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Kane health forum emphasizes keeping kids safe at home

Household toxins

For information about household toxins, visit the EPA website,

Updated: November 22, 2012 6:24AM

GENEVA – When water seeps into your home, it causes mold, which in turn causes asthma. It can also lead to structural damage, insects, and any number of further complications.

Your home is a complex and dynamic system, and one complication can easily snowball into more potential hazards if they are not properly addressed, according to Maryann Suero of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We started out with water, and led to all of these potential consequences,” she said.

Suero spoke Thursday at the Caring for Kane Kids health conference at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva. The conference featured several breakout sessions and more than 200 participants focused on improving the health of children.

“Our goal is to really gather the community and learn,” said Theresa Heaton, director of the Health Promotion Division of the Kane County Health Department.

The conference gives the county and region a chance to brainstorm ideas for any number of issues, Heaton said.

“It just gives us a little bit of vision,” she said.

Suero outlined some of the potential health hazards that people should be aware of in their home including mold, radon, mercury and other toxins. These toxins are in nearly everything, down to your electronics and upholstery, which have flame retardants on them.

“We’re exposed to all of these things at the same time,” she said.

Suero said that there are good maintenance principles to keep in mind. First, homes should be well ventilated, with good circulating airflow. People should also make sure that they are controlling moisture, and venting combustion appliances, such as dryers, to the outdoors.

She also discussed some of the issues that can come with lead poisoning. In children, lead poisoning can lead to delayed growth, a lower IQ, headaches, high blood pressure and digestive problems.

Lead can be found in the air, water, soil — and some toys and jewelry. It can also be found in lead paint, which was used in houses before 1978.

“It’s still a huge problem, and we need to fix it,” she said.

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