Guest Post by Tony Abate
When old man winter comes knocking most of us try very hard to keep him out of our homes. We all desire a comfortable, energy efficient home; however this may lead to poor indoor air quality and adversely affect our health and well-being. See below a list of common winter situations that can lead to bad indoor air and things you can do about them.
- Air Purification. Sealing up doors and windows and upgrading insulation are great for the heating bill but bad for your health as we re-circulate stale air and contaminants over and over. There are many great new technologies like bi-polar ionization that can remove the contaminants from indoor air that can affect us.
- Airborne Viruses. Everyone knows colds and flu are more prominent in winter. These is not because it’s cold out, but because we are spending more time inside, in tightly sealed spaces and are more likely to spread airborne illness to one another. Purifying your indoor air and ventilating can help reduce the spread of airborne illness.
- Mold. When a cold surface meets warm air, condensation can occur and moisture breeds mold. Be sure insulation and vapor barriers are installed correctly and voids don’t exist that will allow the cold exterior of the home to meet the warmed inside surfaces. Molds produce many symptoms such as allergies, etc that can affect health.
- Chemical Gasses and Odors. The average home contains over 25 gallons of hazardous chemicals according to the EPA. These can range from being odorous, to being irritating and making you sick. In a closed up winter home these gasses can concentrate. Be aware of keeping cleaners, etc in well ventilated spaces and away from living spaces.
- Be Careful with Humidifiers. Many families purchase humidifiers to treat the dry winter air which can produce dry eyes throats, etc. It is essential to perform regular cleaning and maintenance on these units. Moist warm air is a perfect breeding ground for molds and bacteria which can affect health.
- Environmental Stress. These stressors can produce real physical ailments. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is one that affects many people during the darker winter season with depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep disorders, etc. Maximize sunlight exposure and light indoor spaces brightly to minimize these affects. Also bi-polar air ionization has been shown to be beneficial to counter the symptoms of SAD.
- Fresh Air. The EPA states that indoor air is 2 to 5 times worse than outdoor air. Letting in some outdoor air in can be quite helpful to reduce indoor contaminants. Also there are many systems that can integrate with heating systems that can bring in pre-conditioned outdoor air which can improve air quality and energy efficiency.
- Keep the House Clean. It is important to pay special attention to cleaning surfaces, floors, furnishings and carpets, etc to combat odors and spread of bacteria, viruses and germs. Use non-toxic cleaners to avoid airborne chemical irritant build-up.
- Have Your Furnace Checked. It is important to have your furnace checked before heating season begins. Damaged or poorly operating heating systems can emit carbon monoxide, an odorless deadly gas. Also be sure to have to have a carbon monoxide installed to detect and alert to the presence of carbon monoxide.
- Keep the Air Moving. Most heating systems will blow the heated air into the room when the thermostat calls for heat; otherwise the system is off completely. Most systems have a “fan on” option which allows the fan to operate whether the heat is needed or not. This will help air quality as filtration and air purification systems only work when there is air movement. Moving the air will also help to keep it healthy.
Tony Abate is Vice President of Operation for AtmosAir Solutions of Fairfield CT. AtmosAir Solutions markets and installs Green bi-polar clean air devices into homes and offices to improve indoor air quality. More information is at www.atmosair.com.