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    10 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Safer and Healthier


    2. Kick nicotine addiction.

    If you're still a smoker, it's time to kick it.

    An estimated 40% of America's children are exposed to secondhand smoke at home -- and it's the biggest trigger of asthma in those children, says Philip Landrigan, MD, director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

    And it’s an expensive habit. "You can save a lot of money if you're not smoking, not to speak of future health costs for you and your family," he tells WebMD.

    A doctor, nurse, or mental health professional can help you tailor an approach to quitting smoking that best suits your needs. Set a quit date and stick to it.

    3. Get your home tested.

    Both lead paint and radon are serious hazards you can't afford to ignore. Lead poisoning is known to cause brain damage in a developing fetus and in young children if not treated. Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas.

    The main source of lead is old paint and dust that forms when paint chips and erodes, Landrigan explains. Lead paint can be a problem in any home built before 1978, when lead paint was banned.

    "In tough economic times, we have to make wise decisions with our money -- and a lead test is one of those," says Landrigan. "Lead poisoning is tragic, and it happens too often. We're not just talking about the big cities. Older homes everywhere may have lead paint."

    • Check with your local health department about lead paint testing. A lab test of a paint chip runs from $20 to $50 per sample. You can also hire a certified professional to test your home, which will cost more.
    • The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a safety alert on its web site about lead-based paint testing. It offers guidelines on reducing your exposure -- like covering walls with gypsum wallboard.

    Colorless and odorless, radon gas comes from the natural breakdown of the soil and rock underneath your home. Any home can have a radon gas problem -- whether it's old or new, well-sealed or drafty, whether it has a basement or not.

    Breathing air containing radon gas can cause lung cancer. In fact, it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

    • You can buy a $20 home radon test kit at most hardware and home stores.
    • For more information, check the EPA's web site for "A Citizen's Guide to Radon."
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