Indoor air hazards you should know about

If you’re like most Americans, you spend much of your time indoors. Have you ever stopped to think about whether the air you’re breathing at home is healthy? When you’re at home do you frequently have headaches or feel nauseous or tired? Do you feel better when you leave the house? If you have these symptoms, your home’s air quality may be the problem.

Moisture and biological (like molds, mildew and dust mites).
Sources include excessive humidity levels, poorly-maintained humidifiers and air-conditioners, inadequate ventilation and animal dander.

Combustion products including carbon monoxide.
Sources include unvented fossil-fuel space heaters, unvented gas stoves and ovens, and “backdrafting” from furnaces and water heaters.

Sources include durable press drapes and other textiles, particle-board products such as cabinets and furniture framing, and adhesives.

Radon. This is a radioactive gas from soil and rock beneath and around the foundation, ground water wells and some building materials.

Household products and furnishings. These include volatile organic compounds from paints, solvents, air fresheners, hobby supplies, dry cleaned clothing, aerosol sprays, adhesives and fabric additives used in carpeting and furniture.

Asbestos. Most homes more than 20 years old are likely to have asbestos. Sources include deteriorating, damaged or disturbed pipe insulation, fireproofing or acoustical material and floor tiles.

Lead. Sources include lead-based paint dust from removing paint by sanding, scraping and burning.

Particulates. Sources include particles from fireplaces, woodstoves, kerosene heaters, unvented gas space heaters, tobacco smoke, dust and pollen.

Environmental tobacco smoke. A mixture of smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar, and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers.

Remodeling byproducts. Remodeling can provide the disturbance that releases such materials as asbestos, lead, formaldehyde and other hazardous materials.