Most people spend over 90% of their time indoors. Your home is a very
important environment where you and your family may spend much of
your time. This brochure offers ways to make your home a healthy place.
It includes information on indoor and outdoor air quality, pesticides,
toxic household products, mold, tobacco smoke, radon, drinking
water contaminants and making your home “green”. It has a little
information about a lot of different topics and links to web sites
to learn more. You can try the web links throughout the brochure
or go to the federal agency web sites listed below to learn more
about a particular topic that interests you.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov
U.S. Department of Agriculture at www.usda.gov
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at www.hhs.gov
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at www.hud.gov
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov
table of contents
staying healthy indoors: air quality............................................... 2
staying healthy indoors: toxics ....................................................... 5
staying healthy outdoors: air quality ........................................... 8
go green at home ................................................................................ 11
air quality index ................................................................................... 14
10 ways to make your home healthier ........................................ 15
contacts & links .................................................................................... 16
indoor air quality
are at greater respiratory risk from under “radon” for professionals in
ﬁrst and secondhand other exposures such as asbestos your area. While radon test kits are
smoke and radon. Smoking also is associ available at hardware stores, they
ated with an increased risk for Sud also can be purchased through the
den Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). National Safety Council at a discount
Consider quitting smoking today! ed rate. For information on these dis
counted test kits go to www.nsc.org/
Action you can take: issues/radon/radonkitcoupons.pdf
. Take the smoke-free pledge. or to www.epa.gov/radon and look
. Choose not to smoke in your home for the link to the discounted test kits.
and do not permit others to do so. Small
First and secondhand smoke comes
children are especially vulnerable to the carbon
from a burning cigarette, cigar, or
health effects of secondhand smoke. monoxide (CO)
pipe, or from an exhaling smoker. . Choose to smoke outside, if you must Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless,
Not only is secondhand smoke an smoke. Moving to another room or odorless, tasteless gas produced by
asthma trigger but those exposed opening a window is not enough to incomplete burning of fuels such as
to it tend to have more ear and protect your children. gas, oil, propane or wood. People with
respiratory infections such as bron anemia or with a history of heart
chitis, pneumonia, respiratory and or respiratory disease can be
ear infections. EPA estimates that
radon especially sensitive to CO ex
Radon is a naturally posure. Depending on the
secondhand smoke is responsible
occurring radioactive level and length of expo
for about 3,000 lung cancer deaths
gas that can seep into sure, carbon monoxide can
each year among nonsmokers in
your home through cause shortness of breath,
the U.S. About 800 of these are
cracks or holes in the nausea, headaches, diz
estimated to be from exposure
basement walls and floor. ziness, impairment of vi
to secondhand smoke at home,
Radon gas is colorless, odor sion and coordination, mental
and 2,200 deaths are from expo
less and tasteless. Much of the New confusion, fainting or even death.
sure in work or social situations.
England region has elevated levels of
Smoking greatly increases the risk
radon due to high amounts of granite Action you can take:
of lung and heart disease. In addi
bedrock. Risk depends on how much To prevent CO poisoning:
tion, smokers, and former smokers,
and how long you have been exposed
to radon gas, which is believed to . Make sure your heating systems,
EPA estimates that be the second leading cause of lung gas or propane stoves, ovens,
cancer after smoking. and dryers are well-vented and in
secondhand smoke is proper working order.
responsible for about Action you can take:
Test your home for radon. Radon . Don’t idle your car or lawnmower
3,000 lung cancer deaths test kits are available at hardware or other gasoline-powered equipment
stores. If the level exceeds the stan in the garage.
each year among non dard, have a professional help
. Don’t use propane heaters or
smokers in the U.S. you design a plan to vent the gas to
candles inside of tents.
the outside. Look in the phone book
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
This respiratory illness primarily affects
people over age 45 and has no known
cure. COPD includes chronic bronchitis and
emphysema. It is a serious health threat for
New Englanders and likely affects as many
as 24 million Americans nationally. Chronic
coughing, chest tightness and breathless
ness of COPD make everyday activities
difficult because even simple actions put too much strain on damaged lungs.
