Control Indoor Air Quality: Remove Air Pollutants

Good news: You can control the quality of the air you breathe in your home.

| July/August 2006

  • Olympic offers low-VOC paints

Lingering, long-lasting health issues—even mild ones—might not be something you should dismiss or just try to live with. If you have a cold that just doesn’t seem to go away, allergies that act up when you get home, or frequent headaches and fatigue, you may be suffering from the effects of indoor air pollution that result from “sick building syndrome.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), people spend as much as 90 percent of their time inside—and health risks from air pollution may be even greater indoors than out.

Paints and lacquers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, heaters and even furniture and carpet can pollute the air in your home. Possible health effects of poor indoor air quality range from an annoying stuffy nose to lung cancer. There’s good news, though: Unlike outdoor pollution, indoor pollution is something you can control. With some simple precautions, you can significantly reduce, or even eliminate, sources of indoor air pollution in your home.

Invisible Toxins, Uninvited Guests and VOCs 

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that’s released when uranium in the soil or rock beneath your home naturally breaks down. Radon enters the home through dirt floors, cracks in concrete walls and floors, floor drains and sumps. The EPA estimates that radon causes about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. Testing your home is easy and inexpensive. Kits are available at your local hardware store. If testing reveals a radon problem in your home, hire a trained contractor who will explore your mitigation options.

For more information and to get a $9.95 radon test kit coupon, go to the National Safety Council site.

Carbon Monoxide is invisible, odorless and potentially fatal at high concentrations. At lower concentrations, the gas can cause impaired vision and coordination, headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea and flu-like symptoms that clear up after you leave the house. To prevent carbon monoxide from polluting your home, keep furnaces, water heaters and gas ranges in good working order with annual professional checkups. Install a carbon-monoxide detector near bedrooms. Never leave a car or lawn mower running in an attached garage or shed.

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