How to Fight Indoor Air Pollution

How to Fight Indoor Air Pollution

by Paul M.J. Suckecli for eHow

Tobacco smoke is one indoor pollutant that’s easy to reduce. Most smokers today have to courtesy to ask if you mind them smoking. Stand up for your rights and say that you do.Second-hand tobacco smoke holds a raft of noxious compounds from carbon monoxide to formaldehyde.Second-hand smoke can have a major impact on fetal development and can lead to heart disease and even lung cancer in non-smokers.If you are a smoker, smoke outside or at the very least near an open window. I write this as a former pack and half a day smoker: You have the right to kill yourself, but don’t inflict that fate on others.

Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer in the United States behind tobacco smoke. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is generated by radioactive breakdown of radium in the soil. It can be detected with a radon detection kit that is left at the lowest level of your home and sent to a lab for results. Mitigation would consist of sealing cracks and holes in the foundation and venting radon from the basement.

Carbon Monoxide is colorless, odorless and is a common combustion product. It can produce dizziness, headaches, nausea and coughing, effects that are often misdiagnosed as the flu. If the blood concentration gets high enough, it will kill. CO can be readily produced by stoves, gas clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces, space heaters and fire places. Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide and particulate matter are other potential indoor pollutants caused by combustion. The can irritate the eyes and respiratory tract.It’s a good idea to vent combustion appliances and to have them inspected regularly by professionals. Added protection would be offered by installing a carbon monoxide detector meeting the standards of Underwriters Laboratory, UL.

Molds, mites and animal dander are common biological pollutants. They can produce fever, malaise and cough, through direct infection and by causing allergic reactions. Bed bugs are becoming a major problem in urban areas like New York and Los Angeles. To fight these biological pollutants, keep the humidity in the home low, by using dehumidifiers. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, venting clothes dryers to the outside. Vacuum clean rugs frequently. Change and clean bedding often. Fix any leaks or seepage as soon as you find them to combat mold.

Volatile Organic Compounds include formaldehyde, pesticides, solvents and cleaning agents. In fact, some paint thinners can actually generate carbon monoxide. VOC’s can produce headache, fatigue dizziness and respiratory irritation. The sources might surprise you and include particle board and plywood for formaldehyde, pesticides, rug and oven cleaners paints and lacquers, even personal items such as scents and hair spray. The key to fight VOC pollution is to use them on in a well ventilated environment. If you are buying new furniture or cabinets, you can get pieces manufactured today that are formaldehyde free.
Asbestos is another carcinogen that used to be a common component of home insulation and was frequently used for fire proofing around furnaces and fireplaces. Heavy exposure can cause mesothelioma or lung cancer. Asbestos removal is not always the best solution, because stripping out old insulation could actually release more airborne particles. The EPA recommends monitoring the condition of old insulation in what it describes as in place management.

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