Ways to live healthier
- When refueling your lawnmower, do so outside, and don't miss the opening or interrupt the flow of fuel into the tank. The gas you spill evaporates and adds to pollution. Purchase a "leakless nozzle," which prevents gas from pouring until the nozzle is inserted into the tank, stops the flow automatically when the tank becomes full and seals the container when the nozzle is removed from the tank.
- Keep recyclables in a covered area outdoors. They can be sources of toxic vapors, unpleasant odors and bacteria.
- Hang dry-cleaned items outdoors to air-out cleaning solvents before bringing them inside.
- Store cleaning solvents, pesticides and other volatile chemicals outside living areas, such as garage, shed or separated structure. And be sure they-re out of a child's reach.
- Repair cracks in your basement floor, which can be sources of both moisture and radon. Clean moldy areas with a diluted solution of household bleach and water. And be sure to test your home for radon.
- Change your air filter regularly. Under normal conditions, your filter should be replaced every three months. Routinely clean coils and drain the pans of your air conditioner(s).
- Replacing carpet? Consider an alternative. Dirt embedded in carpet provides food for dust mites, which are known to cause respiratory problems. Hard smooth flooring materials, such as wood, vinyl, ceramic tile and painted cement are much easier to keep clean.
- Furnishings such as upholstery, shower curtains and draperies can emit significant amounts of toxic gases, especially when new. Specify non-toxic products when ordering such materials. Try to use natural fabrics instead of synthetics.
- If some parts of your home seem to be too humid, check the relative humidity with a sling psychrometer. Winter readings of over 40% can spell trouble. The ideal indoor relative humidity for human comfort is about 50%, but drier air may be needed to prevent condensation on windows.
- Older homes may have furnace and pipes covered with asbestos containing insulating materials. Safe removal is difficult and expensive. If possible, cover and seal these surfaces to prevent toxic fiber dust from being released.
- To reduce your exposure to dust mites, which can often cause allergic reactions, wash all bed linens weekly in hot water of at least 130◦F. That means blankets, too.
- Like bedding, carpet is a source for dust mites. Use carpeting only where necessary. If you require carpeting, choose only those with low pile. Otherwise, wood, vinyl or ceramic tile are other floor covering options.
- If your house uses a forced air heating system, consider purchasing an upgraded furnace filter. Although more expensive, it can provide significant improvement in home air quality.
Our thanks to the American Lung Association® Health House® Project.