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Avoid products with synthetic fragrances or perfumes, strong fumes and toxic ingredients
Use nontoxic or less-toxic substitutes for synthetic pesticides, chemical cleaners and renovation products. Hang/dry-cleaned clothes outside or in a well-ventilated area before bringing them inside. Purchase hardwood furnishings or seal new cabinets and furniture built from pressed woods with a nontoxic sealer. Buy used items, which are likely to have already offgassed their most potent fumes. (Buying used also helps the Earth by conserving resources and keeping things out of the waste stream.)
Put safety first
Install carbon monoxide, radon and smoke detectors throughout your home. Make sure all combustion equipment (anything that burns a fuel) is well maintained and regularly inspected for safety; combustion pollutants can enter the home from furnaces, water heaters, stoves, space heaters and clothes dryers. And don’t let anyone smoke in your house: Cigarette smoke contains about 4,000 chemical agents, including more than 40 known to cause cancer, according to the American Lung Association.
These simple steps should help you and your family breathe easier. For more, consult the Indoor AIRepair newsletter from the nonprofit Allergy & Asthma Network, aanma.org.
Do you need an air purifier?
If anyone in your family suffers from allergies and/or asthma, consult your doctor to see if he or she recommends using an air purifier. Some good options:
HEALTHMATE JR. BY AUSTIN AIR, $300 Removes dust, hair, pet dander, mold, spores, pollen, gases, odors and chemicals
and has a medical-grade HEPA filter. healthpurifiers.com
MINUSA2 SPA-700A BY RABBIT AIR, $460 Includes a custom filter with three choices: Toxin absorber, germ defense or pet allergies. rabbitair.com
PARALDA BY ALEN, $499 Filters out harmful bacteria, pollen and mold while reducing energy use; it also does not contain lead (some air purifiers do). alencorp.com
500 AIR PURIFIER BY AIR OASIS, $500 Captures dust particles, allergens, mold, bacteria, odors, viruses, VOCs and more. airoasis.com