Beware of air pollution from household cleaners

Household cleaners often contain powerful chemicals. So it's no surprise they're a leading contributor to indoor air pollution, especially in the winter when all the doors and windows are closed.

"We're certainly not against keeping thing clean. We urge people not to be obsessive about their cleaning and not to worry that they have to have the most powerful cleaner in the world," says Dr. John Swartzberg, who heads the editorial board at the U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter. "Many things will work."

He says you need good ventilation to keep it safe.

Run the exhaust in the kitchen or bathroom and open a few windows if possible. This will help dilute the volatile chemicals in the air.

"Don't forget that plain soap and water or water with a vinegar solution or baking soda can often do the job just as well. You don't need the dozens and dozens of chemicals in the cleaners," says Swartzberg.

He says aerosols and pump sprays tend to put breathable particles in the air. You might want to wear a disposable mask when using them.

If you have a choice, avoid cleaners with a fragrance which are often terpenes which can form hazardous compounds such as formaldehyde.