Top Ten Tips to Turn a Hazardous Home into a Healthy Haven.
According to the EPA, indoor air quality is one of the top environmental health hazards facing the U.S. today. The potential effects of dust, dander, mold spores, pollen, and viruses are well-known (and icky enough), but what about CO, radon, VOCs and formaldehyde? These invisible invaders may very well be lurking, uninvited and undetected, in your home right now. In fact, the problem is heightened in winter when doors and windows are shut tight. But don’t worry—take a deep breath, relax and follow our ten simple and inexpensive ways to detect and eliminate these potential killers.
- Quit smoking. No surprise here; it’s the leading cause of lung cancer. Exposure to secondhand smoke can have serious consequences for adult non-smokers and children in the household too, including asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections.
- Use low- or zero-VOC paint to reduce odors, fumes and cancer-causing agents.
- Maintain your HVAC system by replacing dirty filters with the highest-quality filters you can afford and having your air ducts inspected and cleaned as needed.
- Consider purchasing a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air purifier and/or a HEPA vacuum cleaner. HEPA filters are the best you can get and remove ultrafine particles that others miss.
- Burn real wood rather than pressed wood products (which may contain formaldehyde) in fireplaces and stoves.
- Check for radon, a colorless, odorless naturally occurring radioactive gas. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and No. 1 cause among non-smokers. About one in every 15 homes has a level that needs to be reduced. Buy a test kit for less than $20 at home improvement and hardware stores.
- Test smoke alarms monthly and replace alkaline batteries at least once a year. Every floor of your home, every bedroom, and every hallway should have an alarm. Surprisingly, they don’t last forever, so replace after 10 years.
- Purchase inexpensive carbon monoxide detectors ($20-$40) and put in the hallway near every separate sleeping area. These should be replaced every 10 years; you’ll find the replacement date listed on the product.
- Reduce asthma triggers such as pet hair, carpet, smoke, etc.
- Let your house breathe by venting bathrooms, dryers and attics to prevent mold.
Knowing your family is safe and secure should have you breathing a sigh of relief. But if someone in your home is suddenly short of breath, unable to take a deep breath, or gasping for air, it’s almost always a medical emergency. Other symptoms of breathing difficulties include confusion, dizziness, weakness and sleepiness. If any of these occur, call 911 or head to the nearest ER right away.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.