The best way to prevent COPD is to avoid smoking. While smoking is the
primary cause of COPD, air pollution can play a significant role in both causing
the disease and making it worse. Air pollution irritates the lungs and contrib
utes to the total overall burden. Individuals with respiratory diseases like COPD
are especially sensitive to air pollution. Exposure to air pollution may aggravate
symptoms and make it difficult to breathe.
Exhaust from cars, trucks, and power plants reacts with sunlight on hot
summer days to create ozone and emit tiny or fine particles, both of which
contribute to air pollution or smog. Air quality in New England is closely tied to
temperature and precipitation — the hotter and drier the summer, the higher
the concentration of regional pollutants.
People who are living with COPD need to pay careful attention to the air
quality. When levels of pollution are unhealthy, slow down your activities and
consider postponing outdoor activities. Throughout the summer, listen for
radio or television announcements by meteorologists about “Ozone Action
Days” designated by EPA New England or your state. An Ozone Action Day
is announced when ozone is predicted to exceed national health standards.
On these days it’s especially important to try to reduce pollution production.
Action you can take: Early detection can help prevent further
lung damage and alter the progress of the disease. Your healthcare provider indoors:
can perform a simple test using a spirometer to determine if you have COPD.
. When the power goes out, be careful many household products, includ ment, need moisture to germinate.
with generators and avoid unconven ing: paints; paint strippers and other If mold spores from the air land on
tional heating and cooking methods. solvents; wood preservatives; aero a wet surface in your home, they
. Put CO monitors/alarms that sol sprays; cleansers and disinfec may just need a day or two to grow.
meet UL (Underwriters Laborato tants; moth repellents and air fresh Potential health effects and symp
ries), IAS (International Approv eners; stored fuels and automotive toms associated with mold expo
al Service) standards in sleeping products; hobby supplies; and dry- sure include allergic reactions, asth
areas and basements. cleaned clothing. ma and other respiratory complaints.
For more information on mold, go to:
. Consider purchasing a vented space VOCs vary in their potential to www.cdc.gov/health/mold.html
heater when replacing an unvented affect health. Possible health effects
one. of exposure include: irritation to eyes, Action you can take:
. Use proper fuel in kerosene space nose and throat; damage to the liver, The key to controlling mold
heaters. kidneys and central nervous system; problems in your home is to control
and cancer. moisture! Fix leaks. Dry water-dam
. Install and use an exhaust fan vent
aged areas and items within 24-48
ed to outdoors over gas stoves.
Action you can take: hours. Reduce indoor humidity (to
. Open flues when fireplaces are in use. Look for safer alternatives and choose 30%-60% ) by:
. Choose properly sized wood stoves environmentally friendly products.
If you must use products with VOCs, . venting bathrooms, dryers, and
that are certified to meet EPA emission
reduce your exposure by ventilat other moisture-generating sources
standards. Make certain that doors on
ing work areas and buying only the to the outside
all wood stoves fit tightly.
amount of product that you need. . using air conditioners and
. Have a trained professional inspect,
Take care to dispose of any unused de-humidifiers
clean, and tune-up central heating
products as directed and in a safe
system (furnaces, flues and chimneys) . increasing ventilation
manner (for example, take advantage
annually. Repair any leaks promptly. . using exhaust fans whenever
of municipal household hazardous-
waste collection days). cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning
organic vapors or If mold is in your home, killing it with
volatile organic mold bleach or cleaner is not enough.
compounds (VOCs) The mold itself has to be removed.
Action you can take:
To remove mold from hard surfaces,
scrub it with a detergent cleaner and
water. Be sure to wear safety gear
such as goggles, gloves and a mask.
After removing the mold, take care to
dry the surface completely! Certain
mold-damaged, non-washable items
Mold thrives in moist environments.
may have to be thrown away or treat
Organic vapors or volatile organic Mold spores, which are found al
ed by a specialist. For more informa
compounds (VOCs) are found in most everywhere in our environ
tion, go to www.cdc.gov/mold/
indoors: toxics Some old toys contain lead or lead
paint, and toys can pick up lead from
asbestos contaminated soil or house dust. Lead
Asbestos is a mineral found in some was also used in older pipes, solder and
older construction materials. It was plumbing fixtures that can corrode and
used in shingles for roofing and siding, release lead into drinking water.
