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Indoor air quality affects health
Donna Krug

The Fall season brings fluctuating temperatures that range from quite warm to downright chilly. That means many people will be testing out their furnaces before long, to make sure everything is working correctly. Indoor air quality is such an important topic so it seems like the perfect time to share some updated information on this subject.

We spend the majority of our time inside; 90 percent of it, in fact. Indoor air pollutants like mold, mildew, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke, radon, and asbestos can make some days you spend inside miserable. Indoor air pollution is a high contributor to illnesses. These pollutants can cause acute and chronic problems such as allergies, asthma, headaches, nausea and even cancer. Americans lose millions of dollars each year in medical costs, lost workdays and decreased productivity due to illnesses caused by poor indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality can actually be worse than outdoor air quality. Many buildings are built or remodeled so tightly that fresh air is prevented from entering and circulating. That is complicated by the use of many furnishings, appliances, products and decorations that can negatively affect indoor air quality. Of course the obvious signs of poor indoor air quality include unusual or noticeable odors. This may be attributed to moving into a new home, using new furniture, or using hobby products. Feeling noticeably healthier when you are outside is a definite clue that the air you are breathing inside your home may not be healthy.

Factors that impact air quality include lack of air movement, dirty or faulty heating or air conditioning equipment, damaged flue pipes or chimneys, unvented combustion for fossil fuel appliances, excessive humidity and the presence of mold and mildew. Many common household items pollute the air. 

As we move into a new season there are several things you can do to be pro-active related to indoor air quality. Now is the time to replace furnace filters. It is also the perfect time to check the radon level in your home. We continue to have Radon test kits available for purchase at both of our Cottonwood Extension offices. Give me a call if you have any questions about your indoor air quality.

Donna Krug is the Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. Contact her at 620-793-1910 or