Is Your Indoors Healthy? Part 2
Though it is hard to tell if someone has Carbon Monoxide poisoning, the most common symptoms are headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pains and confusion.
The 4th October 2017 issue of Real Reserve in Part 1 of this two series article, we identified that children spend an average of between8 to 20 hours indoor daily. We then tackled our living environment and identified some of the common indoor air pollutants we do not realise we are breathing at home. Today, due to popular request, we shall continue the segment with more indoor pollutants and hazards we should be aware of.
Here are some more pollutants that we should be aware of:
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that has no odour or colour. But it is very dangerous. It can cause sudden illness and death. CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those made by cars and trucks, lanterns, stoves, gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these fumes can build up in places that don’t have a good flow of fresh air – breathing them in can poison you. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pains and confusion.
t is often hard to tell if someone has CO poisoning, because the symptoms may be like those of other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms. A CO detector can warn you if you have high levels of CO in your home.
The pollutants released due to overcrowding of humans or animals include bioaerosols . Most of the bioaerosols present in the outdoors are induced indoor either by natural or mechanical intake of the ventilation systems. Humidifiers, air conditioning systems, cooling towers, mechanical ventilation systems, air-distribution ducts, and areas of water damage are the best breeding places for these bioaerosols.
Bioaerosols can eventually cause Legionnaires’ disease, humidifier fever and influenza.
To prevent this pollutant from living in your home, it is recommended to vacuum regularly (not just sweep the floor) and remove all lead based paint from your walls and replace with lead-free paint.
You should also be aware of…
Around 3 billion people cook and heat their homes using solid fuels (i.e. wood, charcoal, coal, dung, crop wastes) on open fires or traditional stoves. Such inefficient cooking and heating practices produce high levels of household (indoor) air pollution, which includes a range of health damaging pollutants such as fine particles and carbon monoxide.
In poorly ventilated dwellings, smoke in and around the home can exceed acceptable levels for fine particles 100-fold. Exposure is particularly high among women and young children, who spend the most time near the domestic hearth.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 4.3 million people a year die from the exposure to household air pollution.
Pests live where they are not wanted or cause harm to crops, people, or animals. Even though pesticides can help get rid of them, it is good to be aware that pesticides are not just insect killers, they also include chemicals to control weeds, rodents, mildew, germs, and more. Many household products contain pesticides.
Pesticides are good for killing germs, pests and plants that could hurt you. However, they can also be harmful to people or pets. You might want to try non-chemical methods first. If you do need a pesticide, use it correctly. Be especially careful around children and pets. Proper disposal of pesticides is also important – it can help protect the environment.
Biologically based pesticides are becoming more popular. They often are safer than traditional pesticides.
So what do you do to ensure your indoor air is healthy?
Here are some general tips for maintaining good indoor air quality in homes. The most effective strategy for reducing indoor air pollution is to eliminate or reduce the sources of contaminants.
- Avoid smoking indoors. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of indoor pollutants at high concentrations.
- Choose low-emitting products that have been third party certified and labelled by reputable organizations.
- Minimize the use of harsh cleaners, solvent-based cleaners or cleaners with strong fragrances.
- Certain activities, such as paint stripping, hobby soldering or gluing, painting, sanding and rock polishing, may create high levels of pollution and should be performed outside the house.
- Control car and appliance exhaust. Do not idle cars, lawnmowers or other engines in the garage, especially those that are attached to the house.
- Buy machine washable bedding. Wash pillows, sheets and comforters weekly to reduce exposure to allergens, including dust mites.
- Consider removing shoes at the door to minimize dust and dirt tracked in from the outdoors.
- Place walk off mats at all entrances to your home.
- Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaners with disposable bags and microfiber cloths for surface dust removal.
- Keep homes dry. Control relative humidity levels to less than 60 percent, using dehumidifiers if necessary. Clean humidifiers frequently.
- If there has been flood or water damage, take immediate action and remove the water and wet materials. Dry all porous materials and furnishings within 48 hours. If mould grows on any porous materials, such as drywall, ceiling tiles or wood, discard and replace.
- Run bathroom exhaust fans while showering.
- Houseplants can improve indoor air quality by filtering carbon dioxide; however, if they are over-watered, they can encourage mould growth.
- Open doors and windows when temperature and humidity levels permit. However, be mindful of outdoor allergens during dry periods.
- Make sure that mechanical filters are in place, that they fit well and that they are changed periodically according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Make sure that fuel burning furnaces, heaters, range tops, exhaust fans and other appliances are vented to the outside well away from windows and heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) intakes.
The above views and suggestions are that of the writer and not this publication or any association. For best solutions, it would be best to consult a professional cleaner and a medical professional.