. People who perform these services must ensure that the fibrous materials in asbestos do not enter the air allowing them to be inhaled during respiration. 

Friable asbestos-Passive radon

Friable asbestos: Friable asbestos is a material that is not compacted or bound together. When this type of material is dry it has the ability to crumble, turn to powder or be pulverized. Friable asbestos can easily enter the air making it easy to ingest or become inhaled.

Lead: Lead is a mineral found naturally in the Earth’s crust. This mineral is often used to create products found around the home. Lead can be found in lead-based paint, ceramics, stained glass, batteries and ammunition. Lead-based paint was used on many homes prior to 1978.

Mold: Mold is a fungus that thrives on plant and organic material found in the environment. Mold produces spores which are spread through the air and have the capability of attaching to solid surfaces to grow and multiply. Mold requires a food source, proper temperatures and adequate levels of moisture for survival. When inhaled, mold can cause health ailments that often resemble asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, skin rashes and other symptoms.

Passive radon: Passive radon is a type of radon reduction system that can be installed to prevent radon buildup within the home. This system has a pipe which is installed below the foundation of the home at one end and allows radon to travel to an area away from the home structure. This prevents radon from collecting in basements and crawl spaces of the home, causing health risks for the residents and pets that reside in these structures.


Radon: Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally created when uranium breaks down. This gas is found in all types of soil, rock and water. Similar to carbon monoxide, radon is colorless and odorless so it is difficult to detect without proper testing. Residents can suffer severe health problems due to radon exposure, and it’s the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon typically enters a home by seeping in from the soil and penetrating the foundation.

Radon decay: Radon decay is the process in which uranium and radium break down. This occurs in all types of soil, rock and water sources found on the Earth. This decay produces a radioactive gas known as radon. This gas is toxic and cause severe medical ailments in people who come into contact with it.

Spore: A spore is a single-cell microorganism that has the ability to multiply on its own. Spores often develop into colonies when provided with necessary food and environmental conditions. Common spores include mold which will rapidly multiply and spread throughout a specific area. Most spores can be carried through the air, making them present in most environments.

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