Monday, November 30, 2015

Unnoticed danger in the developing countries


Majority of the people living in the advanced society often overlook the problems in the third world countries. Only news people hear from the third world countries are new diseases that are spreading and maybe few major events happening. However when we look deeply into their lives, there are so many problems that something like indoor pollution, which cannot be seen by the naked eye, is not even being considered as a problem.

For us, everyday resources like water and electricity are taken for granted. For those living in the third world countries, they need alternatives. Majority of them use coal and biomass for energy needed to do even the simplest things like cooking stoves. Due to incomplete combustions at homes, women and children are exposed to significant levels of indoor air pollution daily.

Biomass fuel used for energy in poor nations is often made up of animal dung, crop residue, and wood. When these biomasses are burnt, the smoke coming out of the biomass is often very unhealthy for the humans. Majority of the smoke is made up of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, Sulphur oxides, formaldehyde, and polycyclic organic matter. These particles with diameters of below 10 microns can penetrate into the lungs and cause variety of health problems including respiratory illness, chronic pulmonary disease, cancer, tuberculosis, birth/infant problems, and cataract.

For more information:

http://www.scielosp.org/scielo.php?pid=S0042-96862000000900004&script=sci_arttext

The Dangers of Electronic Cigarettes


Electronic cigarettes, or “E-cigs,” have recently garnered a huge following. Many people have taken up the habit in an attempt to quit smoking tobacco or to be able to smoke inside as it doesn’t produce clouds of smoke. Most electronic cigarettes contain propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings but while electronic cigarettes are not regulated some might contain more. The liquid nicotine is heated with an atomizer and creates an aerosol, also referred to as vapor. The user then inhales the vapor and receives trace amounts of nicotine. While research on the subject is relatively low because how new the product is, researchers have found ill effects stemming from electronic cigarettes. Just as if tobacco was smoked indoors, electronic cigarettes can also contribute to indoor air pollution. A recent study showed that electronic cigarettes contain a surprisingly high concentration of formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. David Peyton, a chemistry professor from our own Portland State University understates “I think this is just one more piece of evidence amid a number of pieces of evidence that e-cigarettes are not absolutely safe.The study found that the liquid in electronic cigarettes, when heated at high temperatures, may actually produce more formaldehyde that traditional tobacco. Concordantly, second hand vapor from electronic cigarettes can also be harmful especially in infants and children. The best thing you can do to prevent this is to quit, but if you decide not to remain smoking electronic cigarettes outside as you would a traditional cigarette. 

For more info check out:



Your Furniture Might Be Making You Sick



Do you have furniture within your home? Like for most people, the answer may be “yes.” But did you know that home furniture may be one of the biggest causes of indoor air pollution? The furniture you have in your house may be emitting allergens and chemicals into the air that can have negative health effects. Pet dander, which is composed of tiny, microscopic flecks of skin from animals, can easily stick to furniture like couches, beds, and bedding. Dust mites, which are microscopic insect-like pests, also live in your furniture like couches, mattresses, and carpets. Both dander and dust mites are leading causes of allergic reactions leading to persistent coughing, sneezing, congestion, and asthma attacks.
Also, if your furniture was purchased before 2006 it most likely contains PBDEs which acts as a flame retardant. The chemical used with the intention of saving lives may be emitting dangerous toxins with serious health risks. PBDEs normally will not trigger an acute response in the body but the cumulative effects can be very serious. As exposure to PBDEs increase there is also an increased risk of permanent nervous and reproductive system damage. It has also been proven to show serious neurological damage in small children.
To limit the pollution within your home from dust mites and dander the best thing you can do is to keep your household clean. Vacuum and change your bedding frequently and always remember to change your mattresses every couple of years. To limit the PBDEs within your home do your homework and check with the manufacturer about the product. Rid your house of any furniture with PBDEs and definitely replace any furniture with holes because PBDEs can easily escape through small openings. 

To learn more go to:

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/flame-retardants/

http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/indoor-air-pollutants/dust-mites.html

http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/indoor-air-pollutants/pet-dander.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ever thought about the air you breath…inside your Car?




