drdiy

Indoor Air

In Indoor Air Quality on March 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm

To all my followers: Please pass along my blog address to all your friends and family. I’d appreciate it!

Have you been suffering from:
•    Insomnia
•    Allergies
•    Colds
•    Headaches
•    Fatigue
•    Lack of concentration
•    Asthma
•    All of the above

Research has found that many health related problems are directly related to the air in our homes. Back in the 1970’s we started caulking, insulating and sealing up our houses to save energy (read that as “save money”). Our old drafty homes may have been expensive to heat but the infiltrating air made the air indoors cleaner and safer.

Add to the equation that each household uses a lot more cleaning products and chemicals than we did back then. The majority of these products contain what is now referred to as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s. VOC’s are the off gassing of chemicals in items such as cleaning products, draperies, furniture, paints, pesticides, repellants, bleach, cologne and aerosol sprays. It’s a wonder we aren’t gasping for breath at home.

Other sources of indoor air problems are carpeting, bedding, refrigerator drip pans, dirty air conditioning coils, HVAC filters, ductwork, too much humidity, as well as pets and bathrooms without exhaust fans. Keep in mind this is only a partial list.

What can we do to make the air in our homes safer to breathe?
•    Change the furnace/AC filters frequently.
•    Have your ductwork cleaned.
•    Properly maintain humidifiers. That means cleaning them periodically.
•    Repair any and all leaks. I.e. roof, flashing, basement and plumbing.
•    Clean refrigerator coils and drip pan according to the manufacturer’s requirements.
•    Install and use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans that vent to the outdoors. Exhaust fans that just circulate the air    do very little to clean it.
•    Make sure the attic is well ventilated.
•    If you have a crawl space, install a 6-mil vapor retarder on the ground of the entire crawl.
•    Insulate all cold water pipes to reduce condensation.
•    Vacuum carpeting frequently and replace the cleaner bag as needed.
•    Remove and properly dispose of all household paints, cleaners, chemicals and strippers.
•    Make sure the dryer is vented to the outdoors. Clean the screen after each use. Periodically clean the dryer exhaust vent pipe.
•    Keep pets clean.
•    Control humidity so moisture does not collect on windows or cold walls in the winter.
•    Install an air-to-air heat exchanger for your furnace.
•    Have your furnace or boiler inspected annually and install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the house.
•    Do not store firewood indoors.
•    When you install new carpeting, keep the windows open to ventilate the room.
•    Do not smoke or allow smoking in the house.
•    Clean your house frequently and thoroughly.
•    Have the house tested for radon and mold.
•    If your house is over 30 years old, have it tested for asbestos and lead.
•    Purchase low VOC products only.

Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that exists everywhere. The problem with radon occurs only in our houses. It attaches itself to the air, which we inhale. It contributes to between 20 and 30,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Radon mitigation usually costs under $1000.00.

Asbestos was ubiquitous. Thousands of products in our daily lives contain asbestos. A few include ductwork, brake linings, drapes, gaskets, insulation in attics, pipe wraps, boilers, ceiling and floor tiles, roofing, siding and the list goes on. Asbestos was banned and was no longer installed beginning in 1972. The problem is that it exists in our daily lives. Michigan ranks twelfth in the nation in asbestos related deaths.

Mold is also everywhere. There are tens of thousands of molds. There are probably 1000 different molds in our homes but only a handful are toxic. But everyone’s tolerance is different so we have differing reactions to mold exposure. If in doubt, have an environmental company do an indoor air mold test.

Lead-based paint was banned in 1978. Lead is especially hazardous to small children and infants. If your house is over 30 years old and/or you are planning on doing remodeling or paint scraping/sanding, you should have the walls and woodwork tested.

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