pipe and boiler insulation. It was also
used in floor tiles, ceiling panels (includ Exposure can result in lower intelligence
ing acoustical tiles), coatings, gaskets in children and has been associated with
and some vermiculite insulation, and in behavioral and attention problems. It
brake linings and disc-brake pads of older can lead to kidney, liver, brain and nerve
and some imported vehicles. Asbestos- damage. At very high levels, it can cause
containing materials in good condition seizures, coma and even death. In addition,
do not pose a health risk, so the safest, lead exposure can contribute to osteopo
easiest and least expensive option may rosis, can cause high blood pressure and
be to leave it alone. When construction heart disease, especially in men. Lead ex
materials break down, are damaged or posure may also lead to anemia.
disturbed, tiny fibers of the mineral can
be released into the air. Inhaling Action you can take:
asbestos fibers can cause . Get kids tested for lead by
serious lung damage, in their doctor or health care
cluding lung cancer. provider.
Action you can . If your home was built
take: If you decide before 1978 test it and
to have asbestos re the soil in your yard for
moved, hire a state-cer lead paint hazards and
tified asbestos abatement their source.
professional to remove any . Wash children’s hands be
asbestos from your home. Do fore they eat; wash bottles, paci
NOT do it yourself! Look in the phone fiers, and toys often.
book under “asbestos” for professionals
. Wash floors and window sills to protect
in your area. Hire a professional mechanic
kids from dust and peeling paint contami
to maintain or repair any vehicle parts that
nated with lead - especially in older homes.
may contain asbestos.
. Run cold water until it becomes as cold
as it can get. Use only cold water for drink
lead ing, cooking, and making baby formula.
Lead, once widely used in many different
materials, is still found in many older New
. If you, or a family member, suspect ex
posure to lead, have a health professional
England homes. It was added to paint test your blood for lead levels, and follow
before being banned in 1978. Lead paint
that is chipping, peeling or in high use
up as recommended. indoors:
areas (like window sills, doors, or stairways) . For information on how to test and/or
can form dust. When this lead, contained
in dust and paint chips, is breathed
remove lead in soil, go to www.epa.gov/
into the lungs or eaten, it poses a risk
to children. Toys may also pose risks.
mercury Children exposed to mercury, either supplies are monitored by the gov
before they are born by the mother’s ernment and the vast majority are
exposure or as very young children, safe and dependable. Every year,
may have developmental and learn water suppliers are required to send
ing delays and disorders. a water quality report to the house
holds they serve. In the rare case
Action you can take: when there is a problem with the
. Avoid exposure to mercury! public water supply, the supplier
. Pregnant women and children must alert, either by mail or through
should limit or avoid eating fish with the media, everyone who might be
higher mercury levels. affected. If you have a private well,
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that . Check local fish advisories with in most cases it is your responsibil
can cause damage to the brain and your state health department to find ity to have it tested. You should con
central nervous system. The primary out which fish have higher levels of sider testing it anually to ensure the
mercury in your area. quality of your drinking water.
route of human exposure is eating
fish that have acquired and accumu . Find alternatives to mercury-
lated mercury in their tissues. Some
containing products such as digi Action you can take:
tal thermometers, or substitutes in Find out about the quality of your
commercially available fish, especially cultural and spiritual practices.
large fish such as shark, swordfish, drinking water. If your water comes
. Take precautions when cleaning from a public water system, read your
king mackerel and tilefish, tend to
up spills. water quality report carefully. If you
have higher levels of mercury. Canned
light tuna has lower mercury levels . For more information, go to: www. have a private well, have it tested!
than albacore, fresh/frozen tuna and
canned white tuna. Get more infor
mation at: www.epa.gov/mercury/
pesticides and toxic
drinking water Exposure to some household chemi
Mercury can also enter the body by
contaminants cals, such as pesticides, may cause
harm to children, pets or the envi
breathing vapors from broken mer
ronment. Always carefully read and
cury thermometers, broken fluorescent
follow all instructions on product
bulbs, or spilled liquid mercury. In ad
labels regarding use and storage.
