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Tips for Reducing Indoor Pollutants in Your Home

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Exposure to indoor air pollutants can cause respiratory diseases, including asthma and lung cancer. Pollutants include smoke, pet dander, radon, mold, cleaning products, and other chemicals. You can create a healthier home by following the tips below.

Reduce allergens

  • Groom pets often to reduce dander. Don't allow them to sleep in the bedroom with anyone who has asthma or allergies. If possible, keep them off carpets and furniture.
  • Choose window coverings that are easy to clean, such as wood shades or blinds. Drapes are magnets for dust.
  • Check houseplants for mold. Repot or move them outside if the soil contains mold.
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke in your home.
  • Eliminate carpeting and replace it with wood or tile flooring, if possible.
  • If the humidity level is more than 50% inside your house, dust mites and molds can be a problem. To control dust mites, get allergen-resistant covers for bedding. Wash sheets and blankets in hot water.
  • Use high-efficiency bags in your vacuum cleaner or install a central vacuum system in your home.
  • Don't store firewood indoors. Drying green firewood can contain mold spores.
  • Keep trees and shrubs at least 3 ft (0.9 m) away from your house. Roots can provide an easy path for water into your basement or crawl space.
  • Keep bathrooms, kitchen, and basement—places where allergens are likely to grow—clean and dry.

Control moisture

  • Fix leaks and other sources of water intrusion, and remove water-damaged materials.
  • Make sure your clothes dryer vents to the outside.
  • Install and keep clean hood exhaust fans in your kitchen. Make sure bathroom vents exhaust air outdoors and not into basements, crawl spaces, or inside the house.
  • Make sure that exhaust fans don't draw too much air out, creating a negative-pressure situation in which the pressure inside the house is lower than outside. Negative pressure can reverse the flow of combustion gases from furnaces, gas stoves, and water heaters, and draw water vapor and dangerous carbon monoxide or nitrogen dioxide into your home.
  • Caulk the interior and exterior of your home, especially around windows and vents.
  • If you're building a new home, install a waterproofing system that keeps moisture away from your foundation.
  • Keep gutters and drains clean.
  • Remove any water-damaged carpet. Replace it, if possible, with wood or tile flooring.

Avoid heating problems

  • Make sure fuel-burning furnaces, hot water heaters, and gas ranges are checked every year to ensure air intake and exhaust systems are adequate. It is best to have your water heater and furnace outside of your home—for example, in your garage.
  • Do not use kerosene space heaters or unvented gas heaters as your primary source of heat.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. You may not notice it until you have health problems. If you see orange or sputtering flames in your gas furnace or stove, it may mean that you have a problem with carbon monoxide. Call a technician immediately.
  • Make sure wood stoves and fireplaces have tight-fitting doors. Check flues and chimneys for cracks that could allow fumes into your house.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 19, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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