When we think of indoor air quality we limit ourselves to homes and buildings. What we forget is that most American’s spend a significant amount of time in their cars. They use them to run errands such as getting groceries, going to and from work, appointments etc. Getting to and from destinations is a huge part of our lives. When we are in our cars we don’t think about the pollutants that our cars hold. Cars have very little space and they are very compact, the pollutants that the air conditioning systems sucks in from the outside can be dangerous. These include vehicle exhaust, road dust, greenhouse gases, cigarette smoke etc. The cleanliness of your car is very important because it can be overlooked. On rainy days mud and water can be tracked from your children's soccer game and this can be a pathway to mold and other toxic pollutants. Vacuuming your car frequently, airing it out while driving, using your air conditioning system as little as possible can all be ways to help decrease these pollutants. 

To learn more about the hidden dangers inside your car and to decrease the pollutants, visit the following sites;  


Air Quality and Student Performance

Indoor air quality is important wherever you go and it is especially important for places that you spend a lot of time like at home, work and school. Having poor indoor air quality in schools can affect student performance greatly but in subtle ways. Symptoms include coughing, eye irritation, headaches, allergic reactions, and most importantly it can cause asthma aggravation. One in thirteen students suffer from asthma and this is the leading cause to absenteeism which affects school performance. Evidence shows that there a lot of contributing factors to poor indoor air quality in schools, including the presence of pollutants for supplies, dust, exhaust from school buses, HVAC systems, etc. These factors paired with poor ventilation in schools contribute to poor concentration for students.

Learn More!


Ten things you should know about MOLD


Living in Portland, where it is notoriously known for long and wet winters, most people are aware of what mold is. Mold is one of the more commonly known indoor pollutant. But just in case you don’t know, here’s a quick overview. Mold is a result from dampness and residual water.  Most likely people don’t even know there is a problem until there are visible signs of water damage. Generally there are two ways that mold can enter your home without your knowledge, the first being an internal source like leaking water from pipes.  The second can be an external source comparable to rainwater. But the result is the same; dampness and wet areas. Damp areas become a problem when it effects different parts of the house like rugs, walls, and titles. When these area are effected for long periods of time, that’s when mold start to develop. Dampness is the leading source of where bacteria and fungus grow. What most people don’t realize is mold can destroy an entire house, especially if mold gets into the interior spaces where it can infect the insulation, then interior structure or even worse the foundation of the house could be destroyed. When you think about it that way then mold becomes a serious and scary pollutant.  And the worst part about it is mold can anywhere; outdoor and indoor.
There are ten things you should know about mold:

  1.       There are series health effects that are caused by mold, that include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory diseases.
  2.   There is no real way of eliminating mold spores once it’s containment an indoor space. Controlling moisture is the only real way to control mold.
  3.    If there is a leak, find and fix it!  
  4.   Heavily clean the affected area.
  5.  Find ways to reduce humidity, you can do this by venting your using air conditioners and de-humidifiers, Increasing ventilation with exhaust fans whenever cooking, dish washing and cleaning.
  6.    Clean and clean some more any areas that has been effected.
  7.   Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles that are moldy may need to be replaced.
  8.    Prevent condensation  by adding insulation
  9. With areas that might be potential dangers do not put carpeting or water sources, like fountains.
  10.  You can clean mold off with water, detergent and other soaps. But most importantly dry everything completely when you’re finished.



Mold can be easily prevented by just being aware of your surroundings. Be active and look around, your home could be in danger.  


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Climate Change: Indoor Effects?

The EPA has an interesting topic it's pursuing: how is rapid climate change effecting our indoor environments? 



Their concern? Our climate is rapidly changing due to pollution and environmental factors and our houses are built for a climate that no longer exists. If we want to improve our own health as well as take care of the environment, we're going to have to explore new ways of building and remodeling homes.

