Is your Old Luxury A New Health Hazard? Dangers of Living In Older Homes.

Is your Old Luxury A New Health Hazard? Dangers of Living In Older Homes.

Dec 31, 2023

With their unique character and history, older homes can be charming and desirable places to live. However, they also come with potential health risks that modern homes may not face. Awareness of and mitigating these risks is crucial for homeowners and potential buyers.

The Hidden Health Hazards of Older Homes

Living in older homes can indeed present various health hazards. Some of the main dangers associated with older homes include:


Lead, a toxic metal, can be found in various places in and around older homes, particularly those constructed before 1978. This is because, during that time, lead-based paints and plumbing fixtures were widely used. Homes built prior to 1978 are, therefore, more susceptible to containing lead. 

Exposure to lead poses significant health risks, such as headaches, abdominal pain, and anaemia. The risks are even more pronounced in children, where lead poisoning can profoundly impact brain development, the nervous system, and digestive organs. 

To mitigate these dangers, it’s crucial to consult a certified lead professional before undertaking any home renovations. Attention should be given to areas with peeling, chipping, or cracking paint. Additionally, replacing lead pipes and conducting soil tests in areas suspected of lead contamination are important preventive measures.


Mould, a common household issue, thrives in humid environments and areas with water exposure. It’s frequently found in basements, bathrooms, under sinks, and around leaky roofs or windows. 

Mould can grow on a variety of building materials, including ceiling tiles, wood products, paint, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, and upholstery. Homes that are most susceptible to mould infestations are those with a history of water damage or inadequate ventilation, as well as properties located in humid climates. 

The health risks associated with mould exposure are significant, particularly respiratory problems, allergies, wheezing, red or itchy eyes, skin rashes, and an increased risk of asthma in children. To address mould issues, small infestations can be cleaned by homeowners taking proper precautions. 

However, larger infestations, especially those resulting from significant water damage, should be handled by professional remediation services. It’s essential to eliminate the source of moisture to effectively prevent mould from recurring.


Asbestos, a hazardous material once widely used in construction, can be found in various components of older homes, extending beyond insulation and roofing. It is often present in old vinyl floor tiles, adhesives, and certain types of window caulking and glazing. Homes built before the 1990s are particularly at risk, as asbestos was more commonly used in home construction materials during that era.

The primary health risks associated with asbestos arise when its fibres become airborne, which can occur during home renovations or as the material naturally degrades over time. Disturbing asbestos-containing materials like Artex can release these harmful fibres into the air. Exposure to airborne asbestos fibres significantly increases the risk of developing serious lung diseases, including various forms of cancer.

To prevent the dangers posed by asbestos, regular inspections are recommended to identify any asbestos-containing materials in the home before they become a health hazard. If asbestos is discovered, it should only be managed or removed by licensed professionals, as the health risks associated with inhaling asbestos fibres are high. Homeowners are strongly advised against disturbing these materials themselves due to the serious health implications.

Carbon Monoxide  

Another significant issue in old houses is the presence of carbon monoxide (CO), a potentially lethal gas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carbon monoxide is invisible and odourless, and it is responsible for an average of 439 accidental, non-fire-related deaths each year. This gas is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels in various household appliances, such as heaters that burn oil, gas, or coal. Older homes with outdated or damaged heating systems or chimneys are at an increased risk of carbon monoxide exposure due to the higher likelihood of improper combustion.

The health risks associated with carbon monoxide exposure depend on the gas concentration and the exposure length. At lower concentrations, symptoms may include fatigue, while higher concentrations can lead to more severe effects such as dizziness, confusion, and, in extreme cases, even death.

To mitigate the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, installing carbon monoxide detectors in the home and regularly testing them for functionality is crucial. Additionally, it is essential to conduct regular inspections and maintenance of HVAC systems and chimneys. These preventative measures are key to avoiding the accumulation of carbon monoxide and subsequently reducing the risk of exposure.

Key Takeaways

Addressing these issues in older homes is essential for maintaining a safe and healthy living environment. Regular inspections and being aware of the specific risks associated with older properties can go a long way in ensuring the well-being of the inhabitants and the structural integrity of the home.