In our last post we discussed many of the reasons that indoor air quality is important in our schools. As stated we are now going to go further into what can be done to ensure that our schools maintain quality indoor air.
The EPA is very helpful in this area. It’s as if they really do actually care about the air our students, faculty and staff are breathing. In 2014 there was a survey taken by the National Center for Educations Statistics that discovered that the average age of our nations schools was 55, meaning they were built around 1959. As you can imagine the standards for indoor air quality since that time have increased dramatically. You can also imagine that a great deal of our buildings are in need of improvement.
That being said, where do we start to make sure our kids are breathing the best air possible in their schools? The first thing to do is to find out if your schools is even concerned with the indoor air quality. Ask the question. Once you’ve gathered that information, get involved. Particularly if your child has allergies or is asthmatic this should be of concern to you. Being vocal and wanting to be part of a solution or action plan is a great way to be involved in your local school and care for your child. The EPA has many valuable resources including an IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit that can give you helpful information to get you started. Educating ourselves, our students our teachers and administrators will go a long way in helping improve the air quality. Of course, that’s just one place to look. I’m quite sure that there are many other valuable resources out there.
Bottom line is we all want the best possible air quality in our children’s schools. The ways in which it can positively affect them are many. Improving the air quality in our schools can have a positive impact on test scores, retention, attendance, teacher satisfaction and retention and even the overall energy efficiency of the building.
Of course, there is a lot that goes into achieving and maintaining high quality indoor air. However, addressing the issue is the first step. If you are thinking about it take the next step and ask the pertinent questions.
Here’s to better breathing for our kids at school!
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Believe it or not just about everyone is back in school. Where did summer go? Hopefully it went wonderfully spent with family and friends making awesome memories. But, back to school. We have discussed at length the indoor air quality in our homes and all the things we can do to make it as clean and healthy as possible. Should we be concerned with the indoor air quality in our children’s schools as well? In a word, yes! It is especially important if you have kids who suffer with allergies and asthma. I believe that this is so important and there is so much information about it I will address it in several blogs.
Maintaining healthy indoor air quality in schools is so important the EPA has even said that doing so can enhance student and staff productivity, improve test scores and maybe even reduce absenteeism. There is a lot more that the EPA has to say about it. I’m going to start this with the reasons why it is import.
Asthma and allergies are among the leading causes of absenteeism in schools. Making sure schools’ indoor air is clean and healthy can rid help reduce the allergens and other things that trigger symptoms in sufferers. The EPA lists problems that can occur if indoor air quality is not maintained at a high level. They say the problems can:
- Impact student attendance, comfort and performance.
- Reduce teacher and staff performance.
- Accelerate the deterioration and reduce the efficiency of the school’s physical plant and equipment.
- Increase potential for school closings or relocation of occupants.
- Strain relationships among school administration, parents and staff.
- Create negative publicity.
- Impact community trust.
- Create liability problems.
There are also symptoms that come with inadequate indoor air quality. Although not all of these symptoms can be directly related to the indoor air quality they are still problematic and could be helped by improving the indoor air. The symptoms are as follows:
- Shortness of breath
- Sinus congestion
- and irritation of the eye, nose, throat and skin
“Children breathe more air, eat more food and drink more liquid in proportion to their body weight than adults. Therefore, air quality in schools is of particular concern. Proper maintenance of indoor air is more than a “quality” issue; it encompasses safety and stewardship of your investment in students, staff and facilities.”
We’ll further discuss this issue in the next blog. We will take on the issue of what actions we can actually take to help.
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Of course everyone wants the cleanest indoor air possible. You’ve researched and have implemented a number of things that help you get just that in your home. Air duct cleaning is one of those things that can help considerably. However, how do you know if you actually need to have your air ducts cleaned? That is an excellent question. I’ve found several very important questions that you can ask yourself. Your answers to these questions will be very valuable in helping you to determine if this is something you should do.
So here goes.
Do you have mold, mildew, slime, or other microbial growth? Do you have debris buildup that restricts air-flow? Can you see dust, cobwebs or other debris blowing from ductwork or registers? Is there evidence of insect or rodent infestation? Is there an offensive odor from your ductwork or HVAC system? Does your family of frequent bout of illness or allergies? Do you know if your ductwork happens to be fiberglass? If so, it happens to collect contaminants more easily than sheet metal. Do any of your air ducts have permanent or long-term water damage?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, it could possibly be reason enough to at least check into having your ducts cleaned. It is an excellent investment in your home and your family.
Let us know if we can help!
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Can hardly believe it’s already back to school time! However, it really is. A lot of parents are probably ecstatic while the kids….not so much. One thing that back to school definitely brings is germs. All summer we’ve been outside and active and running around in the sun. We’ve not been all that worried about germs. With school back in session the time to remember germs is now. Now, we are all back in confined spaces with lots of people and everyone’s germs. Isn’t that a lovely thought. Of course, we try to prevent the germs from affecting our families with cleaners etc. That’s not a bad thing. However, we need to be careful what we are using to clean so that we are not attacking the germs at the expense of our indoor air quality.
