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Eliminating pollutants from your home

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By Beth Luberecki
Special to Express
Thursday, November 26, 2009

Think your home is less polluted than a city street? Think again.

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend on average about 90 percent or more of their time indoors, where pollutant levels may be two to five times -- and occasionally more than 100 times -- as high as the levels outdoors.

If that grosses you out, you're not alone. In June, acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson issued "The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes," a document whose aim is to start a dialogue about how our homes affect our well-being.

Expect Glenn Fellman to participate in that discussion. As the executive director of the Rockville-based Indoor Air Quality Association and Indoor Environmental Standards Organization, Fellman has 20 years of experience addressing environmental concerns in homes. He knows all about the allergens, pollutants and other things that can make your nose itch, eyes water and head hurt. He also knows how to keep them out of your house.

We asked Fellman for tips on breathing easier at home, and we found products to help you enjoy the great indoors even more.

PRACTICE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

That means washing sheets and towels once a week, dusting with a damp cloth or other material that collects -- not disperses -- debris and using sanitizers to kill germs in kitchens and bathrooms, Fellman says. And, ideally, you should pull out the (high-efficiency, please) vacuum twice a week.

That chore has become more stylish, thanks to the new Electrolux Versatility vacuum ($300), which boasts an anti-odor HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration system and comes in shades such as amethyst and lime green. Find it at retailers such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Lowe's.

CLEAR THE AIR

The filters in your HVAC system are designed to keep the system clean, not to clean the air in your home, says Fellman. If you think your home requires air cleaning, he recommends investing in an air cleaner. But do your homework before you buy. "Air cleaners that produce ozone, even as a byproduct, should be avoided," he says. Look for an air cleaner that incorporates a HEPA filter to remove fine particulates from the air, he says. And make sure it is the right size for the room it's in.

IQAir's HealthPro Plus room air purifier ($939) has received top reviews from publications such as Wired magazine and Consumers Digest for its ability to eliminate pollen, odor-causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and more from the air. As a preferred dealer, Brothers Sew & Vac in Bethesda always has the product in stock and offers free demonstrations.

DRY OFF


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