Problems climate change can cause according to the Institute of Medicine's research:

  • Increase in pests in areas previously unaffected - pests may migrate towards homes as a result of their natural habitat becoming inhospitable; more pests mean more use of harmful, air polluting pesticides
  • Extreme weather conditions - extreme waves of weather are becoming more common every year; extreme cold in an unprepared household can cause build up of moisture and mold, which decreases air quality. Extreme heat in an unprepared household can cause overheating, fires, and blackouts. Household appliances effected by these issues can contribute to reduced air quality.
  • Environmental wear on housing - the more extreme our environment becomes, the more it can wear on the very foundation of our homes. Houses that become worn down and develop more and more issues allow in more contaminates that effect air quality and the health of its occupants.

For the full report by the Institute of Medicine click HERE.

Air Quality in Prisons

A place people may be less inclined to discuss when tackling the issue of indoor air pollution is in correctional institutions - aka prisons. When the subject of improving living conditions in correctional institutions, people are often off-put given the very nature of the place. Spending tax money to help criminals seems unsavory to many. But improving the air quality of prisons is something that can effect everyone, not just inmates. The prison staff are also at risk if the air quality is bad, and though some inmates might be there for life, there are many that will be released and deserve the opportunity to live healthy lives, as well as our moral obligation to take care of those who are incarcerated, regardless of their personal situations.


Russia stands as a frightening example of the consequences of poor living conditions in prisons. Russian inmates have a extremely high risk of contracting tuberculosis while serving their time. TB is spread through the air from person to person and is extremely contagious and deadly if it is not treated promptly. When air conditions are poor in a prison environment, there's no doubt the risk of infectious diseases rises. If infected prisoners are released without proper treatment, they can infect countless others. But we can't keep a prisoner either if they've served their time, it's both morally wrong as well as illegal. So the solution to this is to implement stronger laws protecting the health of prisoners. If we want to avoid a situation like Russia, especially as our prisons grow more crowded, we must work on prevention strategies now rather than wait until something happens.

For more information, check out the links below:


More People, More Pollution

When dealing with indoor air pollution, there's always things a homeowner can do to reduce their risk of being exposed to pollutants. But what if you don't actually own your residence? Indoor air pollution can pose a unique problem for people living in a shared space with others, such as apartments, condos, and housing under the Affordable Housing plan. The pollutants from another tenant can effect someone who doesn't even use them, and the building itself may have damage the renter isn't legal allowed to fix.


The best solution to avoiding air pollution from multi-family housing units, if you're unable to appeal to the owner of the complex, is to help to educate your neighbors and friends about the causes and risks. Ask people to smoke away from the building and give them alternatives to harmful cleaning products. A little positive neighboring goes a long way!

For more information, visit the following links.


Pesticides and Air Quality

Most people think of pesticides as being something that only effects the outdoors, but would you be surprised to learn that people are exposed to large amounts of pesticide pollution inside as well? Improper storage and treatment of indoor pesticides can lead to health problems in adults as well as children.

If you intend to use pesticides indoors or outdoors, there are easy and straightforward ways to help reduce the effects of pesticide pollution. When using pesticides outdoors, wear a pair of shoes and pants you can easily remove and clean when re-entering the home. This will reduce the chances of someone bringing pesticides inside with them on their clothes. Close all doors and windows into the home to stop the wind from bringing pesticides in as well. If you are applying pesticides indoors, open the windows to outside to bring in fresh air.



There is an alternative to pesticide use however. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a strategy that incorporates common sense techniques to prevent the development and long-term effects of pest in the household and outdoors. When using the IPM method, the first step is to identify what kind of pest is affecting your home and then recognize WHY they are being drawn to your home.

An example from the National Pesticide Information Center's website:



For more information on the effects of pesticides on your home and health, and more information on alternatives, such as the IPM method, check out the following links.








Monday, November 23, 2015

Air Quality in the Workplace

When I mention air quality, you might picture the smog in LA or how you can take steps to control the air within your home, but have you considered the environment that you face at work? If you haven't, don't worry. Researchers from Environmental Health Perspectives did the dirty work for you and uncovered a problem that most of us probably hadn't even considered. You see, aside from the harmful physical effects that poor air quality can cause, it has been discovered that poor air quality might have an effect on our mental health as well.

