Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | January 3, 2014

Start the New Year Fresh! Clean Air Quality Makes A Difference.

Print   With crisp winter air afloat, take a deep breath- it’s time for the New Year!  After spending time with family and friends amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparation, it’s time to relax and start fulfilling our New Year’s resolutions.  While it isn’t quite the time for spring cleaning, there are a few important things to think about.  Our indoor air quality affects our health when we are in our homes and business offices.

  Good Air Quality is also an important factor in workplace safety and productivity.  The Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Health and Safety Department, report that indoor air quality can be up to seventy times more polluted than outside air.  Breathing in buildings with stale polluted air can cause “Sick Building Syndrome.”  The syndrome is associated with acute health and discomfort affecting an individual experiences when present in a particular building.

Sick Building

Symptoms include cough, chest tightness, dizziness, nausea, muscle aches, fatigue and poor concentration not associated with a known illness.   Known contributors to indoor air pollution include: mold, carbon monoxide, lead, inadequate ventilation, pesticides, carpeting, and indoor cleaning agents.

Here are some contaminants to watch out for and ways to better ventilate your home.

  Mold – grows on wet or damp surfaces. Symptoms: musty smell, watery eyes and runny nose, sneezes, trouble breathing, headaches and fatigue.

Ideal humidity in a home is between thirty and fifty percent according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  High humidity invites bacteria and molds to grow between wall surfaces, beneath carpets, or in roofing (October 2013 LA Times).  To prevent mold growth regularly clean out rain gutters, repair leaky home areas, and do not leave stagnant water in any part of the home.  Use ventilation fans for your kitchen stove or bathroom to prevent humidity levels from reaching above fifty percent.  Lastly, keep in-home temperatures between sixty-eight and seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit.

  Carbon Monoxide– is translucent and neutral in smell. Symptoms: carbon monoxide can be potentially fatal.  It causes sleeplessness, headaches, dizziness, and vomiting often confused with the flu.

Installing carbon monoxide alarms around your sleeping areas in the home can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.  Carbon Monoxide sources include the kitchen stove, charcoal grills, or machines running on gasoline such as lawn mowers or leaf blowers.  To avoid carbon monoxide build up never use the stove to heat your house and start gas powered machines in open areas (outdoors rather than inside of the garage).

  Lead is a serious risk for children.  Symptoms: headaches, anemia, seizures, high blood pressure, developmental delays in children including brain and nervous dysfunction.  Children may also exhibit behavioral and learning problems.

Houses build before 1950 are the most problematic because lead paint was not banned until 1978.  Make sure paint is not chipping or cracking on the wall or near frequently used areas.  Check for lead pipes (dull gray and scratch easily) and pipes joined by lead solder.  Water flowing through them may contain lead (October 2013 LA Times).  Most hardware stores carry reasonably priced lead testing kits for your home.  Make sure to hire a contractor to replace lead pipelines, as removing it incorrectly can exacerbate the amount of lead in your environment.

  Ventilation – The University of Rochester reports that proper ventilation of your home can greatly improve air quality. HVAC (high voltage alternating current) systems are responsible for ventilating home and buildings. Regular maintenance and appropriate use of HVAC systems keep indoor air quality healthy.

Start your New Year Resolutions by taking these steps to keep your family and employees safe.  January Start


For more information:

Environmental Protection Agency:

Healthy Indoor Air for American Homes:

Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Home Healthy Homes:

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