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Welcome to PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute, where we ask questions -- then we ask the experts to answer them. Join us as physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts share their ideas, inspiration, and analysis about toxic chemicals and environmental health policy.

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Healthy Air at Home

By Brenda Olsen, RN

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. In fact, some EPA studies of exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels.

We all pay great attention to pollution in our skies, but the American Lung Association has some tips to not only help recognize indoor air quality issues but prevent these problems in your home.

One important step is to avoid some of the most common sources of indoor air pollution—like making sure no one smokes inside, keeping sources of humidity (rain, groundwater, humid air) outside, protecting against radon (the leading cause of lung cancer) and ensuring that anything that burns gas is properly vented to the outdoors.

Additionally, it is important to have adequate circulation in key spaces which keeps fresh air coming inside and interior air pollution leaving your home.  Install and run exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom, open windows and use extra exhaust fans when you're working with paints or chemicals indoors and don't idle your car in an attached garage. 

Another important part of protecting yourself and your family from air pollution is recognizing the signs that something in your home could be causing harm.  If you are suffering from health problems that improve when you leave your house but come back when you return, you may have an indoor air pollution problem. Explore if some of the sources mentioned above exist in your home and, if they are there, take steps to eliminate them.

Learn more about indoor and outdoor air pollution, and how to safeguard your family from them, by visiting the American Lung Association’s website at lung.org/healthy-air.

Comments

Nurse Judy said ..

Plug in and spray air "fresheners" are a source of indoor air pollution ,as are scented candles and other products with synthetic fragrance.

April 25, 2014

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