Air Quality and Health Tips

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Is there a way to enhance my air purification system for allergy sufferers?

Enhance the Effects of Your Allergy Air Filter

Pollutants aren't the only irritants in the air. Many allergy sufferers buy allergy air filters knowing that with the right air purification system, they can get allergy relief and improved health thanks to the cleaner air provided. Did you know there are additional measures that can enhance the function of air purifier when it comes to allergy relief?

One important way to enhance the effects of your allergy relief air purifier is by lowering the temperature in sleeping areas to between 68 and 72 degrees. According to allergy relief experts, these temperatures promote better sleep for those who struggle with allergic reactions. For those allergic to pet dander, keep the pets out of sleeping rooms, and don't allow them to sleep in the same bed with someone with pet allergies.

   
Does the EPA offer any air pollution resources for schools?

Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Indoor air quality in schools is a growing issue. Are you concerned about particle control in your school? Air purification? The EPA has designed the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools kit to help concerned parents, teachers, and administrators plan improvements in school air quality. If you think your school may need this information, or if you are seeking more information on allergy relief, particle control, and related issues connected to a public school in your area, call the EPA at 1-800-438-4318, get the kit, and to learn how to address the issue.

   
What kind of resources are available when I need an indoor air specialist?

Got Air Quality Problems? Specialists Are Standing By

Did you know that indoor air specialists are standing by to help? One of the best-known sources for such help is the Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-438-4318. As helpful as this hotline is, it is not the only source of assistance. You can get plenty of excellent information on how air pollution affects your asthma and allergies through the Allergy and Asthma Network, at www.aanma.org. That hotline number is 1-800-878-4403. You can also get in touch with the American Lung Association
at 1-800-586-4872 to learn about the physical consequences of overexposure to air pollution.

Sometimes the free advice isn't quite enough, and you'll want the assistance of a trained indoor air specialist. In cases like these, don't operate in the dark! Get started in the right direction by checking with the Indoor Air Quality Association. This site offers excellent consumer advice on what to look for when hiring such an expert to assist you. Did you know that a reputable indoor air specialist should not only be able to furnish you with references, but also certificates of insurance & licenses? It's true; there is a certification body for these experts, the American Indoor Air Quality Council. When you need expert advice, there are plenty of places to turn. The first step is making the call.

   
What does an ozone action day mean to allergy sufferers?

Ozone Action Days Mean Bad Allergies

If you live in a city where ozone action days are a way of life, you will need to pay very close attention to ozone alerts if you suffer from allergies. You may get allergy relief in the home from your allergy air purifier, but did you know that outdoor exercise, yard work or other prolonged exposure to outdoor air during ozone action days will increase your allergy symptoms?

In the case of Ozone Action Days, particle control in the home has little to do with what the ozone does to you outdoors. You may have pure air circulating indoors, but outdoor ozone exposure immediately worsens allergy symptoms. In fact, ozone exposure can cause chronic respiratory inflammation in allergy sufferers within 24 hours. Pay close attention to those reports of ozone action days. Your health depends on it!

   
How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in an emergency?

Exhaust Fumes and Indoor Air Pollution

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Center For Disease Control was asked to investigate 78 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. These cases were all indoor air pollution. The CDC concluded that in each case, diesel-powered generators were to blame. This kind of air pollution can't be remedied by air purification; after all, in an emergency situation where the power is out, running on generator power means running the bare necessities.

It is easy to assume that people foolishly operated generators inside the dwellings, but the CDC report indicates that in every case, the generator was outside the home. It doesn't take an indoor air specialist to figure out that the generators were far too close to the dwellings. The carbon monoxide entered the homes, and remained trapped there.

While the generator situation is obviously a special case, these situations are more common for people living in hurricane zones. Knowing how to safely operate generators and other emergency equipment is vital. Keeping a generator safely away from a dwelling is one of the most important factors, and a carbon monoxide detector is highly recommended by the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control publish a fact sheet on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning after a natural disaster. Click on http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/cofacts.asp to learn how you can keep your family safe.

   
I live in an area with seasonal forest fires. What should I do?

Forest Fires and Air Pollution

Experts say that air pollution can increase allergy symptoms. Those who live in areas stricken by forest fires know the issues of particle control and air purification all to well. California, Montana, Colorado, and many other areas are regularly affected by the air pollution caused by burning forests.

If you live in an area affected by seasonal fires, consider the purchase of an allergy air filter and other particle control equipment to keep your air quality as good as possible. In situations like these air cleaners that use ionization to trap air particles and dust are ideal, as are models that have multiple stage filters to trap particles.

The CDC recommends remaining indoors with the air conditioning on as much as possible when dealing with contaminated air from forest fire conditions. The indoor particle control gained by operating an air purifier can offer much additional comfort.

   
Is there a link between pollution and allergies?

Pollution and Allergies

Recent studies show a direct link to dirty air and increased allergy problems. An allergy relief air purifier is only part of the solution these days, now you will have to pay close attention to all the air particles you breathe, and not just the allergens. Allergy specialists recommend monitoring allergen reports and pollution reports together to determine the severity of your possible symptoms. You can also use these reports in tandem to figure out what settings to set your allergy air filters to. Knowing both pollution and allergy counts are also helpful in determining things such as whether or not to burn wood in fireplaces or wood stoves, mow the lawn, or even clean the house. On days where both counts are bad, you should avoid all those activities.

   
Where do volatile organic compounds come from?

How Can I Tell Where Volatile Organic Compounds Are Coming From?

If you experience symptoms of pollution irritation in the home or office, but can't pin down the source, check a list of the following for possible culprits:

1. New carpets or recent tile installation.

2. New plastic containers, computer accessories, and plastic-coated devices.

3. Improperly stored cleaning materials.

4. New painting.

5. New furniture.

All of these things can emit VOCs. Unfortunately this is not a case of particle control, so any air purification systems you purchase to help deal with the problem must be designed to rid the air of vapors as well as particles. Sometimes a simple ventilation of the area may be all that's needed, other times you'll need air purification.

   
What are volatile organic compounds?

Not-So-Obvious Pollution Sources

Air pollution consists of air particles, and chemical vapors that can be damaging to your health. There are obvious health dangers from vehicle exhaust, carbon monoxide sources, and radon. But what about less obvious health dangers from pollutants that aren't as visible or well known?

One such type of pollution is called volatile organic compounds; chemicals that evaporate at room temperature. These can include chloride, benzene, and toluene. Sources of these compounds include caulks, photocopies, vinyl flooring, air fresheners, and more. If you experience any of the common acute symptoms of pollution irritation in your home or office, you may be experiencing the effects of volatile organic compounds. Health authorities recommend immediate ventilation, air purification, and identification of the source of the problem. If you can't track down the source, you may need to enlist the services of an indoor air specialist to help.

   
Can The EPA help with indoor air issues?

A Scary Statistic

Sources say that Americans spend roughly 90 percent of their time indoors. Did you know that EPA studies indicate indoor pollution can be two to five times higher than outdoor pollution levels? This statistic sends people out of the house in search of air purification solutions, but you may need to speak to an indoor air specialist first to get the right kind of equipment, take the necessary steps, and get on the right track in cleaning up your air. If you need to get in touch with an indoor air specialist, start with the EPA's Indoor Air Quality Hotline. The hotline can give you current state and federal information about your particular indoor air environment.

In addition to this help, many states offer toll-free calls to indoor air specialists, so you should call your state EPA customer service call center after calling the EPA main number. Between these two sets of experts you may be able to identify the main indoor air issues in your home, how they occur, and what you can do about them.

   
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George Sayour