dition, some people may unknowingly
expose themselves to mercury (also
Examples of household pesticides
called azogue or vidajan) through
cultural and spiritual practices. These
. cockroach sprays and baits
practices, which include sprinkling
. insect repellents for personal use
or burning mercury, release mercury
. rat and other rodent poisons
vapors into the home. . flea and tick sprays, powders, and
Clean drinking water is necessary pet collars
Exposure to mercury may result in . kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfec-
for good health. High concentra
irritability and mood swings, chang tants and sanitizers
tions of bacteria, synthetic chemi
es in vision, hearing or speech, and . products that control or kill mold
cals and natural contaminants
memory and mental problems. It can and mildew
in drinking water all can pose a . some lawn and garden products,
also cause serious kidney damage.
threat to your health. Public water such as weed killers
Examples of household chemicals protective standards on the amount of
include: a pesticide residue that may remain on
. disinfectants and cleaning supplies food if pesticides are applied to a crop.
. medicines All pesticide product labels carry a
. paints and stains signal word of “danger,” “warning” or
. air fresheners “caution” to indicate relative hazards
. swimming pool chemicals to people (from higher concern to
lower concern). EPA requires certain
By their nature, many pesticides may pesticides to be in child-resistant pack
pose some risk to humans, animals, aging. It is important for parents to
or the environment because they are take precautions to keep all pesticides
designed to kill or otherwise ad and other household chemicals in
versely affect living organisms. At the secure places safely out of the reach of
same time, pesticides are often useful children and pets.
because of their ability to control dis
ease-causing organisms, insects, weeds, Action you can take:
or other pests. The pesticide label is . Try to use the least toxic and
your guide to using pesticides safely environmentally friendly options
and effectively. It contains pertinent available for the job.
information that you should read and . READ THE LABEL before you buy,
understand before you use a pesticide use, store or dispose of household
product. Poisoning from household pesticides and chemicals.
chemicals may have a range of effects
. Wash fruits or vegetables to
from mild distress like nausea or dizzi
remove dirt, chemicals, bacteria,
ness to more serious harm including
injury to the lungs, or damage to the
nervous, reproductive, endocrine and . Eat a variety of foods, from a variety
immune systems. Health effects de of sources to obtain a better mix of
pend on the toxicity of the product and nutrients and reduce the likelihood
the amount and length of exposure. of exposure from a certain pesticide.
EPA regulates pesticides in the United . Always wash your hands after
States under the pesticide law (the using any chemical product.
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and . Store pesticides and toxic house
Rodenticide Act). Before EPA allows hold products in their original con
a pesticide to be marketed for use in tainers in high, locked cabinets, away staying healthy
the U.S., EPA carefully reviews scientific from the reach of children.
data on the chemical to understand its
toxicity and any potential concerns for
. If you suspect poisoning, call indoors:
POISON CONTROL at 1-800-222-1222.
human health and the environment.
EPA periodically re-evaluates older . For more information on using
pesticide chemicals to ensure that pesticides properly, visit EPA’s web
they conform to current health and site at www.epa.gov/pesticides/
safety standards. EPA also sets health- health/safely.htm
asthma outdoors: air quality
to development of asthma
in children who exercise out
side. Chronic exposure to fine
particles may affect lung function
and growth. Such pollutants also
can exacerbate asthma, leading
to breathing difficulties, increased
use of medication and visits to
Asthma is the leading cause of doctors’ offices, emergency rooms
Ground-level ozone (one of the
long-term illness in children and and hospitals.
main ingredients in smog) is
is also common in older adults created when pollution from cars and
who may have managed it for Action you can take: trucks and industrial sources reacts
years or developed it later in . Keep your home as with sunlight on hot sum
life. Indoor asthma triggers, free of these triggers as mer days. Ozone near
such as smoke, dust mites, ground level can harm
pet fur and skin flakes, molds, the respiratory system,
causing irritation in
cockroaches, house dust, and . For more in-depth
the throat, coughing
pollen are some of the irri
information on asth and chest discomfort.
tants and allergens common in
ma, go to: www.epa. Ozone can aggravate
many homes. These irritants and
gov/envirohealth/ asthma, emphysema and
allergens can cause more fre bronchitis and can inflame and
children/ or to
quent or more severe asthma at damage, temporarily or permanently,
tacks for some children with the cells that line the lungs.
