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Hispanic Heritage 2010 – Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

2010 October 7

By Carmen Torrent

Is the air in your home healthy? Do you know how harmful substances got there and what to do about them? These are important questions to ask. Asthma triggers, mold, radon and secondhand smoke are all known to reduce the quality of indoor air.

As a Latina, one of the most important values for me is my family. I hold close to my heart not only my immediate family, but also my extended family of friends, neighbors and my three dogs.

A healthy family is an important part of our heritage. However, families often don’t know how important good indoor air quality (IAQ) is to their health. My neighbor, whom I love dearly, is a sweet, elderly woman who is mostly home-bound. This is actually not unusual, for the average American spends more than 90 percent of their time indoors. When I found out she has asthma, I helped her identify her triggers. I went through her house with her and pointed out how dust mites, mold and animal dander and other problems can be controlled to help reduce asthma triggers. Now she has an asthma action plan, takes the proper medication, and is controlling the quality of the air in her home. Learn more about those asthma triggers and watch the video “Breathing Freely: Controlling Asthma Triggers.”

Breathing clean air (whether indoors or outdoors) is essential for good health. The first step is to identify the source of pollutants and then take action to resolve any problems. Some key actions we should all take to protect our families include:

  • Get the mold out! Some people, such as infants and children, are especially vulnerable to mold exposure. Fix or eliminate any water problems, clean up the mold and control humidity levels.
  • Test and fix your home from radon. In fact, radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. You don’t know if you have a radon problem unless you test your home. Learn about how to get a test kit.

Remember, we can all control the quality of our own indoor air while preserving our heritage and the health of our loved ones.

About the author: Carmen Torrent a public affairs specialist in EPA’s Office of Indoor Air.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 7, 2010

    It seems just only the human species have much challenges in this planet, depend the others, e.g. plants, animals, etc. But we always exists…., but among them only the people who take four seasons more smarter and stronger than people’s two season in the world. Here, we have not problems with “indoor air”, but why we are not stronger than you are ? Are much challenges should be like you ? I pray You are developing on and bring us to development…!!!

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    October 7, 2010

    By just only two seasons, perhaps make us are lazy and “constantly thinking”. Our usage mind just eat, pray and sleep – do not care environmentally. I am “glad” with this climate-change make us shocks and hoping make the people open’s their minds.

  3. drhealthyliving permalink
    October 7, 2010

    Thank you for your post! Latinos and African Americans have a higher incidence of asthma, maybe that is why you are more educated in this issue. I am an Interior Designer and learned first hand how I can make a home “healthy” or “unhealthy” by the choices I give clients. After having children with asthma, I did alot of research on ways to eliminate, minimize and reduce exposure to the different products we bring into our homes. There are also so many behavioral changes which can be made (like smoking) that will make the indoor air quality better. We can have homes which promote wellness – it is really up to the occupants to become educated to live healthier lives. We all breathe! :) To HealthyLiving

  4. Debabrata Karfa permalink
    October 8, 2010

    I like the comments drhealthyliving say. Thanks for share.

  5. Daniel permalink
    October 8, 2010

    This is a great post, Carmen. I’m glad to see that others out there are not only aware of Indoor Air Quality month, but that they are also taking the necessary precautions to keep their families safe.

    Many of us are well aware of the poor air quality outside (as anyone with allergies right now can attest), but few people know the dangers of poor air quality inside our homes. And, as you said, Americans do spend 90 percent of their time indoors.

    We recently wrote about five ways to improve indoor air quality in your home. Give it a read and let us know what you think!

  6. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    October 11, 2010

    Clean indoor air is very important for everyones health, but few people ever stop to think how important it really is. One of the worst things people can do is smoke because even the second hand smoke has the chemical compounds in it to cause cancer if the smoke is injested enough for long enough. I know some of our apartment and condo complexes here in Orange County, especially those with disabled residents, make you sign a pledge that you won’t smoke in the buildings; and many of my firends that are looking for roommates have stipulations for the roommates that they won’t smoke, use drugs or drink. The idea of clean indoor air is one that is catching on in the disability community here in Orange County. Mold is also being seen as a problem for indoor air quality. My friend who has disabilities asked me to have her bathroom checked because of a dark mold like substance in the tub area and around the shower head of her apartment. The Orange County Healhth Department came out and tested and checked the mold in the tub area and had it gotten rid of; the area around the shower head that looked like it was mold was the result of a bad plumbing repair job that had to be redone. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  7. John Smith permalink
    October 11, 2010

    My uncle is using a device based on a salt filter to clean the air in his room. He is suffering from asthma and this device was a great remedy for his disease.

  8. Sue permalink
    October 12, 2010

    Thanks for the information. Basic information that is important but can make a difference. I didn’t realize how mold can be so dangerous. I have a pet and sometimes folks who are allergic to my dog visit. I have done some preventive things before folks visit. Definitely, I am changing my filter on my furnace more often and I think it really helps… I will spread the word about this site because it is clear and helpful!

  9. M.E.S. permalink
    October 20, 2010

    Thank you for your post on Indoor Air Quality.

    Many people think of their homes as safe places and would not look to them as causes of health problems. Having information available about potential health risks caused by your home as well as what you can do to eliminate these problems is very important.

    Are there ways to get Radon test kits that are free? If your state doesn’t offer free kits, are there programs out there where you could obtain one? These potential home-health problems can happen to people who don’t have the extra money or time searching for a free Radon test kit and I think it would be so helpful if they were made available to those in need. Do you know of any other ways people are notified about the need for Radon testing in the home? I noticed the EPA and the Surgeon General recommend on the EPA website that all homes be tested, but this is the first time I have heard it myself.

    Again, thank you for your post. It provides a lot of useful and enlightening information that can benefit everyone.

  10. Robart Thomas permalink
    November 28, 2010

    The ISCT mold inspection network provides on-call mold testing services 7 days a week. Since 1997, they have earned a reputation for honesty, integrity, ethics and premium customer service. Because of this, they have become one of the largest mold inspection companies in the nation. With a network of mold inspector employees and affiliates located throughout the United States, they have the resources, manpower, equipment, and expertise to help you with your mold testing needs and get the job done – quickly and efficiently. You want to get quick results in order to get a plan of action ready, they can steer you in the right direction. So contact with them as soon as possible.

    Robart Thomas

  11. Jani permalink
    December 2, 2010

    Hi M.E.S.; radon test kits are fairly cheap. Usually you can purchase one for about $20, and it is well worth the investment to know. Homes CAN be fixed to reduce radon, so there’s no reason why not to test.

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