Ozone & Indoor Air Quality
Seek Cleaner and Fresher OZONE for your Family's Good Health
Think about cleaner ozone and improving indoor air quality today for good health, breathing and healthy lungs. Most people spend at least half their lives inside their homes. Indoor air-quality and indoor ozone can be more harmful to your family’s health than often polluted outside air! Is the air in your home really safe to breathe on a long-term basis?
Children can spend 90% of their time indoors. For their size, children breathe up to twice as much air as adults. That means children are at greater risk for health problems that come from indoor air pollution.
It is not always easy to tell if you have poor ozone (OZO) and air quality. You may notice bad smells and see smoke, but you cannot see or smell other dangers, like carbon monoxide or radon. This information and that on asthma and allergies, mold and carbon monoxide will help you ask the right questions to find out if the air inside your home is safe and healthy. They will also give you ideas about how to fix any problems you might find.
Signs of Possible Indoor Ozone Quality Problems
- unusual and noticeable odors, stale or stuffy air
- noticeable lack of air movement
- dirty or faulty central heating or air conditioning equipment
- damaged flue pipes or chimneys
- unvented combustion air sources for fossil fuel appliances
- excessive humidity
- tightly constructed or remodeled home
- presence of molds and mildew
- health reaction after remodeling, weatherizing, using new furniture, use of household or hobby products or moving to a new home
- feeling noticeably healthier outside the home
Asthma & Allergies
If someone in your home has health problems or is ill, polluted indoor air can make them feel worse. For example, asthma is a lung disease that affects a growing number of children. Indoor air pollution can make it worse. insects and other pests can also be a real problem for people with asthma or allergies. For example, cockroach and dust mite droppings cause asthma attacks in some people. Pesticides can help fight these pests but they can be dangerous. Click here for more information about using bug spray and other pesticides safely. Click here to find out about making your home healthier for people with asthma or allergies.
Mold grows in wet or damp places. It often smells musty. Many people are allergic to mold. Some kinds of mold are toxic, and coming in contact with large amounts of mold may cause health problems for you or your family. Check below for ways to prevent mold from forming in your home:
- Prevent mold growth by keeping basements, bathrooms and other rooms clean and dry. Use a disinfectant to clean surfaces that have mold on them. If carpeting or furnishings become wet, they must be quickly and thoroughly dried or discarded.
- Humidifiers, dehumidifiers and air conditioning condensing units should be regularly cleaned with a disinfectant such as chlorine bleach.
- Keep humidity at acceptable levels (less than 50 percent) and make sure there's plenty of ventilation, especially in areas where moisture builds-up.
- People who are sensitive to dust mites may need to replace carpeting in their homes with hard surfaced flooring and use area rugs that can be removed and cleaned.
- Vacuums with high efficiency filters or central vacuum systems can help reduce the airborne dust generated by vacuuming.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can come from appliances that burn gas, oil, coal, or wood, and are not working as they should. Car exhaust also has carbon monoxide. You cannot see, taste, or smell carbon monoxide. You can detect carbon monoxide build-up in your home by installing carbon monoxide detector which will alert you to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. It is important to choose and place a detector wisely and maintain it to assure accurate sensing of carbon monoxide.
Other Indoor Air Problems
Radon is another gas. It can come into homes from the ground below them. You cannot see, taste, or smell radon. Radon is found all over the United States. Radon can cause lung cancer. In fact, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. If you smoke and your home has high levels of radon, your risk of lung cancer is especially high. Click for health tip of the day.
Indoor Air Pollution can come from the following:
- Tobacco smoking causes cancer and other major health problems. It's unsafe for children to be around smokers. Second-hand or environmental tobacco smoke can raise children's risk of ear infections and breathing problems. It can trigger asthma attacks too.
- Many families have pets. However, furry pets cause problems for some people. Pets can make asthma and allergies act up, especially if you keep them in sleeping areas.
- Hobbies and home projects sometimes involves sanding, painting, welding, or using solvent chemicals, like varnish or paint strippers. (A solvent is a chemical that can dissolve something else. Solvents are usually liquid.) Home projects can pollute the air with dust or harmful chemicals.