In their paper, researchers wrote of their findings, which included a 61 percent increase in cognitive scores in the office buildings with lower air pollution. When coupled with reduced CO2 levels, the increase in cognitive performance rose 101 percent. The lower air pollution levels were no coincidence. They were found in "well-ventilated 'green' buildings" that were designed to provide reduced pollution.

Of course, the question of outside factors arises. Perhaps the building's design itself provided a more favorable work environment and the cleaner air was an added bonus. Maybe the older, less-ventilated buildings used in the study were drab enough to provide a marked decrease in the participants' motivation.


Which office would you prefer to work in?



Regardless of the environment's appearance, the study (which viewed the same 24 participants in two different spaces over six work days) brings up a correlation that will be incredibly important moving forward. Air having an effect on cognitive function means companies have a way to improve things like worker efficiency or quality of life - or they can leave buildings "as is" and perhaps sacrifice workplace productivity.

Works Cited/Additional Reading:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/co2-cognition-harvard-study_562e9c8ee4b06317990f157d

http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/120-a475a/

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Dangers of Lead

If your anything like you me, you’re a lover of anything made at the turn of the 20th century. The brink buildings, old hardwood floors, unique interiors, and funky layouts. There is an aesthetic charm to these homes that give the impression of being transported to another era. One of things to be cautious about when living in historic homes is the risk of being exposed to lead.  Lead is one of the most dangerous pollutant, there are many ways a person can be exposed to lead; through the air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint and dust. Prior to 1991 lead was especially used in household paints and water pipes.  But the most common and least obvious way a person can be exposed is through air borne contamination, like dust. Dust is everywhere and in some ways a silent killer, a person can just be breathing the air in their home and little do they know their being poisoned by tiny particles of lead. Older homes built prior to 1991, are more likely to have lead based products in them. Especially in the paint used to paint the interiors of the buildings. According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, oil lead based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure in the US today.  
Lead affects all systems within the body. High levels of lead exposure can cause convulsions, coma and even in some cases death.  Low levels of lead exposure can affect the nervous system, kidney and blood cells, and it can impair your mental and physical development. Young child and infants the risk of lead exposure can be even more sever, resulting in lower IQs and behavioral problems.  Children and infants are more at risk at being exposed because of their size and they are more likely to put lead contaminated object in their mouths.
Some of the ways you can reduced lead exposure is keep your living area clean and dust free. Mop and dust as often as possible. If you become aware that your interior space has been painted with lead based paint do not sand or burn off the paint and never remove lead based paint by yourself. If you’ve been exposed to lead dust, do not bring it into the house, clean your clothes and use dust mats before entering your home. If you do notice areas that could be potential danger keep your children away from it. Frequently wash toys, bottles and pacifiers. Children are 70% more likely to be exposed.  Also it helps to keep a balanced diet of iron and calcium.
So when you’re looking for your forever Victorian or mid-century home, be aware of your interior space. Look at the walls and floors and check for areas that might have interior decay. And more importantly ask questions, especially if you have young children.  You may be living with lead and not even know it. Be consciousness!!!

Sites to check out:




Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Effects of VOCs on Indoor Air Quality


Last Monday I spent two or three hours cleaning my apartment.

It’s a long time to be cleaning, I know. If I’m being honest, it had been awhile since I’d really properly done a deep cleaning, and it was starting to get on my nerves. So, I took out the trash, did several loads of dishes, scrubbed down the counters and stovetop, and cleaned every available surface in the bathroom. By the time I’d finished I was quite satisfied with my newly clean space, and proceeded to lounge about for the rest of the afternoon, having completed my main goal for the day. As I sat there, though, the smell of lemon-scented Clorox lingering in the air, I started wondering whether my cleaning routine could be creating its own problems. Sure, my counters might be free of 99.9% of bacteria, but what other effects could that be having? However, if we’re going to talk about how common household cleaning products can affect indoor air quality, it’s important to know what exactly is dangerous about them.

