Keep Your Home Healthy This Winter

Habits for a Healthy House

Run your ranges vented hood every time you cook so that you eliminate steam, smoke, food particles, and the carbon monoxide created by gas cooktops and burned food on any kind of stove, says Dr. Jordan Fink, Otherwise, those particles become indoor air pollution that your family will be inhaling for hours.

"Use the high fan setting when you can put up with the din," he says. "And when possible, cook on the back burners, which tend to draft more effectively up into the hood."

If your hood blows air into the room, it's just filtering out grease before dumping other pollutants into your living space. To carry the exhaust outside, consider installing a vent, which will likely cost $500 to $1,500.

Never warm up your car in the garage. Even with the doors open, there's a chance the deadly carbon monoxide could linger in the garage and even spread into the house if it's attached.

Wait until spring to paint or to buy furniture, upholstery, or carpeting. These products, especially when they're new, release volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, acetone, toluene, and benzene. It's better to place them in your home when you can open the windows to ventilate. Or buy products with no-VOC certification from Greenguard or Green Seal. And never use air-freshening sprays.

"They're the most common cause of high VOCs in houses," says Dr. Jay Portnoy.

Always turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom (even if the noise is annoying), or hire an electrician to install a fan if you don't have one. Without a fan, moisture will condense on cold surfaces, including those hidden in the walls, fostering mold growth. Check that the fan is venting to the exterior, not the attic. If moisture winds up in the attic, so will mold. A handyman can add a duct for under $300.


More from Prevention:

10 Strange, New Suspects That Could Cause Breast Cancer

The Laundry Mistake You're Making

20 Natural Home Remedies For Health Woes

10 Worst Germ Hot Spots

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