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ALERT!

A Checklist of things to worry about:
indoor pollutants and household hazards

By DianneK

Now that fall is here once again, it's time to get ready for bad weather and in-door living. Here are some things to consider while putting away the lawn furniture and barbecue.

While you're raking the leaves, somebody mentions air pollution. We all know what that is -- it's the stuff in the air caused by cars and trucks, the industrial pollution, the smog and chokes us and causes our eyes to run and the trees to die. What else is new?

According to some information I received from the National Safety Council, there's something else we should be worried about. Check out this list:

  • Did you know that indoor levels of air pollutants may be three to five times and occasionally up to one hundred times their outdoor levels.
  • Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors at work, school, or home.
  • An estimated 1,000 people die each year from exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • 80-90% of most people's exposure to pesticides occurs indoors.
  • An estimated 100,000 children accidentally ingest pesticides each year.
  • In 1996, more than 30 million Americans were served by water systems that violated one or more public health standards.
  • Some 560,000 people become moderately to severely ill each year from consuming contaminated water.

Here is a list of primary indoor pollutants:

-Environmental tobacco smoke
-Lead used in house paint prior to 1978
-Asbestos used in insulation, flooring and plasters
-Formaldehyde found in particleboard, carpet, insulation and commonly used glues
-Carbon monoxide from combustion appliances that use oil, gas, kerosene, coal or wood
-Mold and mildew from wet or damp carpet, central air systems and humidifiers
-Dust mites, cockroaches and animal dander
-Pesticides
-Radon
-Drinking water

Here's a list of ailments we can get from these pollutants:

Lung cancer, lower respiratory tract infections, IQ deficiencies, impaired hearing, other cancers, fatigue, headaches, nausea, asthma, influenza, damage to the central nervous system and kidneys, lead poisoning. There's more but I can't continue.

Here's a to-do list to create a less-hazardous living space:
__Quit smoking
__Repaint the house
__Pull up the asbestos
__Replace the carpets and stop sniffing glue
__Check the furnace and get one of those carbon monoxide detectors
__If you keep the carpet, have it cleaned properly and don't let it get damp
__Train the dog a little better
__Vacuum more often to get rid of those pesky dust mites and animal dander
__Stop using pesticides on the cockroaches, maybe use a nine millimeter instead
__Get a radon detector
__Get the drinking water analyzed. Better yet, stop drinking water altogether.

Some of these remedies may sound tongue-in-cheek, but you get the idea. There are things we can do to make our home environment safer. We're all at risk. And of course, we can do something about all that outside air pollution too, but we'd have to get involved at another level in order to see some results.

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