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Home Sick Home? Indoor Air Quality

“How’s the air at home?” If you’re like most people, your eyebrows raised and you find this to be an odd question. But you might just want to take a little time to learn more about the air quality in your home. Besides, wouldn’t you want to reduce the risk of allergic reactions, chronic bronchitis, nausea, headaches, fatigue and breathing problems, not to mention minimize the chance of slow or sudden toxic gas poisoning?

Visibly, your home may seem immaculate, but there are a number of sly culprits that contribute to indoor air pollution. And in newer, more energy efficient and airtight homes, pollutants are susceptible to becoming trapped inside the home.

According to research, only 37 percent of homeowners have a carbon monoxide detector; one in eleven has a radon detector; and four in ten do not replace air filters every two to three months, as recommended.

What are some of the leading culprits that cause indoor air pollution?

  • Heating systems that use gas or wood can emit carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are both odorless and colorless. Carbon monoxide can be lethal if enough of it is inhaled.
  • Radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer next to cigarette smoking, is also an odorless and colorless gas that can seep into the home through cracks in basement floors, foundations and walls.
  • Air conditioners, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, if not well maintained, can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which could cause allergic reactions.

Some of the recommendations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Lung Association include the following:

  • Test for radon levels inside your home. Its the only way you’ll know.
  • Be sure that the flue is open when using your fireplace, and have the fireplace and chimney inspected annually for blockage or cracks.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home and ensure they work properly.
  • Check your home routinely for trapped moisture, find the cause, and repair as soon as possible.
  • Replace furnace filters regularly, every two to three months.

Learn more about radon and inspecting your fireplace and chimney. For more information on indoor air quality, visit the American lung Association or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.