Most people have heard about indoor (as in, the inside of their front door) air–pollution. Concern about it generally ranks fairly lowly because homeowners don't think it's much of a problem, they feel there's little they can do about it, or both.

The first assumption might be wrong in some cases, but the second–that there's nothing that can be done–is absolutely wrong.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, where they are exposed to far greater air-pollution risks than they are when strolling outdoors. Generally, the EPA says, indoor air is four or five times more polluted than outdoor air. It has found some household air samples to be 100 times more polluted.

The irony is that increasing energy efficiency of U.S. homes has created this problem, which makes sense when you think about it. The more effective a home is at sealing off the outside environment, the more likely it is to seal in unwanted indoor pollutants.

What causes good air to go bad?

A whole host of factors play a role. The list includes (but is far from limited to dust, animal hair and dander, mold spores, bacteria; smoke; pollen, dust mites, lint, and cooking grease. And these bad elements exist to a degree in even the cleanest homes. A typical 3,000–square–foot house, for example, generates 80 pounds of dust.

Cigarette smoke, of course, is one of the most damaging sources of indoor air pollution, containing about 4,000 chemical compounds, more than 40 of which are known to cause cancer in humans, the EPA says. So, rule No. 1: Don't smoke or allow others to do so in your home.

Fireplaces pollute homes, and so do solvents used in cleaning and hobby activities, paint strippers used for redecorating activities, cleaning products, and pesticides. High–pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods.

Then there's most people's favorite, pollen. Insects transport a lot of pollen, but for some species of trees, wind is actually a more common distributor.
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