5 Carbon Monoxide
Carbon dioxide has gotten a bad rap lately, what with it being one of the main greenhouse gasses contributing to the whole global warming thing. But it’s CO, carbon monoxide, that’s the real black sheep of the family. While CO2 may be slowly damaging our entire planet, CO can kill a person in a matter of minutes if in great enough concentration. It can come from exhaust fumes, gas stoves and furnaces, and even from fireplaces or cooking charcoal. And it’s odorless and has no flavor, just to twist the blade.
Mold is present in almost every home. But if a large mold “bloom” has formed in your home, here’s a tip: get out of your home! The most dangerous types of domestic molds are usually called “black mold,” but they can be brown, too. And these fungi are certainly no fun at all when you and your family start inhaling their spores. Why? Uh, severe pulmonary distress, immune responses, and possible death.
Ah, lead, you rat bastard. Lead is about the most poisonous metal that, until recently, was used in just about every building you were likely to set foot in, including your own home. That was largely thanks to lead paint. And it was used in gasoline, too. And lots of mechanical/electronic products. The nifty (meaning awful) thing about lead is that it can enter the human body via ingestion, inhalation, or even just by contact with the skin.
Shockingly, there is a low yet detectable level of arsenic to be found in myriad things around your home – and, for most people, trace amounts of it can be found in your own body. Elevated levels of this chemical can lead to heart problems, blindness, or, in high enough concentrations, even death. Most all major water supplies have some arsenic in them, but many health- and science-minded folks think that new industrial practices, notable hydraulic fracturing used by the oil and gas industry, may greatly increase the amount of arsenic to which nearby residents are exposed.
While its use in common household items is less and less common every year, wildly poisonous mercury is still found relatively frequently in domestic spaces. Lovely that this stuff was used in thermometers for dozens of years, isn’t it? “Say, what’s the worst thing you can do with mercury, ingest it? Right-o, well, here’s your oral thermometer, kids! Don’t bite!”