Action you can take:
Research on environmental . Listen to forecasts for high ozone or
smog in your area. This advice applies
factors that cause or wors
especially to children and adults with
en asthma has focused on in
door and outdoor environmen
tal triggers, including nitrogen . If levels are high, limit your outdoor
activities or slow down your activi
dioxide, pesticides, plasticizer,
ties to reduce your exposure. On high
volatile organic compounds,
ozone days, take steps to minimize
and fine particles. Chronic
emissions, such as refraining from
exposure to ozone may be linked using gas-powered lawn and garden
equipment and reducing the number
of trips you take in your car. the use of candles, wood-burning
. Fuel your vehicle in early morning or stoves and fireplaces. Certain filters
in the evening. and room air cleaners can help reduce
indoor particle levels. However,
some air purifiers release
airborne particles potentially harmful levels
of ozone and some fail
to effectively remove un
wanted particles. Listen
to local forecasts to find out
when particle levels are high
in your area and reduce outdoor
activities to reduce exposure. This
advice applies especially to people
with respiratory or heart disease,
Airborne particles (also called fine the older adults and children.
particles or particulate matter) are an
other major ingredient of smog and
the main ingredient of haze. Airborne contaminated soil
particles come from various sources,
including fuel burning activities such
as power plants, incinerators, trucks
and buses, and wood stoves and fire
places. Smoke, airborne dust, dirt,
soot and liquid droplets can pose seri
ous air quality problems in the home
and to children. Particle pollution
can occur year-round and can affect
both the lungs and heart. Short-term Soil surrounding the home can
exposure to particles can aggravate become contaminated by lead and
lung disease, causing asthma attacks other metals, especially from chip
and acute bronchitis, and may also ping and peeling lead-based house
increase susceptibility to respira paint. Vegetables or fruits grown
tory infections. Particle levels can be in lead-contaminated soil may also staying healthy
elevated indoors, especially when contain lead.
outdoor particle levels are high.
Action you can take:
Action you can take:
To reduce indoor levels of fine parti
Have your soil tested for lead
(see Actions, p.5). Don’t grow veg air quality
cles, refrain from smoking and reduce etables if the testing shows high
air quality forecast
levels of lead in the soil. If your and suppress the immune system
soil is contaminated and you still when exposure is excessive. Sunlight EPA works in coordination with
want to grow fruits or vegetables, tends to be strongest in the summer local weather forecasters to
purchase topsoil and potting soil and in the middle of a clear day; however, provide a color-coded chart that
grow the plants in containers. Also, UV is present at some level whenev- reports air quality levels in com
landscape your yard to minimize expo- er the sun is up, all day, all year munities across New England.
sure. Go to www.epa.gov/region01/ — even on cloudy days. You may see this chart on
leadsafe for detailed information on Overexposure to the local weather fore
what more you can do. sun’s harmful UV light casts. The purpose
may damage skin, of the Air Quality
cause eye damage Index and Fore
ultraviolet (UV) and suppress the cast is to help you
radiation immune system. understand what
local air quality
means to your health.
It is divided into cat
egories that corresponds to a
. Avoid overexposure to the sun
different level of health concern.
by using sun screen, staying in the
shade or inside and covering up with
light clothing and a hat when the UV For more information,
radiation is at its peak. please refer to the
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun . Wear sunglasses. detailed AQI chart
may damage skin, cause eye damage on page 14.
New England’s unusually hot or cold weather can present a threat to the health of older
adults people. When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm
and safe can become a challenge. Many homes will be too cold, either due to a power
failure or because the heating system isn’t adequate for the weather. When people
must use space heaters and fireplaces to stay warm, the risk of household fires increas
es, as well as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. In summer the opposite can be true.
During a heat wave, it can be difficult to find cool relief and homes can become dangerously
overheated. Sensitivity to temperature extremes increases as we age.
Action you can take: Those with chronic diseases are at greatest risk.
Stock food, fluids and clothing appropriate for extreme cold or heat. Identify some
public places you could go to escape the extreme weather. Be aware of current
and forecasted air quality by signing up to receive free air quality alerts at www.epa.gov/ne/aqi/, and plan activi
ties accordingly. Know who to call if you need help.
go green at home
ers, televisions, cell phones) and food
reuse wastes. Collecting recyclables varies from
The old adage “One man’s trash is community to community; however,
another man’s treasure” defines reuse. there are four primary methods
Reusing items by repairing them, do of recycling: curbside, drop-off
nating them to charity and community centers, buy-back centers, and
groups, or selling them reduces waste. deposit/refund programs.
