Indoor air pollution
Indoor air pollution can
affect you at home, work, or even places you visit. It is a common source of
respiratory diseases, including
asthma, allergies, and lung cancer. It can be worse in
winter, when windows are shut tight and less fresh air can circulate.
tips for reducing indoor air pollution, such as not allowing anyone to smoke
in your home.
One of the most common and toxic indoor air pollutants is
cigarette smoke. Experts believe about 90% of lung cancers
are caused by cigarette smoke.1Smoking, or even
secondhand smoke, increases your risk of
heart attack and
Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer. If you are a
nonsmoker and household members or coworkers will not stop smoking around you,
ask that they smoke only in well-ventilated or isolated areas. Never smoke
around children or allow them to be exposed to cigarette smoke, especially if
they have asthma or allergies.
Exposure to cigarette
smoke causes wheezing, coughing, and extra mucus (phlegm) in many children.
Secondhand smoke also can cause fluid to build up in the inner ear, which can
ear infections. Lower respiratory infections, such as
bronchitis, are also risks. Sometimes these types of
infections become serious enough to require a hospital stay, especially when
they develop in babies and young children.2
Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).3
Cigarette smoke may cause asthma in children.3 Also, children with
asthma who are exposed to cigarette smoke have more attacks and more severe
symptoms than other children with asthma.3
See information on the
increased impact of environmental illnesses on children. For example, in recent years, the number of children with
asthma has more than doubled, and environmental causes are suspected.
Woodstoves and gas ranges
Woodstoves that are not properly maintained and vented
can give off tiny particles (particulates) and gases, including
carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and
hydrocarbons. Children in homes heated with woodstoves are at increased risk
for respiratory problems. Gas ranges, particularly when they are not
well-vented or when they are used as a source of heat, may produce nitrogen
dioxide, which can cause respiratory problems. Consider changing to an electric
If your gas stove has a persistent yellow flame, it may be
improperly adjusted. Ask your gas company to adjust the burners so the flame
tips are blue. If you're planning to buy a new gas range or stove, consider one
that does not use a pilot light.
If you use a woodstove, make sure
the stove doors fit tightly. Burn only aged or cured wood that is completely dry.
Never burn pressure-treated wood because it is treated with chemicals.