Should that even be a concern? Only to the point that harsh chemicals release toxins into the indoor breathing environment. It’s a matter of paying attention to what you are using to banish those germs. There are lots of organic products and even things you may have right around the house that are far less toxic to use to destroy those germs.
If you are looking for something right around the house white vinegar is a great way to go. It is not nearly as toxic as chlorine bleach and it is just as effective in wiping out most harmful germs. I located a site that has some great tips for using white vinegar: greenopedia.com/sanitize-naturally Of course, with just a bit of time you can do your own research and come up with what will work best for you.
If home “remedies” are not really your think there are plenty of great “green” products in the stores for you. Either way, there are ways to get rid of the germs and still maintain great indoor air quality. Hope this gives you some food for thought. Happy back to school time!
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You’re probably thinking, “it’s 140 degrees outside, why would I open the windows?” Can’t blame you one bit for that thought. It’s late July and it is HOT! That probably means we’ve had the windows shut tight and quite possibly have contributed to worsening our indoor breathing atmosphere. But, opening the windows seems drastic. Perhaps try opening a window or two in the evening when it has cooled off a bit even just for a little while. It truly can improve the indoor air quality.
If you just can’t bring yourself to cozy up to the thought of opening the windows in the middle of summer, perhaps there is something else that can be done. After all, everyone would like to improve their indoor air. Another great and simple way to do so is to incorporate plants in your decor. Even if you have allergy issues, non-flowering plants can help your indoor air. There are definitely some that are better than others. Here is a list of some of the best ones: Aloe, English Ivy, Rubber Tree, Snake plant, Bamboo Palm, Philodendron, Spider plant, and Golden Pothos. I’m sure there are others, just be sure to do your research before you invest. Of course, if you are similar to me and have absolutely no green thumb you might want to make sure they are also easy to care for.
During this very busy yet fun time of year just wanted to offer up some quick and easy options for continuing to stay on top of making our indoor air quality the best that we can for our families. Enjoy your summer!
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The HEAT is definitely on! Summer is in full swing and I’m definitely feeling it. 90+ almost everyday. WOAH! It got me thinking how this summer heat could be effecting our indoor air quality or if it even does. I found some interesting things regarding this subject.
Apparently the heat does effect the indoor air quality but more as it pertains to the humidity involved in the heat. Too much or too little humidity has a great deal of affect on the indoor air quality.
Too much humidity and the chance of mold and mildew increases immensely. The spores from mold especially can wreak havoc on the indoor air. High humidity also makes it more difficult of the body to keep itself cool. Obviously another downside to high humidity other than poor indoor air quality.
Too little humidity is also not conducive to quality indoor air. Too little moisture in the indoor air can dry out skin, eyes, and nasal passages. These things can irritate allergy symptoms and even make folks susceptible to colds and other respiratory diseases. Yes, I realize that we don’t have too much trouble with low humidity in our neck of the woods. However, if you are using a dehumidifier make sure you don’t have it set to take too much moisture out of your air.
So, what are the best levels of humidity to have in the indoor air in the summertime? Well, OSHA says there is no real level recommended. They say it is a matter of human comfort. However, it is generally recommended in the indoor air quality community to have humidity levels somewhere between 40-65% in the summertime. That is a fairly wide range that will probably accommodate most comfort levels.
So, at least we know that the heat and humidity do have an affect on our indoor air quality. Now it’s up to us to help our indoor air quality as much as we can according to our newly acquired information.
Here’s to summer! And here’s to great indoor air quality!
Source: http://aetinc.biz/newsletters/2010-insights/march-2010, http://www.speedyacservice.com/blog/indoor-air-quality-service/how-to-improve-your-indoor-air-quality-this-summer/
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We’ve been spending a lot of time discussing the indoor air. Decided this blog would be dedicated to enjoying the outdoor air especially since the 4th of July is right around the corner. So, we all spend some amount of time outdoors during the day just going and from all the things we do everyday. That’s okay. But do we really stop to enjoy it? Sometimes as summer gets into full swing we find it too warm to really “enjoy” outdoor activities during the day. How about enjoying some nighttime fresh air? Or, maybe you’ve been enjoying the daytime outdoor fresh air and just want to keep it going. Whichever the case, I thought I’d offer some interesting ideas to help you enjoy the nighttime fresh air.
First idea is to incorporate glow sticks, necklaces, balls, frisbees into the things you have always enjoyed doing during the day. Things such as ultimate frisbee where the participants could wear glow necklaces/bracelets and the frisbee could be one of those cool glow in the dark ones. Or, lawn darts where you piece together glow in the dark necklaces for the targets and use glow in the dark tape to mark the darts. You could even use the same ideas with the old croquet set and us glow in the dark kickballs instead of the balls and mallets. I’m sure you see where I’m going with all of this. There is so much more to enjoying the nighttime fresh air than just sitting around a fire pit (which makes the air not so fresh anyway) and swapping stories. Get up, get moving and get creative. Use what you have and grab some cheap glow “stuff” at your local dollar store. Your kids will love it and you might even have a great time too. Get out there and enjoy the nighttime fresh air!