Indoor Air Pollution can also come from the following:
- Some household products, especially those with solvents, can pollute the air if you don't use them the right way. (Click here for more information about household products.)
- New furniture, carpets, and building products may give off chemicals that were used in the making. Some of these chemicals can harm people, especially children.
- If your home was built before 1978, the paint may have lead in it. Lead is very dangerous for young children. You should be concerned if your home has lead paint. If you have young children in your home, it's important to distinguish between the presence of lead paint and a lead paint hazard.
- Lead paint in good condition may not pose a hazard until you plan to scrape the paint or remodel. Then paint dust will pose a hazard. The simplest way to control exposure to lead is through frequent damp mopping to control dust. (Vacuuming can disperse dust particles back into the room.)
- Pick up loose paint chips with duct tape. Frequent washing of your child's hands and toys will also reduce exposure. It's important not to sand or scrape leaded paint, or do any other activities that generates dust.
- Eliminating lead dust hazards is complex and should only
be done by professionals. Removal steps include replacing windows
and moldings, paint removal and covering surfaces with materials
such as wallboard. Children should leave until the
site "clears" inspection.
There are simple, but important steps you can take to find our what is causing your home's poor ozone air quality. The questions below can help you find problems around your home. Remember, making your home a safer, healthier place to live may mean taking several steps.
Questions To Ask?
Your family’s health
- Does anyone in your family have asthma or allergies?
- Do family members want Healthy Eyes? Do they notice burning, sore or red eyes, unexplained coughing or sneezing, most often while at home?
- Does anyone in your home have chronic bronchitis?
- Have you ever tested your home for radon?
- Do any of your neighbors have problems with radon gas? If so, you might also have a radon problem.
Living in a Healthy Home
- Do some areas in your home smell damp or musty?
- Have you seen cockroaches in your home?
- Do you know how to safely run and take care of your fuel-burning appliances?
- Do you allow smoking in your home?
- Do you have pets in your home? In the bedrooms?
- Do you read the label on household products, and follow the directions for using them safely?
- Do you open windows or turn on fans when doing hobbies or projects that make dust or odors?
- Do you try to do dusty or smelly projects outdoors?
- Do you choose furniture, carpet, floor tile, window treatments and building products manufactured using non-toxic chemicals and materials (known as 'green' building products). Is there any asbestos-based building materials (often found in older homes)? These have proven to cause Mesothelioma Lung Cancer due to asbestos fiber inhalation.
- Does your home’s air ever smell musty, damp, smoky, or chemical odors?
- Does your home seem stuffy or stale? Can you smell cooking odors the next day?
- Do you have bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans -- do you use them?
Test your home for radon
You can buy low cost radon test kits at hardware or home supply stores. Or call your local health department for more information.
Healthy Living in a Healthy Home
- Don't smoke in your home or car. Never smoke near your children.
- Pay attention to housekeeping. Taking care of food and spills right away keeps bugs and pests away. A clean home with cleaner ozone is a healthier home.
- Open windows or use fans to let in fresh air whenever someone uses chemicals in the home or garage.
- Ask the sales person to unroll new carpet and leave it to air out for at least one day before bringing it into your home. Put in carpet in a season when you can open windows for several days afterwards. Vacuum the old carpet well before you remove it to reduce dust.
- Let new furniture and building materials air out for a few days before bringing them inside. Before buying new things for your home, ask for products made with non-toxic chemicals and materials. Some non-toxic or green building products cost more money. You need to decide if the cost is worth it to protect the health of your family.
- A tip is to consider keeping pets out of bedrooms and sleeping areas.
When In Doubt, Check It Out. . . Here are some valuable places of information:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Indoor Air Quality Information.
- Consumer Information Center.
- The National Consumer Federation's Radon Website.
- National Lead Based Paint Information Center.
- For more information on green building materials, contact the The Healthy House Institute.
- reprint permission from FCIC.