Last month we looked at the importance of indoor air quality in your home with a focus on the bedroom areas. This month we will continue the series with a focus on the living room and family room areas of your home. These rooms receive a lot of use, so you want to be sure they are safe places for your family and visitors. We’ll consider three issues that typically cause health concerns in these rooms of the house.
1. Secondhand smoke. Many recent studies prove the health risks to those people exposed to secondhand smoke from cigarettes, cigars, pipes and other tobacco products. The smoke can trigger asthma and other respiratory illnesses, especially in children. Children are vulnerable to these products because their bodies are still growing and developing and also because children have a higher breathing rate than adults do. If you haven’t yet, establish a no-smoking rule for your home and cars to protect the health of you and your family. No exceptions.
2. Pet dander and hair. Pet dander and hair can set off asthma and allergy attacks in people who are sensitive to these triggers. Keep pets away from sleeping areas and from upholstered furniture, carpets, and stuffed toys. If you have pets, be sure you vacuum, dust and clean your carpets, rugs and furniture often. If you have a family member who is allergic to animals, as difficult as it may be, the best solution is to find a new home for the family pet. You may also want to consider using air cleaners or purifiers.
3. Carbon Monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a concern in the family home that needs to be monitored closely. It can come from several sources. Gas ranges, fireplaces, leaking chimneys, unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, exhaust fumes from cars and other vehicles in attached garages, and back-drafting from wood stoves and fireplaces can all be sources of carbon monoxide. Be sure that you properly ventilate rooms that have fireplaces. Verify that the flue damper works and is fully open when using the fireplace. Also, have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly, making sure that it is properly sealed. Be alert for the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:
*fatigue *chest pain (for those with heart disease) *impaired vision and coordination *headaches *dizziness *confusion *nausea
Remember, carbon monoxide is fatal in high concentrations.
Taking the time to make sure your indoor air quality is healthy is especially important in the colder fall and winter months when our homes are closed up with our heating systems and fireplaces operating. Enlist your family’s help in following the rules so that everyone can enjoy a healthy fall and winter.