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It’s summer…even officially on the calendar! For me that means a lot of laundry because everyone is home more. Everyone being home more means more clothes being changed more often (sweat, sports, swimming etc.) which means lots more laundry. Laundry leads me to think of cleaning the dryer lint trap and leads me to thinking about the dryer vent. Then, because of what I do, makes me think about indoor air quality. That’s a long way to say it got me wondering if the dryer vents and/or lint traps have any effect on the indoor air quality of my home.
Answer. Maybe. Of course, you see the lint flying through the air when you clean the lint trap. That may affect the quality of your air temporarily but as soon as the air circulates through you HVAC system and through the high-quality HEPA filters I’m sure you use, that part is taken care of. But, do you use dryer sheets and/or fragrant detergents or fabric softeners? If so, those can have an adverse effect on the quality of your indoor air. Those things are generally created with harsh chemicals that infiltrate your air. Our bodies aren’t naturally equipped to handle such chemicals and therefore can cause adverse affects on our health. It was definitely eye-opening for me.
The other part that I found, upon doing a little research, was that not only can the fragrance filled products we use for our laundry affect the indoor air it can also affect the outside air. That never even crossed my mind. But, when I thought about it, it is very obvious when neighbors are doing laundry. The fragrance filters right out the dryer vents and into our outside air. So, not only could we possibly be polluting the indoor air for ourselves and our guests but we could be polluting the outside air for everyone else. The only true solution for that particular problem is to opt for fragrance free products or make your own and add only natural fragrance.
Of course, another problem with dryer vents is the fire danger that they can become if not properly cleaned regularly. Make sure you are doing that. My research suggested tht over 15,000 fires a year are started by clogged dryer vents. Not only that, but clogged vents prevent your dryer from working properly and can wear them out prematurely.
Who knew simply doing the summer laundry could lead to such questions and possible solutions? Here’s to cleaner indoor air and properly running dryers!
As always, if you have any questions about indoor air quality or are interested in air duct cleaning or air purification please visit our site or give us a call!
Sources: http://createyourhealthyhome.com/improve-your-indoor-air-quality/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3226517/
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Clutter! Is it really a problem? Can it really have an effect on our indoor air quality? In short, yes. By now we are totally engulfed in the new “normal” of summer. Kids at home 24/7. Doors opening and closing more times a day than you can imagine. Things being left everywhere going from one activity to another. And, clutter abounds (at least for a lot of us). Honestly, the fact that it can affect our indoor air quality is probably not even on our radar. We are, most likely, more concerned with the way it looks and the fact we trip over things more often.
One bit of research I found suggested that piles of clutter left undisturbed can harbor pet hair and dander, dust mites, pollen and even mold if the area is damp. These things are especially difficult for those with allergies, asthma or any condition where poor air quality contributes to symptoms. Quite honestly I was surprised at the number of websites with information correlating clutter with indoor air quality.
I found one site that seemed particularly helpful. It not only addressed the correlation between clutter and indoor air quality but it also gave guidelines for knowing if we have an issue with clutter, recognizing it and steps to deal with it. That all seemed very beneficial to me. So, here is the link for that particular site: http://fullercenter.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/default/files/Dealing%20With%20Household%20Clutter.pdf
I hope you find it helpful and that you are working diligently to keep the air you breathe inside your home as clean as possible.
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It seems these days that we are all trying to do better in a lot of areas. We want to be healthier, keep things cleaner, be kinder and, especially these days, save money. Some, if not all, of these areas don’t lend themselves to the saving money part. It seems you have to spend money to eat healthier and exercise and such. Even when you are trying to make your home healthier, particularly the air inside your home, its seems it will cost money! On the surface that is probably true. But, let’s dig a little deeper.
Good indoor air quality can be achieved with a well maintained high efficiency HVAC system. That is good for your health. However, it seems that might not be good for your bank account. Just like a good high quality HEPA filter in said HVAC system is also good for your health, but costs a little more than the cheap non-HEPA version. The bottom line is that spending a little more up front can really save you in the long run. Spending the money to keep your HVAC system in tip top condition and spending the extra on high-quality HEPA filters will save you in so many areas.
First, well maintained HVAC systems run so much more efficiently. This will lower your energy usage and thus the bill. Secondly, high-quality HEPA filters add to the efficiency of your system. Another win. Next, by using the high-quality HEPA filters not only do you add to the efficiency of your system but you cut way down on the amount of allergens that float around in your indoor air. This might very well cut down on the need for allergy medications, doctor visits and, when we get right down to it, the need for an over abundance of tissues (those things can be costly). We haven’t even mentioned the non-monetary benefits such as just breathing cleaner air and feeling better. And how do you even put a price on that!
Bottom line, yes it does cost money to keep your systems well maintained. And it costs a little more to use high-quality HEPA filters. But, in the long run the benefits, both monetary and non-monetary, far outweigh the costs. Give it some thought : )
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