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Issue 95: From Jordan's Desk--How's Your Air Supply?

So, how is your air supply? The answer may surprise you, since indoor air may be more hazardous for your health than outdoor air is. Everything from construction materials and carpet or drapes to appliances, household chemicals and even candles can adversely affect your air supply.

Let’s face it. Air quality affects everyone, and we have to have air to live. You might be wondering how indoor air can possibly be worse than outdoor air. Over the years, buildings have become more airtight to conserve energy by using storm windows, insulation, caulk and weather-stripping materials. That’s maybe helped to make our homes and offices more energy efficient, but it has also served to hold in substances including chemicals in cleaning products, pesticides, mold and more.

The major classes of air pollutants in the home and other buildings include: combustion byproducts (carbon monoxide from tobacco, furnaces, stoves, water heaters and other appliances); pollutants from construction materials and furnishings like carpets and drapes (such as formaldehyde); fumes from cleaners, paint, pesticides, moth balls and other household chemicals; outside contaminants entering the home of office such as industrial or automotive air pollutants; biological contaminants such as bacteria, mold, viruses, pollen, mildew, animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches and other insects.

Let’s not forget about sweet-smelling pollutants. “Candles are fast becoming one of the most common unrecognized causes of poor indoor air quality,” says Diane Walsh Astry of the Health House, a national education project created by the American Lung Association of Minnesota. When buying scented candles, she says to watch out for metal wicks because lead emitted by this type of candle is a serious health hazard.

It’s no wonder that past EPA studies have found that pollutant levels inside a building can be two to five times higher than that of the outdoors. What’s more is that’s where we spend most of our time. On average, people spend about 90% of their time indoors, with 65% of that at home.  We go from home to our cars, to work, to stores, to movies, etc.  It’s easy to see that we spend most of our time indoors, so we should be more intentional about our air supply. 

A solution to the indoor air pollution problem is to get and use an air purifier; air purifiers are very affordable and definitely work to reduce or remove molds, yeasts, and other microorganisms and contaminants in the indoor air we breathe. You’ll also want to replace return air vents on a monthly basis to keep that fresh air moving in your house or office, while removing the stale air to the outside.

You can also add a little green—since plants do more than just brighten up a room. Plants such as palms, ferns, peace lilies, spider plants, chrysanthemums, ivy and dracaena can all help make your air supply a little cleaner and more pure. They are said to absorb pollutants from the air. Throwing open the windows occasionally is not a bad idea, either. 

Don’t let your home or office become all out of clean air. Keep a healthy air supply.

 

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.


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