NOVEMBER 12, 2019 BY 

From the Steamboat Pilot & Today | November 11, 2019

By Suzie Romig

Now that the weather has turned colder, and Yampa Valley doors and windows are closed up for the season, it is even more important to pay attention to healthy homes guidelines for safety and good indoor air quality. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality can be up to five times worse than outdoor air quality.

Keeping a home healthy includes seven key principles: keep your home contaminant free, clean, dry, pest free, well ventilated, well maintained and safe. Experts say people can spend some 90% of their time indoors, so poor indoor air quality poses one of the greatest environmental and health risks.

“The good news is we have great control in our homes, and there are low-cost or no-cost solutions to most healthy home problems,” said Selina Lujan, Healthy Homes program manager at the city of Fort Collins.

Nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council has received grant funding to help 11 income-qualified families with both healthy home and energy assessments and some related improvements in Routt and Moffat counties. Eligible families can earn up to 80% of area median income. Email to apply.

Keeping your home safe ranks first on healthy homes checklists, such as regularly checking smoke detectors on every floor. For homes with gas appliances or attached garages, install a carbon monoxide detector 15 feet from every sleeping area. Never store any chemicals, paints or flammable substances in areas where there is heat, flame, pilot lights or gas appliances, such as in water heater or HVAC closets.

Keep your home contaminant free to avoid substances that can make your family sick, so test for high levels of radon with an inexpensive kit available through the Colorado State University Extension Office. Funding to reduce radon is available for homeowners through the state’s Low-Income Radon Mitigation Assistance program at

Avoid spending money on harmful cleaning products labeled as “hazardous,” “danger” or “poison.” Use simple nontoxic cleaning alternatives, ranging from vinegar to baking soda.

Families should avoid pesticides and purchase low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, stains and sealants. And, don’t let anyone smoke inside your home. In addition, healthy air means eliminating chemical air fresheners as our lungs cannot always filter out those fine particles that come in aerosolized products.

“The chemical products that we normally use in our homes can have adverse effects on our health, either short term or long term, and can affect our lungs, our neurological system and potentially, get into our blood stream,” Lujan noted.

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Suzie Romig is the energy outreach director for Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.