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Four Surprising Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

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Jessica
01.20.12

Smog. Ozone. Carbon Monoxide. These are just a few of the dangerous things we breathe in every time we step outside. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air in your home is two to five times more polluted then the air outdoors! The good news is, there’s something you can do about it.

There are many obvious sources of indoor air pollution such as radon, second-hand smoke and carbon monoxide. But, did you know your kitchen stove could be contributing to the pollution in your home? Here are four lesser-known sources of indoor air problems and how to fix them:

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers release mega-doses of ozone into your home, and air purifier companies claim this “shock treatment” kills mold and bacteria. In reality, ozone is the chief component of smog, and can scar lung tissue, trigger asthma attacks, and cause coughing fits.  The EPA is attempting to prevent outdoor smog, so why would you bring it indoors? The American Lung Association is taking action, formally advising people against buying any air “purifier” that produces ozone.

Paint

Even though it’s been 30 years since lead paint was banned in the United States, it’s still frequently found in older homes. Lead based paint is dangerous if ingested, and has been linked to nervous system damage in children, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and slow growth. If you have a home built before 1978, call a professional to determine if you have lead based paint. Look up certified inspectors or certified risk assessors in your area. They are common, and can typically be found in a quick Google search or in your Yellow Pages.

Lead paint isn’t the only type of paint that can damage your air quality. Surprisingly, new paints release volatile organic compounds (VOC) that have a range of health effects including cancer, liver damage and kidney damage. Next time you paint, choose a low-VOC or no-VOC paint.

The Kitchen Stove

According to the American Lung Association, the simple act of cooking on a stove can introduce unsafe levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air, which increases the risk of asthma attacks and other respiratory illness.  Also, the steam released from boiling water can promote unwanted mold growth. To prevent danger, properly ventilate your stove so the exhaust is released to the outdoors. Learn more by reading our to-do: Clean and Degrease Your Circulating Vent Hood.

Cleaning Products

Cleaning products contain powerful and toxic solvents, antibiotic pesticides and other dangerous chemicals. Even more terrifying, is the possibility of creating chlorine gas by accidently cleaning a surface with both an acid-based cleaner and a chlorine-based cleaner.  Instead of using over-the-counter cleaners, opt instead for vinegar or baking soda. They will do just as good a job without any of the risks. To learn more about cleaning with vinegar, read Six Clever Ways To Clean With Vinegar.

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