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are organic chemicals that have a low vapor pressure. This usually results from a low boiling point, and means more molecules of these chemicals tend to evaporate into the air than in other compounds. Now, there are all sorts of VOCs, both naturally occurring and manmade, and not all of them are dangerous. In fact, many of the ones that are dangerous aren’t lethal, though they can still have both short and long-term effects on your health. Dizziness, headaches, and respiratory irritation, for example, can present when a person is exposed to high levels of VOCs for a short period. The most dangerous thing about VOCs, however, is that they can react with other chemicals already in the air to create compounds like formaldehyde that are often more of a health threat than the VOCs themselves. Aerosol sprays, ionizers, and lemon and pine scented cleaning products in particular are known for this, but this doesn’t mean they’re the only offenders. Deodorizers, surface cleaners, and disinfectants among others can all release VOCs when used, and children in particular are more at risk for adverse health effects like asthma and allergies after long-term exposure, and in rare cases even Legionnaire’s disease, carbon monoxide poisoning, and cancer. Additionally, since many of these products get washed down the drains and end up in the soil and water, they can have negative effects on the outside environment as well as getting back into your home through other avenues like soil vapor intrusion, the process by which potentially dangerous vapors escape from the soil and contaminate the air in the building above. Considering all this you may decide it’s in your own best interests to make a change.
 So, now that you know about the effects your cleaning products might be having, how can you take more control of the air quality in your home? Below is a list of suggestions you can use to make your own plan for going VOC free, but you may have your own ideas as well! Take a look, and comment below if you have any ideas you think should be added.
  • Learn to make use of these six easy cleaning ingredients: lemon juice, vinegar, salt, olive oil, club soda, and baking soda. They’re all relatively affordable, and you’ve likely already got many of them in your pantry! Try out this list of suggestions for using them from alternet.

  • If you decide to change the cleaning products you’re using in your home, try looking for products that are Greenguard certified. They certify products which meet very strict indoor chemical emissions levels. You can find a list of products that meet this standard here.

  • If you decide to keep your standard cleaning products, do your best to limit the length of time you spend using them. The shorter it is, the less time there is for VOCs to get in your air, so only use them for the absolute minimum amount of time required to get things clean.

  • Always make sure the space you’re cleaning in is well ventilated. Try leaving a window open or running a fan after cleaning to limit or lower the concentration of vaporized chemicals in the air. 

  • Get rid of any old cleaning products you don’t use anymore, as they can still emit vapors that contain VOCs even if you’re not actively using them.

  • Store any cleaning products you use in a tightly sealed container, ideally away from well-trafficked areas, so you can limit exposure as much as possible.

  • Remember that products labelled “green” or “natural” are not necessarily safe or effective. It may make you feel better to use these sorts of products, but they’re not currently well-regulated or defined, so always make sure to do your research before using them.


References:





http://greenguard.org/en/manufacturers/manufacturer_indoorAirQuality.aspx

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Keeping Your Indoor Air Clean

Scented air fresheners may give us a clean smell, but it doesn’t always mean it will give us clean air. The synthetic fragrances contain alcohols, aldehydes (like formaldehyde, which is a common indoor air pollutant and known carcinogen), and aromatic hydrocarbons, which irritates the eyes and respiratory system. Just when we thought that keeping our indoor air smelling clean, we were able to keep our air clean.


There are just too many chemicals in these air fresheners’ product, the word “fragrance” is a fancy word that may hide dozen of chemicals that we think it’s safe to use it for our indoor air. But it’s not too late to change how you keep your indoor air clean. There are natural ways to keeping it safe and healthy. 

These natural ways can keep your indoor air clean and fresh, than using an aerosol spray air fresheners. Nowadays, there are many “do it yourself” ways on the internet to keep your indoor air clean and smelling fresh. One way, of course is opening your windows and doors for a short period of time which can do more for your home’s indoor air quality than a host of commercial fragrances. Vinegar and baking soda can help eliminate odors in the kitchen and or places throughout your home. Also houseplants are amazing air filters that are effective at increasing oxygen and clearing out toxins for you. 






