Approximately 90 percent of Americans are unaware that their home may harbor chemicals — indoor air pollutants — that can lead to lung cancer and increase heart failure. The American Lung Association reports an estimated 42.6 million Americans currently live with hay fever and/or asthma, with some cases attributed to poor environmental quality and air pollution. While the average American inhales and exhales seven to eight liters of air per minute, breathing air in polluted metro cities like Los Angeles or Riverside in California can reduce life expectancy by two to three years. An air quality index (AQI) is put in place to monitor daily air quality based on how clean or unhealthy the air is in a particular environment. AQI runs from zero to 500 — the higher the AQI value, the higher the level of air pollution, and the greater the health risk. An AQI value of 100 complies with national air quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to safeguard the public from air pollutants.

Recent research has indicated that even the EPA safe levels of air pollution can have serious consequences on a person's health. In two studies published in the Lancet Oncology Journal, researchers examined an individual's exposure to air pollutants from traffic and industry. In the first study, researchers evaluated a compilation of data from 17 studies in nine European countries to assess air pollution through models that monitored land use. Researchers found a correlation between the risk of lung cancer with environmental health hazards — particulate matter air pollutants are considered to be risk factors for developing lung cancer in Europe. In the second study, researchers looked at hospital admission for heart failure in several countries, including the United States. This study affirmed that short-term exposure to air pollutants increases the risk of being hospitalized with heart failure and worsening of the condition.

"The association between particulate matter air pollution and the risk for lung cancer persisted also at concentrations below the existing European Union air quality limit values," Dr. Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, of the Danish Cancer Society Research Center, and the researchers of the studies, concluded. As acceptable air pollution limits are now being considered extremely high for the public, children are also at risk. Children breathe in 50 percent more air pound-for-pound than adults, and also spend more time outdoors, which increases their risk of exposure to outdoor air pollutants, says the Clean Air Task Force (CATF). Not only are outdoor air pollutants harmful but indoor air quality can be two to five times worse, or even 100 times worse. Air pollutants contribute to lung disease, respiratory infections, asthma and lung cancer, says the American Lung Association.

Whether you and your family live in an urban city or a rural town, indoor air pollution is a common problem along with outdoor air pollution. To reduce air pollutants in your home and in your city, follow these tips that can help you and your family live a healthier life.

Conserve Energy

Saving energy at home is one of the easiest ways to reduce air pollution. It is important to turn off all appliances and lights if there is no one in the room. Less energy use means less carbon dioxide emission from power plants that help produce energy. Opting to buy Energy Star products will not only use less energy, but save you money while you reduce air pollutants inside your home. These products will ensure that fossil fuels aren't burned as much, which results in less pollution in the air.

Wash Clothes With Warm or Cold Water

Washing your clothes with warm or cold water instead of hot water, will help you save energy. Approximately 90 percent of the energy washing machines use is for heating the water, says Instead of hot water you can use warm water for two loads of laundry a week which will save 500 pounds of air pollution. A rule of thumb is to always use cold water when your clothes are on the rinse cycle.

Check Your Home For Radon

Radon — considered a risk factor for lung cancer — can be in your own home, says Mayo Clinic. This highly dangerous radioactive gas is odorless and tasteless and comes from the ground. The only way to know if your house has radon is to do an inexpensive test that is quick and easy and only takes a few minutes of your time. The EPA provides a short-term testing and a long-term testing way to check for radon on their website.

Smoke Outside The Home

Smoking outside the home instead of indoors can prevent 65 percent of asthma cases among elementary school students, says the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Secondhand smoke is detrimental to children's health and can lead to a series of illnesses such as asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. A smoke-free home will help you and your family live longer.

Refuel In The Evening

Filling your car's gas tank in the evening can cut down evaporation emissions that can reduce outside air pollutants. The EPA advises drivers to not refuel their cars during Ozone Action Days as cars and trucks account for a third of air pollution in the country.

Reduce Long Lines

The convenience of a drive-thru could put your health in danger. Waiting on long lines with your car turned on will further increase air pollution. The reduction of dust and exhaust in the air will help you breathe a little easier and you can get some good cardio getting out of your car and walking to your designated location.

Car Pool

Less cars on the road means less air pollutants coming from a car's tailpipe. Carpooling can reduce the amount of hydrocarbons, nitrogen, oxides, carbon monoxidem, and carbon dioxide, says Florida's Department of Air Resources Management. The number of miles driven and the number of trips taken greatly affects the air quality.

Source: Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Zorana J Andersen, Rob Beelen, et. al. Air pollution and lung cancer incidence in 17 European cohorts: prospective analyses from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE).The Lancet Oncology. 2013.