of fact sheet (PDF, 184 KB)
The quality of the air in your home can affect your familys comfort and health.
The temperature and humidity should be controlled. Air should be clean and free of harmful
chemicals and smoke. Poor air quality can cause a stuffy nose, sore throat, burning eyes,
headache, and sleepiness. People who have asthma, allergies or lung disease are affected
more than others.
Carbon monoxide from faulty home heating systems cause about 200 deaths a year in the
United States. Carbon monoxide can also come from using portable
generators inappropriately. If you can not vent the exhaust
from your portable generator safely, do not use it!
Tips on Smoke and Carbon Monoxide:
Ban tobacco smoke from your home.
Install a carbon monoxide detector near bedrooms.
Inspect your gas appliances and chimney every year. Replace furnace filters every month
or two during periods of use. Make sure your gas dryer, furnace and water heater are
vented to the outdoors.
Keep fireplaces and wood stoves well vented to the outdoors.
Burn only clean, untreated
Never let a car or any gas engine idle in a garage or carport.
Never use a charcoal grill indoors or in a closed area like a garage.
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Mold and Mildew
Molds and mildew grow in damp, dark places. Molds and mildew can cause lung problems
especially in people who have allergies or asthma. You can prevent the growth of
molds and mildew in your home by controlling humidity.
Tips on Mold and Mildew:
- Control moisture. Use a dehumidifier during the summer. Use an
exhaust fan in the kitchen and bathroom. Vent the clothes dryer to the outdoors and make
sure the vent pipe is not clogged.
- Fix plumbing leaks before mold grows.
Dont store firewood inside. Bark contains millions of mold spores.
on molds and mildew.
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Chemicals can enter the air in your home when you paint, use cleaning solvents, install
pressed wood, install new carpets and use new fabrics. These chemicals can irritate your
eyes, throat, and nose. High levels can give you a headache or make you feel dizzy.
Tips on Chemicals:
Make sure your home has lots of fresh air.
Use safe paints, cleaners and other products. Look for those with the fewest warnings.
Read labels. Some chemicals should only be used in well-vented spaces. The label may
tell you if the chemicals can cause cancer or other health problems.
sheets of common toxic chemicals.
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Radon is a colorless, odorless, soil gas that can seep into your home through cracks in
concrete. Radon related lung-cancer causes thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year. Only
smoking causes more. All homes should be tested.
Tips on Radon:
Test your home. Many hardware stores sell low-cost test kits. Your local health
department may also have test kits. Make sure the kit has the words, "Meets EPA
Requirements" on the package. Test the air of the lowest floor of your home that is
lived in. If the radon level is less than 4 picocuries per liter, no action is needed.
If the level is above 4, repeat the test (or do a year-long test) to find the average
level in your home.
Correct the problem if the second reading is also above 4. Call the Radon Information
Center at 1-888-LOW RADON or contact your local public health department for more
information on Radon.
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Asbestos is used in heating insulation, pipe wrap, floor tiles, slate siding, slate
shingles, and ceiling tiles. Asbestos is harmful when it is damaged and fibers enter the
air. Breathing air that contains asbestos fibers over several years can increase your risk
of lung cancer.
Tips on Asbestos:
- If you think you may have asbestos in your home, contact a certified
asbestos inspector to find out what actions are needed.
- Dont try to remove asbestos by yourself. Only trained
professionals should do this work.
- Call the
Wisconsin Occupational Health Asbestos/Lead Training and Certification Unit at
608 261-6876 for more information.
If asbestos is present and in good condition, it may be best to manage it without
A comprehensive report on
asthma in Wisconsin
is available at:
of Asthma in Wisconsin 2010 (PDF, 7.2 MB)
Asthma is an illness that causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and
coughing. More than 6,000 young people visit the emergency department for
asthma treatment every year in Wisconsin. Pets, molds, pollen, and cockroaches can trigger asthma. Smoke, chemicals, ozone,
and exhaust fumes can also trigger asthma. More information on asthma
in Wisconsin and the Wisconsin
Asthma Program at the Department of Health Services can be
found at the asthma
Tips for People with Asthma:
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For more information on:
Prepared by the
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Division of Public Health
Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health
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May 21, 2013