Reusing products, when possible, is
even better than recycling because the Action you can
item does not need to be reprocessed take: Identify your
before it can be used again. community’s recycling
program at www.epa.gov/
Action you can take: Consid region1/communities/
er reuse when disposing of household recycling.html or contact your
items such as old computers, clothing local department of public works
and appliances. For reuse opportuni or state environmental agency.
ties, see EPA New England’s pamphlet
titled Reuse in New England, a resource
guide to donation opportunities at recycling electronics
reuse/index.html Electronic equipment, sometimes
referred to as “e-waste” is an emerging
and growing waste stream. E-waste
recycle includes electronic products discarded
by consumers such as TV and computer
monitors, CPUs and computer peripher
als (e.g., keyboards, mice), cell phones,
Check what kind of electronics can be
collected in your community and which
retailers and manufacturers will take
their products back for free or for a fee.
E-waste contains natural resources,
Recycling includes collecting recy including metals and plastics that
clable materials that would other can be reclaimed. In addition, com
wise be considered garbage, sorting puter monitors and older TV picture
and processing recyclables into raw tubes contain an average of two
materials, and manufacturing raw
materials into new products. Recy
to four pounds of lead (depend
ing on their age) and require special
clable materials typically include: pa handling when disposed. Electronics
per and paperboard (like newsprint,
cardboard, direct mail), glass, metals
also can contain other substances of
concern, including mercury, cadmi
(such as steel and aluminum), plas um, and brominated flame retardants.
tics (like bottles, grocery bags), yard When electronics are disposed of
waste (such as grass clippings, brush), improperly, these toxic materials can
electronic equipment (like comput present problems.
Action you can take: in your backyard in a compost pile or to be household hazardous waste.
Extending the life of your electron bin or in your home with a worm bin. Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils,
ics or donating your most up-to-date It is nature’s way of recycling organic batteries, pesticides and solvents,
and working electronics can save you waste into new soil, which can be used which contain potentially hazardous
money and saves valuable resources. in vegetable and flower gardens, ingredients, require special care at
Safely recycling outdated electronics landscaping, and many other disposal. If mishandled, these
promotes safe management of haz applications. products can be danger
ardous components and supports the ous to your health and
recovery and reuse of valuable materi Action you the environment.
als. For detailed information on what can take: Collect
you can do, go to: www.epa.gov/ your yard and food Action you
region01/solidwaste/electronic/ wastes and start your can take:
what-u-can-do.html own composting Never pour house
at home. See www. hold hazardous wastes
epa.gov/NE/compost down the drain, on the
composting ing/index.html and check ground, into storm sew
Composting, the controlled biological your state environmental ers, or put them out with
decomposition of organic matter such agency’s composting site. the trash.
as food and yard wastes into humus,
a soil-like material, is another form of Action you can take:
recycling. It is nature’s way of recycling household Proper disposal opportunities gener
organic wastes into new soil which hazardous waste ally include community sponsored
can be used in vegetable and flower Discarded household products that household hazardous waste days. Go to
gardens, landscaping and many other contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or www.epa.gov/NE/communities/
applications. Composting can be done reactive ingredients are considered hazwaste.html for detailed information.
pressure treated wood
Pressure-treated wood is EPA’s review of CCA is still ongoing, the agency does not be
wood that has been treated lieve there is any reason to remove or replace CCA-treated
with a preservative to pro structures, including decks and playground equipment.
tect it against dry rot, fungi,
molds, termites and other Action you can take: Always wash hands thor
pests. Since the 1970s, the oughly after contact with any treated wood, especially prior
majority of wood used to to eating and drinking. Food should not come into direct
build outside structures, such contact with any treated wood. Wash play clothes and toys
as swing and play sets, decks, if they have come in contact with any treated wood. If you
walkways, fences and picnic are concerned, you may want to consider the application of a
tables, was treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). coating product to pressure-treated wood on a regular basis.
