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Air Cleaners

AIR QUALITY AND YOUR HEALTH

 

Air Quality

Air quality is vital for every living organism: humans, animals and plants. We can choose to not swim in polluted water, and to purify our drinking water, but we can't choose not to breathe. Typically, an adult breathes in 11,000 litres of air everyday.

Airborne Toxins

The main problem with airborne toxins is that they tend to concentrate indoors; often being 10-20% higher in density than outdoors. Airborne main toxins include:

Smoke

Smoke can be from a number of sources:

Burning garden rubbish - producing tonnes of fine particles, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons; . the same pollutants that cars produce. Garden fires also produce a whole range of other toxic and carcinogenic compounds, including dioxins. These are all dangerous to our health.

Household fires - in many cities burning coal has been banned; and in New Zealand one can no longer install a wood burning fire into a home. Household fires contribute significantly to air pollution, and where wet and treated wood is burnt, the toxic effect of the smoke is extremely damaging to health.

Cigarette Smoke - there are many many studies that prove that second-hand cigarettes smoke causes the same health concerns as if one smoked the cigarette themselves. The developing lungs of young children are severely affected by exposure to secondhand smoke.

Reduce Smoke Toxins By:

  • Ensuring chimneys and flues that areproperly installed or maintained.
  • Keeping rooms ventilated when fires are being used
  • Not burning garden rubbish
  • Smoking cigarettes outdoors; and away from other people.

For information on home air cleaning systems

 

Gas Pollutants

The main gas pollutants in households are:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)
  • Nitrogen Oxide

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is insidiously dangerous as it is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home.

Health Effects: At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

Incomplete oxidation during combustion in gas ranges and unvented gas or kerosene heaters may cause high concentrations of CO in indoor air. The CPSC Recommends Carbon Monoxide Alarm for Every Home.

For Further Information:

American Lung Association Fact Sheet on Carbon Monoxide

Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Fact Sheet on Carbon Monoxide (a pdf file)

U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health "Carbon Monoxide Poisoning"

 

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

The two most prevalent oxides of nitrogen are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO). Both are toxic gases with NO2 being a highly reactive and corrosive oxidant. The primary sources indoors are unvented combustion appliances: gas stoves, vented appliances with defective installations, welding, and tobacco smoke.

Main Sources of CO2 and NO2 - Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke.

Health Effects: eye, nose, and throat irritation. May cause impaired lung function and increased respiratory infections in young children.

CO2 and NO2 Toxins may be reduced in the home by:

  • Keeping gas appliances properly adjusted.
  • Using a vented space heater
  • Using proper fuel in kerosene space heaters
  • Using exhaust fans vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
  • Opening flues when fireplaces are in use.
  • Choosing properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
  • Having a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly.
  • Not idling the car inside garage.

 

Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)

Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids such as: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.

Health Effects: VOC's cause: eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics are suspected of causing cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.

Reduce VOC Toxins By:

  • Keeping out of reach of children and pets.
  • Using household products according to manufacturer's directions. [Masks and Gloves]
  • Making sure you provide plenty of fresh air when using these products.
  • Throwing away unused or little-used containers safely.
  • Never mixing household care products unless directed on the label.

Air Cleaner

For information on home air cleaning systems

 

Biological Contaminants

Biological Contaminants include bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen.

Reduce Bilogicial contaminants by:

  • Controlling the relative humidity level in a home, the growth of some sources of biologicals can be minimized. A relative humidity of 30-50 percent is generally recommended for homes.
  • Avoiding standing water, water-damaged materials, or wet surfaces also serve as a breeding ground for molds, mildews, bacteria, and insects.
  • Keeping the house clean, dry and ventilated - house dust mites, the source of one of the most powerful biological allergens, grow in damp, warm environments.
  • Keeing humidifiers, home heating and cooling systems clean - some diseases, like humidifier fever, are associated with exposure to toxins from microorganisms that can grow in large building ventilation systems. However, these diseases can also be traced to microorganisms that grow in home heating and cooling systems and humidifiers.

For more information on reducing exposure to biological contaminants

For information on home air cleaning systems

 

Asbestos

The most dangerous asbestos fibers are too small to be visible. After they are inhaled, they can remain and accumulate in the lungs. Asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest and abdominal linings), and asbestosis (irreversible lung scarring that can be fatal).

Asbestos is most commonly found in older homes, in pipe and furnace insulation materials, asbestos shingles, millboard, textured paints and other coating materials, and floor tiles.

For Information on Prevention and Toxic Substances Asbestos

For information on home air cleaning systems

 

Lead

In 1991, Lead was named as the "number one environmental threat to the health of children in the United States."

Humans are exposed to lead through air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint, and dust.

Before it was known how harmful lead could be, it was used in paint, gasoline, water pipes, and many other products. When lead-based paint is improperly removed from surfaces by dry scraping, sanding, or open-flame burning, high concentrations of airborne lead particles are released into the home. Lead dust can also be from outdoor sources, including contaminated soil tracked inside, and use of lead in certain indoor activities such as soldering and stained-glass making.

To Reduce Exposure to Lead Toxins:

  • Avoid disturbing lead-based paint undisturbed if it is in good condition; do not sand or burn off paint that may contain lead.
  • Do not remove lead paint yourself.
  • Do not bring lead dust into the home. Change clothes and use doormats before entering your home.
  • Eat a balanced diet, rich in calcium and iron.

For information on home air cleaning systems

 

Pesticides

A recent survey revealed that 75% of U.S. households used at least one pesticide product indoors during the past year. Products used most often are insecticides and disinfectants.

Pesticides used in and around the home include products to control insects [insecticides]), termites [termiticides], rodents [rodenticides], fungi [fungicides], and microbes [disinfectants]. They are sold as sprays, liquids, sticks, powders, crystals, balls, and foggers.

Health Effects: Irritation to eye, nose, and throat; damage to central nervous system and kidney; increased risk of cancer. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, muscular weakness, and nausea. Chronic exposure to some pesticides can result in damage to the liver, kidneys, endocrine and nervous systems.

To Reduce Pesticide Toxins in the Home:

  • Use strictly according to manufacturer's directions.
  • Mix or dilute outdoors.
  • Apply only in recommended quantities.
  • Increase ventilation when using indoors. Take plants or pets outdoors when applying pesticides/flea and tick treatments.
  • Use non-chemical methods of pest control where possible.
  • If you use a pest control company, select it carefully.
  • Do not store unneeded pesticides inside home; dispose of unwanted containers safely.
  • Store clothes with moth repellents in separately ventilated areas, if possible

 

Recommended Products

For information on home air cleaning systems


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