Clearing the air: Indoor pollution takes breath away

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2002

How would you know if the air inside your home is unhealthy?

Answering these question could help you or family members.

When you are in your home, do you cough or sneeze frequently? Are your eyes, nose and throat often irritated? When do your symptoms appears such as during an activity or in a certain location of your home? Do your symptoms go away when you go outside or open a window?

The Lung Association cautions," if you find that ventilating or leaving your home helps relieve your symptoms, it's likely the symptoms are triggered by something in your home.

What can cause indoor air pollution? Take a critical look through your house and garage for these sources:

Combustion pollutants from appliances that burn fuel

Household cleaning products that contain potentially harmful chemicals

Personal care products that contain toxic chemicals

Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, cigars and pipes

Carpets, upholstery, drapery fabrics, particle board and plywood paneling can contain hidden sources of indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde

Biological pollutants such as animal dander, mold, bacteria, viruses, dust mites and pollen

Radon gas, which can seep in through cracks and other openings in the foundation

Asbestos (if flaking or damaged)

Paints, hobby supplies, cleaning agents and lawn and garden products during use or when stored improperly

Related to indoor air quality is a resource that is available for free check out from our office.

The American Lung Association gave me a copy of "A is for Asthma." This is a wonderful video starring Sesame Street characters Elmo, Dani and Rosita. This video teaches youngsters and adults all about asthma. "A is for Asthma" is accompanied by a Caregivers Guide that provides activities to reinforce the information in the video. Both the video and the guide are in Spanish and English.

The American Lung Association gave this resource to me with the understanding it wouldn't just set in my office collecting dust. Please, if you work with young children and are looking for activities, check out "A is for Asthma."

According to the American Lung Association, "Asthma affects one in every 14 children, so everyone -- children and adults -- needs to be aware of it."

We have lots of Extension information related to healthy indoor air quality. Stop by and see for yourself.

Linda Athons is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension Office. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Development programs. The Kenai Peninsula District Extension Office is at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A, Soldotna, AK. The phone number is 262-5824 or toll-free at (800) 478-5824.

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