CCA is a chemical wood preservative containing chromium, The following link provides information on sealants: (www.
copper and arsenic. Exposure to inorganic arsenic may pres epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/index.htm#sealants).
ent certain hazards. Use of CCA for wood products around Some studies suggest that sealants can reduce the amount
the home and in children’s play areas is no longer allowed as of CCA that leaches from treated wood. Treated wood should
of December 31, 2003. Even though CCA can no longer be never be burned in open fires, stoves, fireplaces, or residential
used in residential settings, many existing decks and other boilers. For more information on CCA, see EPA’s web site at
structures are made of wood treated with CCA. Although www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/
how to start saving energy than any other appliance in
energy with your home, but an ENERGY STAR7 qualified
refrigerator uses about half the energy
ENERGY STAR7 today of a 10-year old conventional model.
. Consider replacing your central air
conditioning system if it is more than
seven years old. Look for the ENERGY
STAR7 label when you buy and use 20%
less energy than a standard model.
If just one household in 10 bought
ENERGY STAR7 is a government-backed ENERGY STAR7 heating and cooling equip
program helping businesses and in ment, the change would keep over 17
dividuals protect the environment billion pounds of pollution out of our air.
through superior energy efficiency.
Energy efficient choices can save fami . Replace your clothes washer with
lies about a third on their energy bill an ENERGY STAR7 labeled model when
with similar savings of greenhouse gas it is time. Clothes washers use energy
emissions, without sacrificing features, to both clean clothes and heat water,
style or comfort. There are several sim so to save on energy costs, wash your
ple actions you can take to save energy. clothes in cooler water. ENERGY STAR7
qualified clothes washers use 50% less
. Change a light and save a bundle. water and 70% less energy per load;
ENERGY STAR7 qualified light bulbs are 75% that’s up to $100 every year.
more efficient than incandescent bulbs.
When just one room in every home . Run your washer, dryer, and dish
is brightened by ENERGY STAR7 lighting, washer only with a full load.
the change will keep over one trillion
pounds of carbon dioxide out of our air. . Seal and insulate your home to
improve comfort and reduce heating
. Make a quick trip to the hardware store and cooling costs. EPA recommends
or home improvement center for a hot Home Sealing to improve your home’s
water insulation kit to wrap your water “envelope” or the outer walls, ceiling,
heater and save on water heating costs. windows and floors. To improve the
envelope of your home: Add insula
. Use an ENERGY STAR7 qualified tion, seal air-leaks, and choose an
programmable thermostat that can ENERGY STAR7 labeled window if you’re in
automatically adjust the temperature of the market for new windows.
your home when you are away.
. Check with your local utility or use
. Ensure that your whole system (i.e.,
our Special Offers search to see what
furnace, heat pump, air conditioner,
incentives or rebates are available for
and heating and cooling) is energy
the purchase of ENERGY STAR7 qualified
efficient. Leaky ducts can decrease the
appliances, lighting, or HVAC systems.
overall energy efficiency of your heating
and cooling system by as much as 20%.
Duct sealing increases efficiency and . Start saving energy by using our at home
lowers your utility bills. Home Improvement Tools. These tools
can tell you how efficiently you use
. Upgrade your refrigerator if it is 10 energy at home and recommend the
years old or older. Refrigerators use more most cost-effective improvements.
AQI air quality index
Air Quality Levels of Cautionary Cautionary
Index (AQI) Health Statements Statements for
Values Concern for Ozone Particle Pollution
0-50 Good None None The Air Quality
Unusually sensitive Unusually sensitive is a standardized
people should people should
51-100 Moderate method of report
consider reducing consider reducing
prolonged or heavy prolonged or heavy ing air pollution. It
exertion outdoors. exertion. measures pollutant
concentrations in a
Active children and adults, People with heart community’s air to a
and people with lung or lung disease, number on a scale of
for Sensitive disease, such as asthma, older adults, and 0 to 500. It enables
Groups should reduce children should
Air Quality “Forecast” - EPA works in coordination with lo- the public to deter
prolonged or heavy reduce prolonged
cal weather forecasters to provide a color-coded chart that
exertion outdoors. or heavy exertion.
mine whether air
aq in communities across New Eng-
reports air quality levels chart here
pollution levels are
land. You may see this chart on local weather forecasts.
