ACOEM Checklist Addresses Indoor Environmental Hazards

The checklist focuses on household environmental hazards such as tobacco smoke, radon, asbestos, lead, combustion gases, water pollution, household chemicals and pesticides, allergens, and food poisoning.

With more and more people spending a good portion of their day inside—whether at home, school, and/or in the workplace—it is important to recognize that indoor environments may contain a number of hazards. However, many of these hazards can easily be eliminated and/or controlled. To address these issues, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has re-released its checklist of “Ten Environmental Hazards You Can Live Without.”

“ACOEM’s environmental checklist provides 10 practical steps that all of us can take to improve the quality of our indoor environment,” said Robert K. McLellan, M.D., author of the checklist. “Earth Day reminds us of an ancient wisdom—people are inextricably linked with their environment,” he said. “The environment does not stop at the walls of our homes and buildings.”

The checklist focuses on household environmental hazards such as tobacco smoke, radon, asbestos, lead, combustion gases, water pollution, household chemicals and pesticides, allergens, and food poisoning. It provides tips on how to avoid and/or control these hazards in the home and includes recommendations and helpful resources from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, among others.

  • Tobacco smoke -- no smoking at home. Long-term exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke increases risks for lung cancer, respiratory infections, other lung problems, and perhaps heart disease.
  • Radon – test your house. Radon, an odorless invisible gas, increases the risk of lung cancer, especially for smokers.
  • Asbestos – leave it alone. Asbestos was commonly used as a building and insulation material in houses built from 1920 to 1978. Exposure to small amounts of asbestos is unlikely to cause problems, but breathing high levels increases risks of cancer and lung disease.
  • Lead – identify and avoid it. Many U.S. homes built before 1978 contain lead paint which contributes to the more than 1,000,000 American children who suffer lead poisoning each year.
  • Combustion gases – exhaust them. Combustion gases include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. These gases can cause flu-like symptoms, respiratory illnesses, or death.
  • Water pollution – know what you are drinking. Americans benefit from one of the safest water supplies in the world, but problems have occurred from time to time. Consumers can take a few extra measures to ensure their tap water is clean.
  • Household chemicals – select, use, store, and discard wisely. Some household products may be hazardous if used incorrectly. Choose the least dangerous chemical for the job. Consult your local library or bookstore for the many books on this topic.
  • Pesticides – use properly to reduce risks. Maintain gardens, lawns, and trees in ways that naturally decrease susceptibility to pests, and minimize or eliminate the need for chemical pesticides.
  • Allergens – avoid and control. Porous, water-damaged materials frequently grow molds and other organisms that can cause allergies and other illnesses.
  • Food poisoning – prepare and store food correctly. Proper preparation and storage of food are necessary to prevent food poisoning.

Click here to read the full checklist.

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