How Important Is Indoor Air Quality?
- Mold: 4 Common Questions!
- Renovating? Be Aware Of Mold!
- How To Select A Mold Removal Contractor?
- What Is Black Mold?
- Is There Mold Hidden In Your Home?
- Ten Things You Should Know about Mold!
- Mold Spores: A Tough To Avoid Asthma Trigger!
- Chronic Sinus Problems Can Be Caused by Mold!
- If Your Basement Smells Bad, You Could Have A Mold Problem!
- Indoor Air Quality In Schools Is A Serious Concern!
- Why Does Mold Grow In My Attic?
- 3 Reasons Not To Use Bleach To Get Rid of Mold!
- The Mold Genes: What You Need To Know!
- What Happens During A Professional Mold Inspection?
- The 8 Step Process Professional Mold Remediators Follow!
- Top 10 Mold Prevention Tips!
One of the problems caused by mold is that it can impact the quality of the air you breath, which in turn, could impact your health.
Mold, however, is not the only source of indoor air pollution that can cause indoor air quality issues.
The purpose of this article is to explore the topic of indoor air quality further by:
- Explaining what causes poor indoor air quality;
- How you can determine if it is making you sick; and
- What you can do to fix the problem.
Included in this article is a bonus section about Christmas Tree Syndrome, which is one of the reasons that 1 in 3 people suffer hay fever like symptoms soon after putting up their tree.
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10 Indoor Air Quality Facts and Stats You Need To Know!
Most people are unaware that their indoor air could be polluted. This is a topic of particular importance because we spend more time indoors during the winter months. In fact, we spend 90% of our time indoors, relying on our HVAC systems to create a constant stream of healthy air.
According to the EPA:
- Indoor air quality is one of the top environmental risks to public health.
- 60% of all homes and buildings have poor air quality.
- Pollution indoors is approximately 2 to 5 times worse than outdoors.
- 1 out of 10 Americans never change the filters on their heating and air conditioning units.
- Particulate matter in indoor pollution inflames the airways and lungs, causing allergic reactions and impairs breathing.
- Babies inhale the equivalent of four cigarettes a day crawling on the floor because they are inhaling chemicals from carpets, mildew, fungi, dust mites, and mold.
- 80% of Americans are exposed to indoor allergens, including dust mites and pet dander that causes allergic reactions.
- About 1 million people in the world die each year from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by poor indoor air quality.
- About 2 million people in the world die each year from illnesses attributable to indoor air quality.
- Nearly 3 billion people in the world are at risk because of indoor air pollution.
Your health is dependent on the the quality of the air you breathe.
Indoor air pollution is not visible to the naked eye, meaning the quality of your air could be making you sick without you even knowing it.
Despite your efforts to maintain a clean and healthy household, you still may be getting sick because of indoor pollutants.
Top 10 Causes Of Contaminated Indoor Air!
Contaminated air can seep in from the outside or could be caused by indoor sources like construction materials, consumer products, mold, insects, and pets. The effect of pollutants is compounded by poor ventilation which allows pollutants to accumulate to unhealthy levels.
Poor indoor air quality in your home or business could also be caused by factors such as the building design, heating/cooling design, and/or previous water damage.
Other potential causes of poor indoor air quality include the following:
- High humidity levels.
- Airborne dust problems from poorly maintained ducts or other sources in the building.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) which are chemicals released by building materials and furniture.
- Inadequate ventilation caused by mechanical or building issues.
- Combustion problems leading to high levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO) or Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
- Sewer gas leakages, leading to odors.
- Recurring water damage, causing growth of mold and other bacteria.
- Radon, the second highest cause of lung cancer, most likely seeping through the foundation in your basement.
- Radioactive marble or granite in the home.
- Air borne asbestos, a cause of mesothelioma.
Health Issues Caused By Poor Indoor Air Quality!
Our bodies are designed to rid ourselves of toxins and pollutants, this is one of the reasons that we get sick and experience colds and flus.
However, if you or other’s in your family always seem to be sick, the air you are breathing could be the cause.
Do you consistently have these health issues?
- Respiratory issues such as asthma, sinusitis, and other respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia;
- Excessive coughing and/or a breathless feeling;
- Dizziness, confusion, malaise, trouble concentrating, and other cognitive disorders;
- Skin irritation, itchiness, and rashes;
- Ear and/or eye infections
If you consistently experience these symptoms, the air you are breathing could be the cause.
A simple test is to record how you feel when you are away from your home or business. If you feel sick when you are in your home or business, but feel much better when you are away, then this could be a clue that the air is making you sick.
What Should I Do To Improve Indoor Air Quality?
If you are concerned that your property is causing health concerns, then here are some actions that CEO of Wonder Makers, Michael Pinto, recommends you can take to improve the indoor air quality in your home or business:
- Do a thorough house cleaning. Properly identify and dispose of containers of old chemicals, pesticides, paints, fuels, deodorants, firewood, scrap lumber, and other materials that could harbor biological growth or become a source of chemical contaminants.
- Identify and correct all water intrusion problems. As we have written about before, the primary cause of mold issues is moisture and water. To prevent mold, you need to check the home for leaks in the roof, pipes, under appliances, etc. Exterior water intrusion can be caused by seepage, dirty eaves, downspouts directing water towards the home, etc. Goal is to prevent moisture from entering the home. If you live in an area prone to floods and sewer back ups, install a sump pump.