For more information to cleaner air indoor, check out the suggested links for tips and ideas:




Sunday, November 15, 2015

Clarifying Volitive Organic Compounds



     Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are organic chemicals – any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon – VOC have the property of high equilibrium vapor pressure at room temperature. Meaning: as the temperature of a state of affairs (say a liquid) increases, the kinetic energy of its molecules also increases. As the kinetic energy of the molecules increase, the number of molecules transitioning from liquid into vapor also increases – essentially VOCs are the tendency to allow the escape of particles from liquid/solid/gas closed systems (objects – like an air freshener).
  VOCs include both man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds – while the scientific language is rather dense and the pseudoscientific language presents us with a picture of VOCs as belonging to end all be all of commercially manufactured and environmentally unconscious corporate/government bodies (demonization); it is no wonder there are levels of confusion regarding something of a mundane phenomena. 
  VOCs are ubiquitous (synthetic or natural) – in fact, our sense of scent and ability to concretize odor profile is to some degree possible thru VOC vapor – for example, think about this: if wishing to assess one’s exposure risk to say, limonene – which reacts with ozone to form formaldehyde – would you (i) prefer to remain in an enclosed space with a lemon scented air freshener (using d-limonene as base) with periodic introductions of ozone or ii) remain in an enclosed space slowly peeling oranges with periodic introductions of ozone? – silly as this thought experiment may sound, it has the potential to show something of interest. 
  The inclination to choose option (ii) is strong – clearly option (i) leads to the direct exposure to formaldehyde. The reasoning could have gone like this – ‘given that the conditions of the room do not change and the exposure to ozone is less of a concern (I’m being exposed to it now); the objects in the room are of the most concern. The air freshener is artificial, being used atypically and uses commercially generated compounds – the orange is natural, familiar and it actually aids to sustain life (I can eat it: they’re quite good). Room ii) is the better choice to mitigate exposure.’ This line of thought comes easily – fluidly in fact – presents a practical examination of the scenario and reaches a solid abductive conclusion. Logical analysis shows the reasoning to be fallacious however – appeal to nature. Room i) is the better choice – in a study done by Langer et al, exposure to limonene from peeling an orange is far greater than using limonene-scented products. The study showed that secondary organic pollutants (in our case formaldehyde) exist in the lowest range of exposure from artificial d-limonene sources and that a higher concentration of particulates are formed by peeling an orange.

source:

Langer S, Modanova J, Arrhenius K, Ljungstrom E, Ekberg L. Ultrafine particles produced by ozone/limonene reactions in indoor air under low/closed ventilation conditions. Atmospheric Environment. 2008;42:4149–4159.





CLEAN



Simple Tasks for Quality Air


           Many people don’t know about the dangers of the air quality inside their homes. A home is a place that most people hope to feel safe in, but if people are not educated with the right information regarding air pollution in their homes it could be harmful. The good news is that it can be prevented with simple tasks that are done to ensure that homes are clean and rid of certain air pollutants. These tasks include vacuuming on a regular basis, circulating your air using fans, opening windows while cooking and simply allowing fresh air inside your home. If you have pets it is important to groom them regularly so that you eliminate the fur and dander that is shed by our fury little friends. The key to indoor air is to always keep in mind that fresh air is mandatory to healthy living. Always cumulating your air so that you are inhaling healthy fresh air and not air that is harmful to your health. There are also items that can be purchased such as dehumidifiers to prevent mildew and humidity as well as an air purifier. Although these items can be expensive you can still ensure the safety of your air by doing the simple tasks to keep your air fresh, the systems such as dehumidifies or air purifiers should simply be used as a plus or addition to clean air. When we are in our homes we want to feel safe and we should be able to feel safe knowing that we are inhaling good quality air. Little steps we take can get us a long way!



For more tips and information on how you can improve your air visit the following sites;

http://greenguard.org/en/consumers/consumers_tips.aspx

http://blog.withings.com/2015/01/16/7-tips-to-improve-indoor-air-quality-in-your-home/

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Indoor Air and Your Pets

Humans aren't the only ones affected by poor indoor air quality. Tobacco smoke, cleaning products, and other chemicals are making our pets sick, too.

