Everyone wants to take good care of their family. We try to eat healthy foods (and hear lots of information on doing that). Children go to the doctor for regular checkups. And, you try your best to protect your family from accidents and illness. You want to live in a safe neighborhood and home.

But, did you know you might have hidden dangers to your children’s health? Ask yourself some questions. Is the air in your home clean and healthy? Do your children have breathing problems, like asthma? Is someone in your home allergic to mold? Do you know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning? Is there lead anywhere in your home? Do you keep your poisons where your children can reach them?

Surprisingly, indoor air is usually more contaminated than outdoor air. Contaminants are in the form of gases and fine particles. Household cleaning is generally ineffective in removing gaseous pollutants, but it can affect the concentration of particles in the air. Fine particles (particulates) include dust and smoke that enter a dwelling from outside, as well as particles that are generated inside.

Often indoor air is more polluted because most particulates are generated within the living space. Internal sources of particulate contamination are smoke and grease aerosol (airborne particles) from cooking and using self-cleaning ovens; mold and fungal growth from moisture and high humidity; allergens produced by pets, insects, and dust mites; toxic lead dust from peeling lead based paint; and airborne dust from vacuuming and duct cleaning.

Some particulates enter the house in another form and become airborne. The dirt brought in from outside on shoes or pets is deposited on the floor, where it is ground into small particles as it is walked on. The smallest particles are suspended in the air, while the larger ones settle back on the floor, only to be reground again. The outside dirt can be a carrier of pesticides, pollen, fungi, bacteria, animal feces and insect parts.

Airborne particles can cause breathing problems and allergies in sensitive individuals and severe health problems for persons with asthma.

Controlling the concentration of particulates can help relieve symptoms and prevent disease.