Earth Gauge: Care for Indoor Air

Chilly temperatures keep many of us inside during the winter months more than other times of the year. Just as the air we breathe outside can affect our health, so can the air we breathe inside homes, schools and offices. Poor ventilation, high temperatures and humidity indoors can increase some indoor pollutant levels. And, people who may be exposed to indoor air pollutants for the longest periods of time â?? young children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses â?? are often the most susceptible to health effects.

Viewer Tip: Indoor air pollutants come from a variety of sources, including wood stoves and fireplaces, cleaning products, paints and lacquers, mold and pet dander. You can care for the air inside your home at little or no cost with these simple steps:

*Ventilate to increase the amount of fresh air in your home. When weather permits, open windows and doors to let fresh air in. Use bathroom and kitchen fans that exhaust to the outdoors to ventilate and help remove pollutants from your home.

*Change filters on central heaters and air conditioners regularly â?? these filters trap dust and other pollutants.

*Adjust humidity in your home. Try to keep indoor humidity levels at 30 to 50 percent to reduce the likelihood of mold growth.

*Install a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you and your family of dangerous levels of this colorless, odorless gas that can build up when space heaters, wood stoves, fireplaces, gas stoves and other combustion appliances are improperly vented.

(Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. â??Care for Your Air: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality.â??