Indoor Air Quality issues in the home today are not just centered on mold growth. There are “many indoor environments that have pollutant levels two to five times higher, and sometimes more than 100 times higher inside than outdoor levels due to occupant activities, building materials, and ambient conditions. “ according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is relevant because, according to the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. If you think about it, unlike two centuries ago when people spent the majority of their time outside, today we eat, sleep, work, study, exercise and conduct most social activities indoors.
As a child growing up, we spent every moment when we weren’t in school, doing homework or chores outside. Winter or summer, it didn’t matter we were out till called in for dinner, especially in the summer. We played stickball, dodge ball, chink and half-ball. When we weren’t playing ball games, we rode our bikes, built tree houses and explored the woods engaging with nature. Almost every organized sport we played with the exception of basketball was outside. In the winter, we never tired of building snow forts and throwing snowballs at each other and buses and cars (which got us into trouble more times than I care to remember). If you can relate to and know some of these games and way of life then you’re probably from my generation.
We can get calls everyday from clients to perform indoor air quality investigations because of visible mold growth or suspected microbial growth. To not be cognizant of other issues aside from mold that might be causing occupant complaints would be unconscionable.
Today, we find children (my own, included) spending the majority of their time inside playing video games, watching TV or on the computer when they’re not doing their homework. What kind of environment have we created for them inside? Let’s think about it for a minute. We don’t build houses out of real wood and plaster like we used to. Today we build and renovate with cabinets and furniture that are made out of particleboard or veneers with glues and adhesives that off gas VOC’s that are known carcinogens. The carpet and finishes we put on our floors today do the same. The chemicals in the air fresheners we use to mask odors are not the answer. This is not to say that the asbestosis and lead based paints used prior to 1978 were not extremely carcinogenic either, but that’s another series of articles to be written. The draperies we hang to decorate have flame retardant chemicals in them, the same goes for children’s pajamas have some of the same chemicals which protect burning, but at what cost. The dry cleaning chemicals used over the past thirty years may have been worse then the so called safe products they’re using today, but the juries still out. Think about the cleaning products under your kitchen counter, what’s really in them. The greener products we’re producing today have many downsides in terms of effectiveness and shelf life – somewhat of a trade-off.
According to the American Lung Association, there are 23 million Americans currently suffering from asthma, 7.1 million of them children, whose developing lungs are particularly susceptible to asthma triggers. Education and awareness are the keys in ensuring that we as parents and grandparents are doing everything we can do to protect our loved ones against these factors that make them susceptible and sensitized to mold and other triggers. According to recent studies pointing to the correlation between damp spaces and mold is obvious to environmental consultants, but this connection to mold and health effects is going unnoticed by many outside the industry.
An indoor air quality assessment to determine whether there are issues with elevated VOC’s or microbial growth is a step in the right direction. If you need mold remediation then take instruction from us on how to perform it yourself or find a certified mold remediation contractor.
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