The purpose of the Air Quality Index and Forecast is to good, moderate, un
Active children and adults,
help you understand what local air quality means to
and people with lung People with heart or healthful—or worse.
your health. It is divided into categories that corre- lung disease, older adults,
disease, such as asthma, It is often seen on
sponds to a different level of health concern. and children should avoid
should avoid prolonged or
151-200 Unhealthy heavy exertion outdoors. prolonged or heavy exer- weather broadcasts
Everyone else, especially tion. Everyone else should on television.
children, should reduce reduce prolonged
prolonged or heavy or heavy exertion.
Active children and adults, People with heart or
and people with lung lung disease, older adults,
disease, such as asthma,
Very and children should avoid
201-300 should avoid all outdoor all physical activity outdoors.
Unhealthy exertion. Everyone else, Everyone else should avoid
especially children, should prolonged or heavy
avoid prolonged or heavy
People with heart or lung
disease, older adults,
Everyone should avoid all and children should
301-500 Hazardous remain indoors and keep
physical activity outdoors.
activity levels low. Everyone
else should avoid all
physical activity outdoors.
ten ways to make your home healthier
1. Clear the air. 6. Water, water
Take the smoke-free pledge. Choose
not to smoke in your home and do not
Know the quality of your drinking
permit others to do so. Small children
water. If you have a private drinking
are especially vulnerable to the health
water well, test it periodically.
effects of secondhand smoke. Choose
to smoke outside, if you must smoke.
Moving to another room or opening a 7. Get the lead out.
window is not enough to protect your Avoid potential sources of lead. If your
children. home was built before 1978, have
your home tested for lead paint. When
remodeling or doing home repairs, be
2. Air quality. careful that you do not create lead dust.
Listen to local forecasts for ozone, smog
Keep children visiting your home away
and particulate matter. When levels are
from lead hazards.
high, limit your outdoor activities.
3. Rid your house 8. Keep mercury
of radon. from rising.
Test the level of radon gas in your home Limit your intake of specific types of
with a radon test kit. If the test result is fish with high levels of mercury. Have a
4pCi/L or higher, takes steps to reduce mercury-free home—find alternatives
radon. to mercury thermometers or mercury
used for cultural or spiritual practices.
4. Some household
9. Too much sun
products are toxic.
Use with caution! Look for alternatives is not much fun.
to pesticides and household chemi Cover up, use SPF 15 or higher sun
cals. If you must use them, always read screen, and stay out of the midday sun
the label and follow directions exactly. to avoid damaging UV rays.
Always store them in high locked cabi
nets and in their original containers. Talk about the weather. Make a plan
for temperature extremes—keep food,
fluids and clothing stocked for extreme
5. Check for cold or heat, think of public places to
carbon monoxide. go to escape the extreme tempera
tures, and identify who you can call for
Check that all potential sources of car
bon monoxide, such as space heaters help if you need it.
and wood stoves, are well-vented and
in proper working order. Never idle the 10. Wash your hands of it.
car or lawnmower in the garage, or use
propane heaters in tents!
Keep the dirt outside. Remove shoes at to make your
the door. Wash your hands to keep dirt
that might be contaminated with lead,
and pesticides off you and your kids. home healthier
contacts & links
poison control children
EPA New England
Children’s Health website:
National Poison Control Hotline:
1-800-222-1222 (emergency) www.epa.gov/ne/topics/
202-362-8563 (TDD) humanh/childrenh.html
EPA National Headquarters
tive materials requests)
Office of Children’s Health
American Association of Protection website:
Poison Control Centers:
info/ (information about poisoning)
www.aapcc.org Environmental Justice Hotline:
air quality information email@example.com
www.epa.gov/ne/aqi Pediatric Environmental Health
(information about New England Center at Children’s Hospital:
air quality) 1-888-CHILD14 (1-888-244-5314)
(information on national
air quality) aging
EPA National Headquarters
general information Aging Initiative website:
EPA New England www.epa.gov/aging
1 Congress Street, Suite 1100
Boston, MA 02114-2023
EPA New England’s
Customer Call Center:
Information Center Hotline
National Service Center for
Environmental Publications: & Links
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