Indoor Air Quality – IAQ – And Associated Health Risks – 5 Things You Should Know
1) Indoor Air Quality Makes the EPA’s Top Three Highest Environmental Risk List
Have you ever wondered about the microorganisms that could be contaminating your air? Unquestionably, people today are unaware of the health risks associated with breathing unclean air. Bearing in mind that there are immeasurable causes for the development of pollutants in the air that you breathe at home, it is safe to say that people should be more concerned about the health risks of inhaling unsafe air. But just how severe can the effects be of regarding the air that you breathe? The EPA Science Advisory Board rated indoor air pollutants (except radon) as the third highest in their list of environmental risks, well ahead, of the exposure to chemicals in the occupational environment, which ranked six.
2) Uncirculated or Confined Air can be up to four times as harmful.
It is quite hard to decipher, as possible effects of poor quality air in the home range from minor allergic symptoms all the way to heart disease. Although the effects are not considered as Read More
3) Polluted Air Has Direct A Correlation With Various Diseases
Studies indicate that polluted air has a correlation with increased risk of various cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure. Studies also state that for people diagnosed with lung disease, diabetes, and, heart disease, the exposure to unclean air is a even greater cause for concern, as it only exacerbated each disease’s symptoms. The various chemicals found in unclean air, include but are not limited to carbon monoxide, nitrates, and sulfur dioxide. These chemicals are the main catalysts causing varying degrees of diseases. This is aside from the pollutants emitted from secondhand smoke, pets, molds, yeast, pollen and bacteria throughout the home.
4) Carbon Monoxide, A Dangerous Pollutant From Various Sources
. It should be noted that secondhand smoke itself is recognized as the number one cause of indoor air pollution. Again, this goes to show how important it is to provide ventilation or invest in an HCPH type air purifier. Carbon monoxide, as mentioned above, is also found in cigarette smoke, and has serious negative effects on the coronary system. Basically, as carbon monoxide is inhaled, it travels to the body’s bloodstream. As this occurs, oxygen levels in the blood are significantly reduced, leading to respiration diseases and infections. Even at low concentrations Carbon Monoxide will cause fatigue in healthy people. Taking into consideration that secondhand smoke creates a substantial risk to non-smokers, there is no doubt that its effects are not always recognized, let alone desired. Some other sources of Carbon Monoxide are gas stoves, gas ranges, unvented kerosene heaters or gas fireplaces, boilers, furnaces, automobile exhaust from attached garages as well as from gasoline machinery seeping in from outside.
5) Test Your Indoor Air Quality and Take Action
Since the particles in air are invisible to the naked eye, many people fail to realize just how many millions of molecules make up the air that is breathed every day. Air testing is quickly becoming a practice among health concerned Americans that want to know the quality of their indoor air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the number of airborne contaminants in the air inside homes far surpasses that of the air on a smoggy day. This is only one analogy that exemplifies how crucial it is to take action. Whether it is through proper air purification or simply providing a proper method of ventilation, there is no question that the pollutants found in unclean air are a major cause for concern.
What Most People Don’t Know About Air Fresheners
Air fresheners have seen an alarming surge in popularity over the past thirty years, but their fragrant effects may come along with some unsavory health effects. It might seem like there can’t be anything wrong with a product like air freshener sprays, candles and solids, considering the amount of advertising backing them. The problem is the same as that with many other commonly used products: insufficient testing. An ingredient that has not been tested to determine its toxicity is treated like a benign ingredient-the truth is that a little investigation may reveal some alarming information.
Recently a bit of attention was given to the ingredients in air fresheners, and though there has been nothing conclusive, it is looking bad for scented sprays, oils, candles and solids. Walgreens was so concerned by the initial findings that they’ve pulled their brand name air fresheners from the shelves.
Have you ever read the back of the labels on a can of aerosol air freshener?
Ethyl or Isopropyl Alcohol: causes flushing, headache, dizziness, Read More
Propellants (usually Butane, Isobutene or Propane): inhaling butane can cause drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia, cardiac arrhythmia and frostbite, which can result in instant death from Asphyxiation, Acute toxicity and ventricular fibrillation.
Pine Oil (comparable to turpentine in terms of toxicity): irritates the skin and mucous membranes and has been known to cause breathing problems. Large doses may cause central nervous system depression.
Limonene: an irritant and sensitizer, classified as dangerous for the environment.
Paradichlorobenzene (also called 1,4-Dichlorobenzene, p-DCB, etc): causes dizziness, headaches, and liver problems.
Formaldehyde: causes irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes; inhalation may cause headaches, a burning sensation in the throat, and difficulty breathing, as well as triggering or aggravating asthma symptoms.
Phthalates: causes damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and developing testes
This list represents just a few of the ingredients that are listed on the back of air fresheners (most of them remain nameless and hidden under the general header of “fragrance”. Some air fresheners contain oils that coat or impair your olfactory senses, so even if the smell remains, you won’t be able to tell.
The saddest aspect of this dilemma is that in an attempt to create a pleasant environment, consumers are exposing themselves to some potentially dangerous chemicals. Even the anti-microbial formulas that are advertised as good for homes with children contain anti-microbial ingredients that have been classified as “pesticides” by the EPA. Even fresheners labeled as “ALL NATURAL” contain the same toxic ingredients as other products that don’t make the same claim.
