It’s spring, and we can finally throw open the windows and let in some ‘fresh’ air. We can hope it’s fresh, but in some areas, like in cities with high pollution rates, the air is not so clean. The important thing is too know how to keep the indoor air quality in our home, or place of work, as healthy as possible. This is why at Abel Heating and Cooling, we are happy to have a CIEC (Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant) on site.
Most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors. As time goes on, and we become more and more exposed to indoor toxins, we see an increase in illnesses, such as COPD, asthma and allergies.
In evaluating this, we need to know that there is more to environmental pollution than air quality alone. Exposures to toxins, chemicals and fumes need to be considered. A CIEC specialist can even evaluate the purity of the water we drink.
Here is a List of Indoor Environmental Problems you May Encounter in Your Home or Workplace:
- Smokers: inside or nearby.
- Allergens: unfiltered such as ragweed
- Fumes and combustion: automotive, etc. poorly vented appliances, fireplaces, wood stoves.
- Building materials: paints, adhesives, formaldehyde or asbestos, VOCs Volatile Organic Compounds.
- Cleaning materials: ammonia, sprays, etc.
- Insecticides or pesticides
- Radon or methane: from soil beneath a building
- Pets: giving off fur, mites and dander
- Exhaust: from vehicles in attached garage or outside the window
- Humidity: too high
- Filters: are they clogged or dirty
- Dust: large amounts of dust or mites on surfaces
Not only do these issues affect your health and comfort, but being unaware of them can bring greater risk to children under four years old or people over sixty years old. Does anyone suffer from COPD, asthma, bronchitis, allergies or heart problems in your home?
Here is What can Happen From Exposure to Common Indoor Environmental Pollutants:
Asbestos: No immediate symptoms, but long-term risk of chest and abdominal cancers and lung diseases. This includes smokers.
Biologicals: (allergens, mold, mildew, pollen) cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, dizziness, fever, digestive problems, asthma, flu and infectious diseases.
Carbon monoxide: Low concentrations bring fatigue, loss of short term memory and chest pain in people with heart problems. Higher concentrations bring impaired vision and coordination, headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea, flu-like symptoms and death. Once away from the source, these symptoms will subside. LEARN MORE ABOUT CARBON MONOXIDE
Combustion: By-products, including tobacco smoke: Eye, nose and throat irritation, decreased lung function, bronchitis and lung cancer.
Formaldehyde: A widely used chemical used in household furnishings such as fabric, flooring, etc. Eye, nose and throat irritant, wheezing, coughing, fatigue, skin rash, can cause cancer. SEE BLOG ABOUT DANGERS
Lead: Affects nearly all systems of the body. Lower levels of lead can adversely affect the central nervous system, kidney, and blood cells and can impair mental and physical development. Lead at high levels can cause convulsions, coma, and even death.
Pesticides: Eye, nose, and throat irritation; damage to central nervous system and kidney; increased risk of cancer.
Radon: An invisible, radioactive gas. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
How Can you Avoid Exposure and Contamination?
New Minnesota Code requires a carbon monoxide monitor detector be installed in each sleeping area. Fumes can often be triggered when a new gas furnace or boiler is installed in an existing residential structure that does not have CO detectors.
ALERT: If you even remotely believe there is a cause for concern in your home, or place of business, leave immediately! Call your local gas company, the police, or give Abel a call and we can do an inspection. But don’t stay inside, or leave pets indoors.
Other CIEC Indoor Environment Concerns
In this article we are covering a wide variety of indoor air quality issues, but there are some things not easy to detect on your own. One key thing to watch for is if a household member becomes ill, shows symptoms with no apparent cause, and the problem persists.
Be sure your home is well vented. Is there exhaust fans above ranges and ovens? Keep gas burners properly adjusted (blue flame tip, not yellow). Keep burners properly cleaned. When using household cleaners, open windows and run exhaust fans. Follow the directions on labels for safety. Keep shower doors and curtains open, and wipe down inside after use to avoid mold. NEW INFORMATION ABOUT EXPOSURE TO CHEMICALS
Keep humidity down from cooking, dishwasher, laundry and normal humid weather to avoid mold. 30% to 50% humidity level is recommended. Keep drip pans cleaned, and always check on potential leaks. Maybe a whole-house de-humidifier is what you need.
If you’ve purchased new cabinets (pressed wood), furniture, paneling, etc. ask about the formaldehyde content and emissions. Once installed, keep the area ventilated as long as possible.
Keep pets clean to avoid buildup of dander and fur. Clean and vacuum your house thoroughly and remove dust. Hard flooring is better to avoid allergies. Clean to avoid dust mites.
If using a fireplace, wood stove or kerosene heater, have it cleaned as needed. Open flue when fireplace is in use and keep well vented. Inspect flue and chimney annually for blockage or other damage. Always extinguish fires before going to bed for the night.
If you expect radon is present, test for levels with an inexpensive do-it-yourself kit. Consult with a professional if radon levels are high (4 picocuries per liter).
Abel Can Help With Indoor Environment Issues
Don’t take unnecessary risks with you or your family’s health. It’s important to have regular check-ups and maintenance of your heating and cooling system. Having our CIEC technician at Abel we can offer the opportunity to find any possible hazards before they become a problem.
Keep your family breathing healthy air. Do you need to upgrade your HVAC system? Are you sure you have adequate ventilation? Do you need regular maintenance? Call 952-472-2665 or Contact Us now.