Pumpkin pies baking and chimneys smoking are familiar scents this time of year. But it’s the things you can’t sniff that could be threats to you and your family. Beware of these indoor pollutants that give hardly a whiff of their fatal presence:
- Carbon monoxide. Gas–powered appliances and heating systems can give off CO, which causes serious illness and even death. Install CO detectors in your home and have a qualified technician service your gas system at least once a year. Burn your fireplace only after it’s been properly swept and ventilated. Never heat up the car by running it until you’re out of the garage — even with the door open, the exhaust can build up to toxic levels.
- Radon. It’s estimated 15% of American homes are vulnerable to this cancer–causing gas that seeps up from the earth. Homes built on basements and crawl spaces tend to be most susceptible. Seal up foundation cracks and water pipes. Consider having a certified EPA contractor measure your home’s radon concentration, or purchase a home testing kit.
- Mold. If symptoms of fall allergies still linger, the problem might actually be hidden mold. It thrives on moisture, so look in damp areas like bathrooms, underneath kitchen sinks, and anywhere you’ve had a leak (like the attic). Have a mold inspector check if you or a family member has persistent asthma symptoms.