When considering the threat of air pollution, many people immediately note the damage done by excessive emissions from vehicles and factories. However, the air inside a home is susceptible to pollution as well. The following are some of the more common sources of indoor air pollution that can prove just as harmful to human beings as those sources emanating from outside our homes.
* Carpet: Some materials in carpet emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which are emitted as gases and can have both short- and long-term adverse health effects. The concentration of many VOCs is as much as 10 times higher indoors than outdoors. When purchasing new carpet, homeowners can choose low-VOC adhesives that do not contain formaldehyde. It's also ideal to install new carpet in spring or early summer, when windows can be opened to air out the carpet for several hours without compromising comfort for those people inside the home.
* Glue: Glue is widely considered a handy cure-all for minor problems around the house, but glue may also be compromising your health. Certain glues and adhesives like rubber cement emit VOCs, which can irritate the eyes and even the nervous system, and some may even emit toxic formaldehyde. When purchasing glues and other adhesives, opt for water-based products and avoid using glues and adhesives in smaller, poorly ventilated areas of your home.
* Air fresheners: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that many household air fresheners almost continuously release pollutants. While some air fresheners are safe, the best way to freshen air in a home is to open the windows and let fresh air inside. When possible, open the windows to let fresh air in rather than relying on potentially harmful store-bought air fresheners.
* Older appliances: Old or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces and space heaters pose both safety and health risks around a home. Old or malfunctioning stoves increase the risk of fire around a home. But such products also intermittently release pollutants, putting residents' health in jeopardy. Homeowners should look into replacing especially old appliances, as today's newer products are both more efficient and liable to emit fewer pollutants than older products. Malfunctioning products should be fixed immediately or replaced if repairs are unlikely to significantly extend the life expectancy of the product.