October is noted as Indoor Air Quality Awareness month. This is such an important topic so today 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. However, mold, mildew, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke, radon, dust, asbestos and other indoor air pollutants can make some days you spend inside miserable. Indoor air pollution is a high contributor to illnesses. These pollutants 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 can pollute the air as well. With cooler temps in the forecast, now is the perfect time to make sure your furnace is working properly, so that carbon monoxide is not an issue.


Remember too, that now is a good time to test the radon level in your home. We have short term radon test kits available for $6.50 at both the Hays and Great Bend offices. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind knowing the radon level in your home.


All of the windy days we have had lately can certainly create an uptick in allergy symptoms inside as well as outside. Let’s hope for some rain to settle the dust soon! But not too much rain at one time, because then the mold questions will start coming in!


Donna Krug is the District Director and Family and Consumer Science Agent for K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You may reach her at (620)793-1910 or dkrug@ksu.edu.