Throughout the year, ServiceMaster Apple Valley in partnership with Chesprocott Health District, will be submitting articles on health and safety. With January being Radon Awareness Month, the first installment focuses on indoor air quality:
We are officially into winter, when we batten down the hatches and settle indoors for a few months. It’s an excellent time to think about your indoor air quality.
The top five indoor air pollutants are listed below, along with suggestions on testing and/or improving each:
•Radon – Of course, radon is at the top of our list since it’s the best time to test for it. Radon is naturally occurring, has no taste, color or smell, and is naturally released from rocks, soil and water, quietly seeping into our homes and businesses. Exposure causes more than 20,000 deaths annually and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers according to the EPA. The good news is that Chesprocott Health District is offering free radon testing kits to Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott residents on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents can pick up tests at the 1247 Highland Ave. Chesprocott office after calling (203) 272- 2761. There is no charge, but residents must leave a $20 refundable deposit, which is returned when the testing kit is brought back to the office.
•Carbon Monoxide – Another invisible pollutant, carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and poisonous gas. According to OSHA, CO can be inhaled when mixed with other gases that you can smell, yet we may still be oblivious to the presence of CO. Initial symptoms of poisoning may include headache, drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness, and chest tightness, but be aware that signs may vary for different individuals. Your best line of defense is an up-to-date smoke detector that will sound off if there is smoke or carbon monoxide. Additionally, be sure to refresh the batteries at least once a year. If the alarm does go off, or you suspect you may have CO, check anything in your home that creates fumes such as stoves, lanterns, indoor grills, fireplaces gas ranges or furnaces, and remove it or get it repaired.
•Asbestos – It’s no secret that asbestos is a serious health hazard and many regulations are in place to protect consumers. According to OSHA, there is no safe level of exposure for any type of asbestos fiber. However, when homeowners tackle DIY house repairs, many are unknowingly disturbing asbestos during their renovations. The most common areas containing asbestos are floors and drywall. ServiceMaster Apple Valley, which provides disaster recovery services, encourages DIYers to have any questionable materials tested before disturbing. If it’s not possible to complete your project without disturbing asbestos, ServiceMaster Apple Valley can recommend a certified asbestos abatement team to safely remove this dangerous substance.
•Mold – It’s not just the slimy, black stuff seen on bathroom grout when not frequently cleaned; mold can also lurk in areas you never thought of indoors. According to the EPA, hidden sources of mold include inside walls around pipes (when condensation or small leaks are present), the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation). It thrives in high humidity environments, and can cause a stuffed nose, eye irritation and wheezing, especial for those with lung related health issues. For the DIYer, ServiceMaster Apple Valley stresses the importance of getting the mold tested first to know if you are dealing with toxic mold. Be sure to wear PPE (personal protective equipment), such as air-tight masks with ventilation, and the homeowner must encapsulate the work area with plastic sheeting to prevent mold spores from traveling to other areas of the home When in doubt, call a professional. To read more on mold recognition and steps to take, go to https://www.
•Smoke – There’s several sources of indoor smoke that seriously affect air quality. The most obvious is tobacco smoke. Whether first or second-hand smoke, both affect the lungs with over 7,000 substances supporting its carcinogenic label. But less obvious offenders include wood smoke and even candle smoke. Although candle smoke is minimal, burning paraffin wax may leave soot particles airborne hours after being extinguished. The more robust smoke to cause concern is wood smoke, which is a combination of gases and microscopic particulate matter. Even with an airtight woodstove, it’s critical to ensure the venting is done properly to ensure the little bit of gases, creosote, and smoke left from the fire go directly outside the home.
If any of the above cause concern, consider a true HEPA filtration air purifier which will remove 97.97% of particulates in the air.