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How to breathe easier at home

How's the atmosphere in your home? We're not talking about the mood or décor – we're talking about the air, literally.

You probably don't think much about the air around you, but you spend hours breathing it every day, and it can be full of stuff you don't want in your lungs.

"Sometimes people overlook indoor air pollutants, which in some ways are very similar to outdoor air pollutants," said Hsin-Neng Hsieh, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has published data saying that pollution in our buildings is two to five times greater than outdoors," said Daniel Kopec, an architect in Glen Ridge who teaches building systems and technology at the institute. "We're spending 90 percent of our time in buildings, so it's a huge problem."

With those warnings in mind, here are seven things you can do to breathe easier inside your four walls:

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Test for Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soil, rock and water. It's the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, and it is implicated in about 21,000 deaths a year, including 2,900 among people who have never smoked.

Hsieh recommends checking the radon-hazard map on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's website: njradon.org/radonin.htm. Many Bergen and Passaic towns are listed at moderate risk. If you live in the hazard zone, get your home tested by a licensed radon tester.

If there's a problem, it can be remediated by a licensed company, which will install a pipe that vents the radon from the ground under the house's slab.

The state certifies testing and remediation companies; check njradon.org for more information.

Read the full article online: http://www.northjersey.com/news/how-to-breathe-easier-at-home-1.1003837