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Surprising Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants That are Dangerous to Your Health

The air that you breathe inside your house is not always good for you. While the air outside is harmful to your health because of pollution, there may be gases indoors that are endangering your and your family’s safety, too.

Activities at home that households normally do may seem harmless but may actually be releasing toxins into the air. A few of these toxins are invisible or odorless which means you would not know that they are present in your vicinity until you start experiencing symptoms.

Investing in an indoor air purifier can ensure that the air inside your house does not contain any irritants. Some indoor plants, too, have been scientifically proven to capture toxins in the air, absorb harmful gases, and exhale oxygen in exchange.

However, knowing what indoor air pollutants are present in your home and where they are coming from is the best way to protect yourself and your family.

Cooking with Nonstick Pans

Americans love nonstick pans. A majority of skillets being sold in the United States have nonstick coatings.

Its popularity probably comes from the fact that, because it is nonstick, cooking with it requires less oil and butter. It is also easier to clean than regular skillets because there is less food sticking on its surface.

It also may be emitting chemicals into the air.

Teflon, the most common material used in nonstick pans, is generally safe to use. However, those who use cookware coated in Teflon should be careful not to overheat it.

Teflon will break down if subjected to high heat. It will release compounds that are very toxic to humans. Experts say that 500 degrees Fahrenheit should be the maximum temperature when cooking with a Teflon-coated nonstick pan. After that, the materials start to decompose and release chemicals into the air.

Cooking with Gas Stoves

Your gas stove may be exposing you and your family to indoor air pollution.

It is more common than you think. In a study conducted by advocacy groups, researchers found that tens of millions of people may be exposed to air pollution that, under the national air quality standards, would be illegal outdoors.

Cooking naturally produces pollutants that go into the air. That is why it is important for every household to make their meals in a well-ventilated area. Cooking through direct combustion created more pollutants.

According to research, cooking with gas produces twice as much PM2.5, a deadly air pollutant, than electric. It also released nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde.

You should make sure that your gas stove is installed properly and has adequate ventilation. A hood or fan that leads emissions outside can keep indoor air safe to breathe.

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Formaldehyde in Your Furniture

There is a small amount of formaldehyde found in almost every home. If you have a new house with laminated wood flooring, or you have recently purchased wood furniture, then you likely have brought formaldehyde into your home.

Exposure to formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. It may also aggravate symptoms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

To reduce the amount of formaldehyde in furniture, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that homeowners leave newly-purchased items outside for a while before bringing them into the house. It should also be customary for every household to open the windows and the doors for a few minutes every other day to bring fresh air indoors and let harmful pollutants escape outside.

Curtains that are permanently pressed should be washed before use in case it contains formaldehyde.

Chemicals in Dry-Cleaned Clothes

Perchloroethylene (or PERC) is a chemical that has been linked to cancer in animals. It is also used in dry-cleaning.

Many dry-cleaners still use PERC on textiles despite its possible adverse effect on health. Short-term exposure to this chemical may lead to dizziness, blurred vision, and loss of coordination. Long-term, it may cause memory loss.

Whenever you bring home dry-cleaning, you may also be introducing PERC into indoor air. Clothes that have been dry-cleaned should be left in the garage, or any place away from living spaces, for a few days before use. Otherwise, as much as possible, use your washing machine and clean your clothes at home.

Your home is your safe harbor. However, with pollutants and irritants potentially floating around the house, how would you feel at ease? You should make efforts to minimize danger at home by making sure that the air you breathe is fresh and clean by following the tips mentioned in this article.

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