In fact, pets may be more susceptible than humans when it comes to health problems caused by poor air quality. The EPA tells us that indoor air contains up to 5 times as many contaminants as outdoor air, exposing pets (and people) who spend most of their time inside to these pollutants. Not only are most animals more sensitive to particulates in the air (Leigh), but since many of these toxic particles are relatively heavy, they tend to settle in the air closer to the floor -- right where many of our pets walk, play, and sleep. (Mercola)

Poor air quality will cause animals to develop health problems such as respiratory infections, cancer, and heart disease -- just like humans.

Throughout history, people have recognized that animals react to invisible dangers in the environment that humans may not sense right away. For example, many years ago, coal miners would bring canaries into the mines with them to act as a warning signal: when the toxic gasses in the mine reached dangerously unhealthy levels, the bird would sicken and die before the miners felt the effects themselves. A dead bird was a sign for the humans to get out quickly! (O'Brien)

You probably don't live in a coal mine -- but would you wait until your family pet gets sick before cleaning up the air in your house?



WORKS CITED

Leigh, Elizah. "How Does Air Pollution Affect Pets?" SFGate. Demand Media. N.d. Web. 12 November, 2015.

Mercola, Joseph. "Poor Indoor Air Quality Could Be Jeapordizing Your Health." Mercola.com. 25 July, 2011. Web. 12 November, 2015.

O'Brien, D.J., et al. "The Use of Mammals as Sentinels for Human Exposure to Toxic Contaminants in the Environment." Environmental Health Perspectives 99 (March 1993): 351-368. Open Access. Web. 12 November, 2015.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Should You Test Your Home or Business?

As you evaluate the indoor air pollution in your home or have concerns about the indoor air quality of your local schools and business' you may wonder if you should hire a company to assess the indoor air quality (IAQ), but common sense and your own evaluation could be good enough.
The Connecticut department of health noted that testing should not be the first step due to the lack of set standards and the variance of situations from home to home or business to business, "the lack of enforceable standards makes interpretations a risky business". Individual reactions to indoor air pollutants, like mold, vary a great deal. Homes vary as well when indoor air quality guidelines are concerned, newer homes are not set to the same standards as older homes.

The first step to evaluating IAQ is to identify problems yourself. Walk through your home or place of business and use your senses to identify potential problems. For example, evaluate the general cleanliness of the building and the cleaning agents used. The key is being able to identify pollutants.
Learn More:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Plants -- A Beautiful, Natural Way to Clean the Air



Time for a visit to the greenhouse!

Plants are a beautiful addition to any home or office environment, and most people are aware that they freshen the air by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. But did you know that plants can help improve indoor air quality by filtering out several toxic chemicals, as well? 

NASA scientists, concerned about the air quality in sealed space crafts, conducted a study which showed that plants were able to remove nearly 87% of benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air within 24 hours. (Pottorff)

Even if you’re not an astronaut, it’s likely that these chemicals are affecting your health. They’re present in inks, plastics, paper, cleaning products, and many other common substances. While our buildings aren’t as air-tight as a space shuttle, modern energy-efficient building practices insure that heat (or air-conditioning) stays in and the elements stay out. Unfortunately, that also means that chemicals have a chance to accumulate in the recirculated air. 

Plants absorb many harmful chemicals along with the carbon dioxide that they “breathe.” They also help remove bacteria, mold spores, and pollen, which is good news for people with allergies. Even the microbes that live in the plants’ potting soil absorb toxins from the air. (Janowiak)

Of course, like all living organisms, plants have their limits – we should still try to eliminate toxins from our environment as much as possible. Plants may also make some problems worse, as they tend to increase the humidity in the air (which can lead to mold) and their flowers will aggravate some allergies. But in general, a few plants around your desk will have a positive effect on both your mental and physical health!



WORK CITED:

Janowiak, Maria. “9 Air-Cleaning Houseplants That Are Almost Impossible to Kill.” Greatist Daily. Greatist. 3 March, 2015. Web. 3 November, 2015. 

Pottorff, Laura. “Plants ‘Clean’ Air Inside Our Homes.” Colorado State University. 5 January, 2010. Web. 3 November, 2015.