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57 Ways To Protect Your Home Environment (and Yourself)
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45. Reduce Pollution From Combustion Equipment

combustion byproducts

Some combustion appliances, such as gas ranges and unvented space heaters, discharge combustion products directly into the living area. Combustion byproducts can include strong irritants such as: sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen; unburned fuel; carbon (soot); carbon monoxide; formaldehyde; PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons); and fine suspended particles (smoke). These products are harmful, but the severity of problems they cause depends on their concentrations in the air and how long you’re exposed to them. Low levels of carbon monoxide can cause headaches, weakness, dizziness, and nausea; greater concentrations can kill.
carbon monoxide detector

But before you get alarmed, keep in mind that routine maintenance and some simple precautions, such as a carbon monoxide detector, will minimize the chances that indoor pollution problems will become serious.

Problems arise when the chimney or flue becomes blocked, so inspect the chimney at the beginning of each heating season. If the chimney is relatively straight, the inspection can be done by inserting a small mirror in the chimney’s clean-out door. Look for a clear path to the top of the chimney.
metal flue pipe

Also, look for rust, holes, or weak spots in the metal flue pipe that connects the appliance to the chimney. These pipes eventually corrode, and if they collapse, the house can rapidly fill with deadly gas.
furnace room

Combustion equipment needs an adequate air supply, so furnace rooms should not be too tightly sealed. If the furnace room has a door, a 1- to 2-inch undercut along the bottom can help to provide needed air.

wood stove
Avoid slow-burning, smoldering fires, which produce the largest amount of pollutants. Seasoned wood burns cleaner than green wood. Also, wood stoves sold after 1990 are required to meet federal emission standards, so they should be more efficient and cleaner-burning.
fule-fired space heater Don’t operate a fuel-fired space heater in an enclosed space, such as a closed room. Use the proper fuel in kerosene heaters–low-sulfur, K1 fuel.

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