Bacteria, molds, viruses, and other biological contaminants continued...
Some viruses can survive on household surfaces, such as counters or floors, or they can get spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. You can help control viruses by:
- Cleaning household surfaces with a disinfectant.
- Having adequate ventilation in your house.
- Having anyone with a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu, cough or sneeze into the bend of the elbow or into a tissue.
Pet dander, pollen,
dust mites, molds, and rat and mouse urine are
allergens that can cause asthma attacks,
allergic rhinitis, and other lung problems. Symptoms
of illness caused by biological contaminants include sneezing, watery eyes,
shortness of breath, lethargy, dizziness, and digestive problems.
Exposure early in
life to indoor allergens such as molds may increase the risk of allergies or asthma.5 Allergies to molds can also make asthma attacks worse
or cause other breathing problems.
Keep your home clean and as free from dust as possible to
help reduce allergens. There are many ways to
control dust and dust mites in your home, such as
washing bedding in hot water to kill dust mites and eliminating furnishings,
such as drapes, that collect dust. Also, there are many steps you can take
animal dander and other pet allergens.
Exhaust fans that vent to the outdoors and are installed in kitchens and
bathrooms can help get rid of moisture that allows microorganisms, including
molds, to grow. When modern building materials get wet, they provide an ideal
place for the growth of molds, which can make asthma attacks worse and
may cause other respiratory symptoms. Ventilating attic and crawl spaces and
keeping humidity levels below 50% can help prevent moisture buildup in building
materials. There are other ways to
control indoor molds, such as preventing leaks,
removing wet materials, storing fireplace wood outside the home, and using a
dehumidifier during humid weather.
Keep humidifiers clean and
refill them daily with fresh water. Frequently clean evaporation trays in air
conditioners, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators. Water-damaged carpets and
building materials can also have molds and bacteria in them. It is difficult to
get rid of bacteria or molds. So, if possible, replace or remove water-damaged
items from your home.
You can also:
- Remove carpets and replace them with
hardwood or tile floor.
- Have sofas with covers that can be removed
- Use blinds instead of drapes, because they collect less
- Have air filters in some rooms, especially in the
For more information, see:
- Allergies: Avoiding Indoor Triggers.
Many of the products you use to clean your home or use
for hobbies and home improvement projects contain potentially hazardous
chemicals. Some can be toxic and in sufficient doses can cause eye and
respiratory problems, headaches, dizziness, visual problems, and memory
impairment. One of the most important ways you can protect yourself is by
following the instructions on the label. When you use cleaning or other products,
be sure to open windows or use an exhaust fan to provide good ventilation.
Never mix household chemicals, such as chlorine bleach and ammonia. Some mixtures can
create toxic fumes that can be fatal.