• Toxic Materials Often Found in Old Houses

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  • Category: Home Remodeling
  • Published Date: November 20, 2021
  • Modified Date: November 20, 2021
  • Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Featured Image Caption: Amiante

Older houses are gorgeous in design and exude a charm beyond compare, but some of the materials that were used in the past have been proven by modern science to be hazardous to our health and well-being. If you currently own an older property, or you are looking to purchase one, you should be aware of some of the toxic materials that you may encounter. Here are just three of the many chemicals that you should look out for:

Flame Retardants

Flame-retardant chemicals that have been used to treat furniture and carpeting, which originated in the mid-twentieth century or prior to that era, have been found in the dust particles that pervade the typical older home.

There are several types of these artificially created materials and they have been linked to thyroid issues, infertility, and learning disorders. And, while being flame-retardant is crucial, there are a plethora of natural materials that are just as resistant to fire as these chemicals and are safer to have in the home.

Lead Paint

Since 1978, lead paint has been deemed illegal by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, due to its toxic properties. Unfortunately, many renovators and painters did not completely remove the lead-based wall covering from older buildings but painted over it instead. That means that paint chips, shavings, and dust can still contain lead and should be avoided.

Lead paint has been proven to damage the lungs, cause headaches, and induce fatigue and nausea. There is even a risk of memory loss in older persons. All homes on the market now are typically subject to a lead inspection, and if lead paint is found, it should be sanded off completely. However, this should be done by a professional with the proper respiratory protection.


In the post-World War II baby boom, suburbia grew quickly, and a wide range of cheaper materials was used to build standard homes. Asbestos was utilized as insulation, and as a component of walls, floors, and window frames, due to its thermal resistance and durable nature.

If your home was built in the 1950s through the 80s, it’s possible you have popcorn ceilings. These bumpy textured ceilings are notorious for having asbestos. If you have these in your house, you may want to consider having the area tested.

The material has been proven to cause cancer known as mesothelioma, as well as asbestosis, a serious disease of the lungs. Broken fibers that are exposed may become airborne, and that is worrisome, though asbestos that is undisturbed is typically benign. If removal is necessary, however, it is best to contact a specialist in the field.


Older homes, having been around for several decades, are likely to have experienced water damage at some point. Some houses even develop small leaks in the walls or basement that go unnoticed for years. However, the effects of unchecked mold can easily have you feeling unwell. Black mold, especially, is known for causing respiratory problems. If you are constantly struggling with allergies, skin issues, or breathing problems, it might be a good idea to have your home checked for mold. This is even more vital if you have pets in your home, as their smaller bodies can handle even lower concentrations of mold spores.

In conclusion, you should never let a home’s age affect your decision to buy it and create your dream house. Just be aware of these common toxic materials to look out for before living there for too long. You’ll want to take these potential dangers seriously to maintain your health and the health of your family, pets, and guests.

Meghan Belnap

By Meghan Belnap
who is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family and residing in Oklahoma.

Member since September, 2019
View all the articles of Meghan Belnap.

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