- Check appliances for proper functioning. Furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, water heaters, and other appliances, particularly gas or propane fired appliances, should be checked on a regular basis by a trained professional. These checks should include measurements for carbon monoxide and natural gas/propane to minimize the chance of explosion or asphyxiation. Install carbon monoxide detectors for extra peace of mind.
- Improve filtration on furnace and air conditioning systems. Use pleated paper filters, combination paper and charcoal filters, or install an electronic air filter to dramatically improve air quality. Improved filtration will not only stop particulate matters such as mold, dust, fibers, etc. but will also trap the bacteria and viruses that “hitch a ride” on such particles as they make their way through the air.
- Replace standard vacuums with high efficiency filtration models. Many vacuum manufacturers now have models that have HEPA filters. These high efficiency filters trap the finest dust particles that normally are propelled out of a bag or canister style vacuum after the heavy debris is deposited inside.
- Consider having your ductwork cleaned. The ductwork is the circulatory system for the home’s air. In new homes the ducts are often contaminated with debris from the construction process while older homes could suffer from buildup of contaminants over time.
- Utilize portable room air cleaners for individuals that have asthmatic symptoms or significant allergies. The use of room air cleaners, particularly in the bedroom, can create a zone of relief for individuals that are sensitive to indoor and outdoor pollutants. Eight to ten hours of exposure to clean air in the bedroom is often enough time for many people’s bodies to recover from the assaults that occur outside, in school, or in the workplace.
- Consider a professional inspection if symptoms persist and do-it-yourself measures are unsuccessful. The easiest way to determine if the air you are breathing is making you sick is to call an indoor air quality specialist to test the air. Indoor air quality professionals have specialized equipment that can test the air for radon, mold spores, and other pollutants. If the tests show mold or other contaminants are in the air, take steps to deal with the sources of contamination.
What Is Christmas Tree Syndrome?
Decorating and putting up a Christmas tree is a holiday tradition. But are you aware that your Xmas tree could be a source of mold.
A newspaper article was published to explain the potential health concerns caused by your Christmas tree: “Seasonal sniffles: Christmas Tree Syndrome“
The article dubbed the illness Christmas Tree Syndrome because 1 in 3 (approximately 35 percent) people get sick, suffering from hay fever like symptoms soon after the Christmas tree is set up in the home.
The core cause of Christmas Tree Syndrome is mold, which releases spores and causes allergic reactions:
Researchers at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut, found that a room containing a fresh Christmas tree for two weeks had mold levels that were five times the normal level. Other studies have shown that levels this high can cause allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms, says the study’s coauthor, allergist and immunologist Philip Hemmers. (A fresh Christmas tree for two weeks had mold levels that were five times the normal level)
In another study Dr. John Santilli, compared the level of mold spores in the home before and after the tree was placed in the home. The normal level of mold spores is 800 per cubic meter, but within 14 days of the Christmas tree being in the home, the level of mold spores increased to 5,000 spores per cubic meter.
Another scientific study by allergy specialist, Dr. Lawrence Kurlandsky at Upstate Medical University in New York set out to determine why respiratory illnesses peak around Christmas. The study found 53 different kinds of mold, including, aspergillus, penicillium, cladosporium and alternaria, which can trigger asthma attacks, sneezing and a runny nose. One of the key conclusions made by this study was 70 percent of the molds found triggered allergies and asthma.
Typical signs that your tree is making you ill include the following:
- Asthma attacks, usually triggered by cladosporium mold
- Runny nose
- Sinus pain
- Cold like symptoms, that subside when away from the home or the room with the tree in it.
Mold spores are found naturally on Christmas trees, which will flourish once they are in a centrally heated home.
With this in mind, if you can manage Christmas with an artificial tree, that is the best solution. Please note, artificial trees can accumulate a layer of dust and even mold if not stored properly. Be sure to store your artificial tree in a dry area and preferably in plastic tubs to minimize exposure to moisture and dust.
However, if you must use a live Christmas tree, here are some tips to minimize the health impact:
- Thoroughly hose down your tree and let it dry before bringing it into the house. If you bought your tree at a nursery, ask if they have tree washing services.
- Clean all ornaments and lights before putting on the tree; they can harbor dust and molds. Store all decorations in plastic containers that can be easily wiped down since cardboard can potentially attract dust and mold.
- Minimize exposure. If you’re sensitive to molds, keep a live Christmas tree no more than four to seven days.
- Run an air purifier in the same room as the Christmas tree. This may help alleviate symptoms.
- Allergy medication may also help alleviate some symptoms as well.
- Since mold spores may accumulate the longer your tree is in the house, consider getting rid of it first thing on the 26th.
Got Indoor Air Quality Questions?
First Call NY is here to help! We are indoor air quality cleaning specialists. Call (845) 226-0868 or send us an e-mail if you have concerns about your indoor air quality. Peace of mind is just a phone call away. We look forward to serving you! 🙂
Experts at mold remediation and indoor air quality in your home or office
Contact us today
We do mold remediation in Poughkeepsie, Hopewell Junction, Newburgh and all nearby counties.