Another irony is that air fresheners are used to cover the indicators of bigger problems. Musty scents that would normally warn homeowners that they have a mounting mold infestation are masked with perfumes and other hazardous chemicals. The same applies for other smells associated with bacteria and other decomposing matter.
Keep in mind that the cleanest house can develop its own distasteful scents-but even if you have fallen short of Martha Stewart’s standards, there is still hope!
Eliminate odors-don’t cover them up:
In the Kitchen-in this part of the house, most unappetizing odors stem from rotting food.
- Wipe down all counter tops after preparing food-all you need is a small amount of dish detergent or white vinegar on your sponge.
- If you have food items like fruit stored on top of counter tops, check them regularly for any pieces that might be going bad.
- Your nose can help you track down the source of odors-it’s far better to remove the odor than mask it. Removing the offending food or food residue will prevent pests like fruit flies, cockroaches and ants from invading your home as well.
Trash Bins-it’s a smelly job, but someone has to do it.
- Typically trash should be taken out every other day-or everyday, depending on what was recently thrown away.
- If the trash bin itself is the source of the scent, simply wash out the bin with soap and water (usually it’s easiest to take it outside and use a garden hose). If the smell still won’t come out, try spritzing the bin with straight white vinegar and let it dry in the sun.
Bedrooms-some of the most overpowering smells are found in kids’ bedrooms.
- Use your nose to “seek and destroy” the sources of odors, which often are caused by dirty clothes, damp and mildewed towels, or spoiling food and snack items.
Pet Smells-animals are as sensitive to the chemicals in air fresheners as you are.
- Clean out litter boxes regularly, but if the litter box itself smells after you’ve filled it with fresh litter, try washing it with a pet safe odor neutralizer like those made by Natures Miracle.
- Wash all blankets, pillows, sofa covers and pet beds that your pet sleeps on. This will not only alleviate smells, but remove excess animal allergens and fur.
- Clean up pet accidents and treat the spot with a odor neutralizing spray made for pets or a mixture of white vinegar and water (do a spot test first to make sure that neither of these will strip the dye from your furniture, rug, etc.)
Whole-House Odors-musty scents, pet smells and other unpleasant aromas may signal bigger problems.
- Musty smells may clue you in to mold infestation. The main problem with mold is that the heavy scent of it is accompanied by spores, which can be very bad for your health. Investigate musty areas for mold. If a small amount is present, you may be able to clean it up yourself. To keep mold from returning, you may want to install a Biozone Air Purifier in your duct work so that any “live” spores are neutralized before they find a new place to sprout in your home. For larger areas, call a mold remediation company as soon as possible.
- Pet odors often indicate that the proteins that cause allergies are present. Pet dander contains this allergen protein, but so do pets’ saliva and urine. If you have allergies or asthma, you may want to consider using an air purifier along with your existing cleaning and medication regimen. Dynamic Air Quality Solutions makes two different free-standing purifiers that use HEPA filter to capture allergens as well as carbon to adsorb odors.
- Air Purifiers that use UV technology are often prescribed to neutralize strong odors, but air filters with carbon will also work to remove scents. If you have asthma, allergies or some other respiratory condition, your first choice should be a HEPA/carbon filter like those made by Dynamic Air Quality Solutions so that you aren’t simply removing odor, but allergens as well.
Indoor Air Pollution and How to Deal With it
Indoor air pollution – is it a problem? Everyone knows about air pollution affecting urban
areas and industrial regions. Mexico City and Southeast Asia have hit the headlines. But
wherever there are cities and industry there is pollution, from industrial effluents and the
But indoors? The fact is that indoor air can be one hundred times more polluted than
outdoor air. As the majority of people spend up to 90% of their time indoors, this is a
cause for concern.
“Sick building syndrome” is a phenomenon which emerged in the 1970s when, to conserve
energy as well as to provide a more comfortable draught-free environment, many naturally
ventilated buildings were Read More
nosebleeds, dizziness and respiratory problems.
What are the sources of indoor air pollution?
Tobacco smoke is a major culprit, with its lethal cocktail of toxic chemicals. Insulation, synthetic fabrics, treated wood and carpets, especially when new, release potentially harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde, into the air. When this air is recycled indefinitely, high concentration levels can be reached. Printers and copiers emit toxic gases. Then there are chemicals used in the manufacture of
computers, especially those added to VDUs as fire retardants, which emit high levels of
pollutants when new. Even cleaning solvents make their contribution to the pollution. In
some cases, prolonged exposure to this mixture can cause chemical sensitivities which may be
difficult to cure.
How can indoor air pollution be dealt with?
Potted plants can improve room air quality. They reduce levels of carbon dioxide and increase oxygen levels. Among the most effective are spider plants, rubber plants and yucca. Plants can even be used to monitor pollution. Plants can wither from pollutants before people start to sicken from them.
Regular maintenance of air conditioning systems is essential in centrally-controlled air
conditioned buildings. This should include coil, fins and filters for the equipment to
function effectively. The most important maintenance task is cleaning or replacement of
filters. Not only do clogged, dirty filters block normal air flow, but also can directly
reduce the effective working life of the equipment. Not to be overlooked is the correct
installation of air-conditioning systems in the first place. Air intake ducts need to be
properly located. If they are placed in polluted areas, the system will actually bring
polluted air into the building.