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Air quality and you…

Posted on 10 Jun 2014 0 comments

What a lot of people don’t realize about the air they breathe…

HINT: It may not be as clean as you think.

It is no coincidence that asthma cases have increased by more than 100% over the past 20 years. Or that death rates have tripled since 1976 (on average, 15 people die from asthma per day in North America). Or that the number one reason for emergency room visits in Canada last year was for asthma.

The fact is, worsening respiratory illnesses (e.g., asthma, allergies, multiple chemical sensitivities – MCS), have coincided with the emergence of the indoor air quality epidemic. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns us, indoor air quality has become the nation’s number one environmental health problem. It may be a more serious health problem than outdoor air pollution!

How do we know that indoor air is the culprit?

Firstly, consider that during the last 20 years, we have improved asthma medications (although many still cause a variety of undesirable side effects) and our understanding of asthma tremendously.

Secondly, we know genetics is not the cause of the recent alarming growth in asthma difficulties, since 20-plus years is nowhere near long enough for such a dramatic genetic effect to take place. In which case, this leaves us with the conclusion that the cause is environmental. This makes perfect sense, considering that environmental triggers, or airborne contaminants and allergens trigger most asthma attacks.

Many believe that the air in the great outdoors poses the greater health risk, since pollution and allergens are commonly associated with “outside” air; however, it is the air in our homes, schools, workplaces, and other indoor environments that have the most severe impact on our respiratory systems. To begin with, indoor air is several times more polluted than air outside, as the EPA states, even though it may seem to be clean.

The top four reasons why your indoor air may be making you sick:

  1. Tight buildings, built for energy efficiency, can concentrate indoor pollutants (it’s like putting a plastic bag over your head)
  2. Cleaning chemicals, chemicals that off-gas from furnishings, pesticides and particulates can circulate in your environment
  3. Water leaks and condensation can cause mold growth (mold loves the materials with which we build our houses)
  4. Microbial growth can occur in your humidifier, furnace and air conditioner, releasing airborne spores

Every indoor environment, regardless of how clean it is, will be filled with bio-pollutants (e.g., over 50% of the weight of the average pillow is microscopic dust mites and their waste), chemical vapors (your home may seem clean, but what did you clean it with . . . chemically based household cleaners!), floating dead human skin (80% of the dust you see floating in your house is dead decaying skin!), and endless other pollutants from numerous sources. It’s interesting that air tight, energy-efficient homes and buildings became a standard about 20 years ago, as a result of the energy crisis in the 1970s, around the same time that asthma problems began rising sharply. Plus, people spend over 90% of their time indoors, meaning that the indoor environment has a far greater impact upon our health one way or the other.

Furthermore, a recent study found that the allergen level in well-insulated homes is 200% higher than is found in warmer climates.

The air in your home may be causing headaches, watery eyes, a tired run down feeling, sneezing, itching, coughing, runny nose, nasal congestion, difficulty concentrating and aggravation of asthma and allergies!

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