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The Unwelcome House Guest: Air Pollution

Ben Franklin once said: "House guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." One house guest that really stinks is air pollution. You might be surprised to learn that the air in your home-sweet-home may not be so sweet.

If you missed our blog on indoor air pollutants and what they can do to your health , we'll wait while you catch up.

Indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air. But how can you find out if your indoor air is unhealthy? Some warning signs that your air might be riskier than you think include: Leaks or standing water, Pesticide use, Visible mold or mildew, Recent painting or remodeling and an Attached garage where vehicles are stored.

Unlike those fish Ben talked about, some of the most serious threats have no odor and are invisible, like radon gas. Breathing radon gas can cause lung cancer - leading to 21,000 deaths each year - and 1 in 15 homes may be at risk for dangerous levels of radon. The good news is there are tests available to detect radon and mitigation systems available to reduce the risk. So, one important tip is to test your home for radon. Here are some more tips to help.

Eliminating sources of pollution in your home can be as simple as keeping the humidity below 50 percent. This can help control mold, which can be a powerful allergen and asthma trigger. You can also declare your home a "smokefree zone." If you smoke or live with a smoker, we have tools that can help smokers quit.  If you live in an apartment or condominium—no problem! We can help you learn about policies for smokefree multi-unit housing.

These tips can help you reduce other pollutants. And remember, just like your lungs, your home needs to breathe! Proper ventilation makes sure that fresh air comes in and dirty air goes out. When not enough air circulates, pollution builds up indoors.
Are you building a new home or remodeling? Paint, adhesives, carpeting and more can release toxins into your air. Look for products with low VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. VOCs are gases that are emitted into the air from products or processes, like painting or burning wood or other fuel. Learn ways to build or remodel that help keep healthy air in your home. Along the way, you'll learn some valuable tips for saving energy!

Healthy Air Anywhere

Now that you've learned about keeping you air at home healthy, you might want to do the same at work or at school.  Each situation is unique and requires a different strategy. No worries! We're here to help with tools and tips to help you breathe easier no matter where you are.

A lot goes into keeping our indoor air clean and healthy. The American Lung Association works for healthy air and healthy lungs every day. But we can't do it without your help! Join us and we can all breathe healthy, indoors and out.

Related Topics: Healthy Air, Health & Wellness,

  • Janice Nolen
    Assistant Vice President, National Policy
    American Lung Association
    Janice Nolen is the American Lung Association's Assistant Vice President of National Policy.
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