How’s the Air in There?

By Christina Elston

Keeping winter cold outdoors may keep unhealthful air pollutants indoors. Harmful substances in the air can cause sore throats, aggravate allergies or asthma, and sometimes even be life threatening.

Fortunately, there are several simple, low-cost things families can do to create a better indoor environment, according to Kristy Miller, a spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Some of these tips are very basic,” she says, “but often get overlooked in our everyday lives.”

Is your humidifier putting your family's health at risk?
Dirty humidifiers can cause serious health problems, especially if you have allergy or asthma sufferers in your family.
Find out what you can do to reduce your risk.  

• Make your home a smoke-free zone, and check radon and humidity levels with simple tools from the hardware store.

• Prevent mold from forming by keeping the humidity level in your home below 50 percent. Fix leaky roofing and pipes, and use exhaust fans or open windows when bathing, showering or cooking.

• Reduce dust mites and pet dander by keeping pets off of furniture, changing bed sheets regularly and vacuuming upholstery and carpets weekly. Take your shoes off when coming indoors.

• Deter roaches and rodents by securing your trash cans and taking trash out regularly. Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.

• Prevent carbon monoxide buildup by changing furnace filters regularly, and have furnaces and fireplaces cleaned and checked by professionals.

For more information, visit the EPA indoor air quality Web site at