breathing outside
Image by Image byAlfonso Cerezo

People take an average of 21,600 breaths per day

National Indoor Air Quality Month - October 2019

October is National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month. According to the American Lung Association, people take an average of 21,600 breaths per day. With 80% of our time spent indoors, the quality of the air we breathe is very important. A variety of harmful containments including carbon monoxide, radon, mildew, molds, secondhand smoke, allergens, and chemicals can mix together in homes creating polluted air that can lead to increased asthma rates and exacerbate respiratory conditions.

Every home should have a carbon monoxide detector placed near the furnace, stove, and oven as well as outside sleeping areas. These detectors provide protection from carbon monoxide poisoning. Exposure to radon over time can increase your chance of getting lung cancer, especially if you smoke. Get your home tested to determine its levels and if remedial action is needed, make sure it’s properly ventilated to reduce the amount of radon in your home. Change filters on forced air furnaces and air conditioners according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

If you’re a smoker, quit or only smoke outside. Cigarette smoke lingers on clothing and hands; if you have small children wash your hands or change your clothes before holding them. Dust mites can cause problems for people with lung disease or asthma so use dust mite covers on mattresses and pillows. HEPA vacuums can help keep allergens in check.

Many basements have mold and mildew problems due to too much moisture. Locate the source, fix it then use a dehumidifier to keep any future excess moisture under control. Mold spores and ragweed can come into your home through open windows, ventilation systems, and on shoes and clothes. Keep windows shut when the pollen count is high and remove footwear and outerwear when you come in from outside.

Clean all furniture and floors regularly using non-toxic, unscented household cleaning products – more often if you have pets. Store chemicals and/or harmful cleaning products in a detached garage, shed or outbuilding. When using these products, wear protective masks and gloves and follow manufacturer’s recommendations for proper disposal.

Learn more about how you can improve your home’s indoor air quality at the Environmental Protection Agency website or at lung.org.

Contact

Theresa Mayhew
Resource Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences
tcm5@cornell.edu
(518) 828-3346 ext. 217

Last updated September 30, 2019