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Improving Indoor Air Quality In Your Home!


It is important to pay attention to the quality of the air in your home; most people spend more than 50% of their time indoors.

Mold, lead or hazardous household products can cause severe health problems. It is up to homeowners to take whatever action is necessary to protect their families. Indoor air pollutants come not only from what people have in their homes but also what they do there.

There are simple steps you can take to find out the causes of poor indoor air quality and what to do about them.

•Mold, grows where there are wet or damp surfaces. You can spot it easily when it grows out in the open, but often it is hidden behind walls or under the carpet. Either way, the telltale signs are the same: musty smells, watery eyes, runny noses, sneezing, itching, wheezing, headaches and fatigue.

To protect against mold, be sure you repair leaking roofs, walls, doors and windows right away. Water is insidious, and can cause problems if left to stand. If your carpet remains wet for more than a couple of days, for example, it is best to toss it.

Additionally, make sure the humidity in your home is not too high. If the moisture content in the air is more than 50%, turn off your humidifier and/or move your houseplants outside. Always make sure to run your bathroom fan when bathing or showering, and run your kitchen exhaust fan when cooking.

• Carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that can make you sick or even kill you because you can’t see, smell or feel it. Signs of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing. Many people confuse it with the flu.

To protect your house and family, install carbon monoxide alarms near each sleeping area and on each floor.

Also, don’t use charcoal grills or run any electric generator inside your house, garage or basement, even for a short time. They produce so much carbon monoxide that even opening the windows and doors will not give you enough fresh air. Also, never warm a vehicle while it sits inside the garage, even with the garage doors open. Start lawnmowers and other yard equipment outside.

• Lead poisoning poses a serious health risk for children. Lead is not used as much in paint, pipes and other materials as it once was, houses built before 1978 are the most problematic.

If you are planning to remodel your older home, or have just finished a renovation, beware of dust or paint chips. Otherwise, look for cracking, chipping or flaking paint, or doors or window frames where paint is being rubbed away.

Also check for lead pipes, which are a dull gray in color and scratch easily with a key or penny, or pipes that are joined with lead solder. Water that flows through them can contain lead.

Your state or local health department can tell you how to check for lead at little or no cost, and most hardware stores carry low-cost lead testing kits. But if you find lead, don’t try to remove it yourself. Getting rid of lead the wrong way can make the problem worse, so find a certified contractor for the job.

•When it comes to hazardous household products, buy only what you need, and read and follow the directions. Properly dispose of what you don’t use, or give the leftovers to someone who can use it. Never burn or dump leftover containers.

Take a moment to look at these brochures for additional information:  EPA Mold Guide. Versión en español: EPA Mold Guide Sp

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