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Airborne toxins can be avoided; weight is just one way to measure fitness

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Pollution

Defend yourself against airborne toxins

Men’s Health

Dust mites mating in your bed. Mold growing in the damp, dark corners of your basement. Radon seeping through cracks in your home’s foundation. The list of common household threats and their effects — including lung damage, impaired memory, increased cancer risk, weakened sperm in men, and death — is downright scary. The summer issue of Men’s Health breaks down some of the most common contaminants and explains how you can limit your exposure. For example, dust mites can cause sneezing, watery eyes and, over time, narrowed arteries in the lungs. To beat them, the magazine advises using a mite-proof mattress case, washing sheets in hot water, vacuuming or steam-cleaning carpets and running an air purifier. Mold, whose effects range from wheezing to lung infection, will require a rough scrub with bleach. (Make sure to use gloves and a respirator mask.) The magazine also offers tips on dealing with such gases as carbon monoxide and radon, outdoor pollution and various chemical and organic compounds found in cleansers and beauty products. And bacon fans, watch out: Nitrates, added to cured meats such as bacon to preserve color and freshness, can cause cell damage in the lungs.

Weight Loss

Fit or fat? Step off
the scale to find out.

Self

The August issue of Self spells out alternatives to the traditional, sometimes tortuous, habit of stepping on the scale. “Those digits can deceive, making you feel pudgy when you’re not or giving you false slim-security,” according to the magazine. Instead of counting your lbs down to the tenth, Self suggests using body mass index, which considers your weight relative to your height, or body fat percentage to figure out how fit or fat you are. Stumped on which to choose? The magazine has a quiz to help you figure it out. Questions include: Do you work out regularly? Are you thin but have no muscle tone? Are you overweight? Do you have Madonna-like muscles? While they’re not exactly scientific, the questions are designed to help readers figure out if they should pony up for a body fat test (some methods can cost more than $100) or if BMI (which you can calculate for free at Self.com) is a sufficient measure.

— Maggie Fazeli Fard

© The Washington Post Company