Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content


Home Contaminants

Health and safety in the home are influenced by many factors, such as:

  • building materials used to construct and maintain the house
  • resident behavior
  • income level
  • age of the house
  • the house's immediate surroundings.

Hazards that may be found in housing in all neighborhoods are:

  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • exposure to substances such as:
    • radon gas
    • lead
    • pesticides
    • household cleaning products
  • allergens such as dust mites
  • hazards such as clutter and poor lighting related to unintentional falls
  • carbon monoxide from poorly ventilated combustion.

These hazards can cause a multitude of illnesses and negative health effects including:

  • asthma attacks
  • lung cancer
  • lung disease
  • injuries
  • poisonings.

The Tracking Network maintains data and information for only two of many common hazards: lead and carbon monoxide.


Lead was commonly added to residential paint in houses built before 1950. At that time the lead content in paint was as high as 50% by weight. This practice caused lead poisoning of millions of children, mainly in low-income families. Although lead-based paint was banned for use in housing in 1978, homes and other buildings constructed before the ban may still contain lead-based paint. Whether these homes are renovated, or the paint simply deteriorates, these older homes pose a threat to children living in them.

Read more about childhood lead poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous waste gas produced when fuel is burned. Unsafe levels of carbon monoxide may be caused by the following actions:

  • using poorly maintained or unvented heating equipment
  • running vehicles in garages or other enclosed spaces
  • using a gas stove or oven to heat the home
  • clogged chimneys or blocked heating exhaust vents
  • running generators or gas-powered tools in enclosed areas or near windows, doors, or vents
  • using a propane camp stove, heater, or light inside a tent
  • being near boat engine exhaust outlets
  • improperly vented natural gas appliances like stoves or water heaters
  • house or building fires
  • cooking with a charcoal or gas grill inside the home or other enclosure

Carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. Read more about carbon monoxide poisoning.

  Top of Page

Additional Information

Radon Task Force, Environmental Public Health Tracking Program

 Top of Page