Most Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, where they are repeatedly exposed to indoor allergens and airborne particles that can lead to respiratory symptoms and conditions.
It has been said that the indoor air quality of an average home is worse than the outside environment!
According to experts at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy,Asthma and Immunology(AAAAI)
Damp environments, poorly maintained heating and air-conditioning systems and carpeting...
...may contribute to poor indoor air quality.
Since every home's indoor air is filled with a combination of molds, air pathogens, volatile organic compounds, dust mites; it is impossible to view it as a one size fits all. There are simply too many variables.
But the one thing they all seem to have in common is Water.
Wet. Moisture. Damp. Humid.
" If there were just two simple things I could do to really fix a building, it would be to change the relative humidity and any water incursion" said Matthew Snow, CIEC, CMRS, CRMI, RMS, CBST Building Scientist and Executive Vice President of Turtle Clan Environment Testing, Inc. "Seeking out and repairing the source is key. Moisture leads to conditions that are conducive to dust mites and mold, as well as bacteria, yeast and many other living organisms."
Snow pointed to dust mites and mold as particularly worrisome.
A damp building with high humidity may lead to increased levels of dust mites and mold, leading to increased allergic respiratory symptoms, as well as the worsening of Asthma.
It is a vicious cycle!
And even if someone is not allergic, molds may produce mycotoxins and microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) that smell bad
.....and may cause respiratory irritation, and Dermatitis
Nearly half of all young people with asthma are allergic to dust mites; aproximately 10 percent of the population is allergic to dust mites.
ALWAYS REMEMBER......Mold requires moisture to grow.
It takes only 60% relative humidity to have a very significant mold colonization inside your home within 24-48 hours.
Indoor Breathing Environment
Although there are many culprits that negatively affect indoor air quality, poorly maintained air-conditioning and carpeting are among the most problematic.
A major source of microbial allergens is a poorly maintained heating and air-conditioning( HVAC) system,
According to Snow, up to 30 percent of the air inside a home can come from the attic, parking garage or basement.
One study supported by the EPA found that 75 percent of homes...
had carbon monoxide from the garage inside of the home.
It is pretty disgusting to think that we are being entombed in airtight /under ventilated toxic coffins!
Thankfully there is a huge interest in greening up construction with sustainable building products and materials
Much like air conditioning systems, carpeting often harbors allergens, including dust mites and molds.
Organisms and particles that become airborne eventually settle in carpeting turning it into a virtual Petrie dish.
In damp environments, carpeting provides an ideal environment for mold growth since the padding is a lovely tasty treat!
Many schools who do not follow Healthy Schools practices, shampoo their carpeting right before school starts at the end of summer when it's humid outside.
There couldn't be a more inopportune time!
Making a Healthier Indoor Environment
To improve indoor air quality there are several construction practices that, when done right, can make a significant difference.
Once built, maintenance becomes key.
Matthew Snow offers the following advice for home owners' on making their Indoor Environment Healthier:
· Keep the HVAC system clean. Use an air filter that kills particulates instead of just trapping them.
· Keep roof drainage at least 6 feet away from foundation
· Maintain all plumbing and fixtures in good working order. In high humidity areas, wrapping pipes with insulation will prevent excessive water dripping.
· Have the HVAC system and ductwork inspected and/ or cleaned yearly by an ASHRAE or NADCA Certified Contractor. These should also be wrapped in insulation in high humidity areas.
· Make cerain there is proper roof ventilation. Gable
or roof ridge vents are ideal.
· Make certain all kitchen and especially bathroom exhaust ventilation is vented to the outside. NOT the attic!!
· Do not have any wall- to wall carpeting in any buildings or homes where humidity cannot be controlled!! You are just asking for trouble! If you must, have area rugs that can be removed yearly and taken outside to be cleaned like in the old time days. If you cannot replace carpet, vacuum thoroughly, carefully and methodically so you don't stir dust into the air. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or cyclonic vacuum.
· Prevent mold and all damp building related contamination at bay by dehumidifying the basement. In unfinished basements, humidity should be kept lower than 50-65% percent. Make sure you do your research before buying an air filtration or dehumidifier since not all are created equally!
· Have basements checked yearly for Radon.
TURTLE CLAN ENVIRONMENT TESTING INC. is comprised of a team of EXPERTS with over 100 years intellectual capital to bring to our clients.
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