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.
Have chimneys, flues, and furnaces inspected each year.
more information, see the topic
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Exposure to building materials, products used for home
improvement, and textiles can cause health problems. For example,
particleboard, insulation, carpet adhesives, and other household products emit
formaldehyde, which can cause nausea, respiratory problems, dry or inflamed
skin, and eye irritation. Newly built homes and the confined spaces of mobile
homes can be a particular problem. Using environmentally safe products—such as
paint that contains a low level of or no
volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—can reduce the
chemical load on your body.
Sick building syndrome and building-related asthma
Experts coined the term "sick building syndrome" to
describe acute symptoms that occur only during time spent in a particular
building and that cannot be explained by any specific illness or cause.
Symptoms include headache, dry cough, dry or itchy skin, dizziness, nausea,
difficulty concentrating, fatigue, sensitivity to odors, and irritation of the
eyes, nose, or throat. Typically the symptoms improve after you leave the
Poor ventilation that restricts fresh air flow inside
can be a cause of sick building syndrome. Carpet, adhesives, upholstery,
manufactured wood, pesticides, and cleaning fluids can give off
volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including
formaldehyde. High concentrations of VOCs can cause cancer. Unvented gas and
kerosene space heaters, woodstoves, fireplaces, and gas stoves can produce
carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Outdoor sources of
chemicals can also cause sick building syndrome. Pollutants from cars and
trucks and exhaust from plumbing vents and building machinery can enter a
building through vents.
Building-related asthma is
the term used when symptoms of a diagnosed illness can be linked directly to
airborne contaminants within a building. Symptoms include cough, chest
tightness, and wheezing. Leaving the building may not immediately improve the