Air Quality

Air Quality

We hear about air quality from many sources, from the weather report to vacuum cleaner commercials. The air we breathe can carry many tiny particles that will affect your health, especially if you are an allergy sufferer. Common contaminants in the air include dust, pollen, and smoke. Air in well-insulated houses can concentrate not only these contaminants but fumes and vapors from household chemicals like chlorine bleach and cleaners. Getting enough fresh air where you live may be as simple as opening a window or as complex as filtering and ensuring proper humidity in an apartment or office HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) system. Use of smoke removers and air filters (either electrostatic or HEPA) may improve indoor air quality.

Recently Answered

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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    Research done decades ago by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found that certain house plants can actually "clean the air" of pollutants and dust. A growing amount of plant researchers are identifying various plants that will remove pollutants from your home or place of business. These plants are peace lily, English ivy, weeping fig, devil's ivy, flamingo flower and mother-in-laws tongue. It is estimated that the average size home will benefit from between 6-12 plants.
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Home air filters sound like they'd be the best things for your lungs since snorkeling tubes. After all, when used and maintained properly, they can filter allergens out of the air.

    Unfortunately, many people don't see big benefits after bringing an air filter home. Why? The primary reason isn't a mechanical malfunction, but an owner malfunction. Most people don't service the air filters regularly, so they're not that effective. They don't clean or change components as the directions recommend. If you stick to regular maintenance, however, air filters can be useful for taking allergens out of the air.
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered

    Open your home to the outside world as frequently as you can, since the inside of a home generally has three to four times the pollutants and particles that are most dangerous to us. If you don't air it out, you increase the chance that these pollutants will build up.

    Indoor air quality has plummeted because our homes are more airtight and we're using many more products to freshen the air, sanitize the home, and treat fabrics. And remember that your favorite "clean" smell is often caused by chemicals that are present to mask the noxious odor of other chemicals. Plus, 15 percent of us are allergic to the common fragrances.



    To compound the problem, we're spending more time indoors. So make sure to open your windows as often as possible and bring fresh air in (even once a week in the heat of summer or cold of winter).

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    A Allergy & Immunology, answered on behalf of
    Indoor air can contain harmful allergens and irritants that cause respiratory allergies or skin allergies.  If you notice that when you are away from the home for several days or weeks and your condition improves and gets worse when you return, that would indicate that you may have an air quality problem.
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    According to a 1997 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, formaldehyde is normally present in both indoor and outdoor air at low levels, usually less than 0.03 parts of formaldehyde per million parts of air (ppm). Materials containing formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas or vapor into the air. One source of formaldehyde exposure in the air is automobile tailpipe emissions.

    During the 1970s, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was used in many homes. However, few homes are now insulated with UFFI. Homes in which UFFI was installed many years ago are not likely to have high formaldehyde levels now. Pressed-wood products containing formaldehyde resins are often a significant source of formaldehyde in homes. Other potential indoor sources of formaldehyde include cigarette smoke and the use of unvented fuel-burning appliances, such as gas stoves, wood-burning stoves, and kerosene heaters.

    Industrial workers who produce formaldehyde or formaldehyde-containing products, laboratory technicians, certain health care professionals, and mortuary employees may be exposed to higher levels of formaldehyde than the general public. Exposure occurs primarily by inhaling formaldehyde gas or vapor from the air or by absorbing liquids containing formaldehyde through the skin.

    This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    Most schools are poorly ventilated. Schools from the '70s were built to have low energy loss -- an admirable goal itself. However, a certain amount of air circulation is required for people in a building, and a percentage of this should be fresh air from outside; some of these building went overboard trying to conserve energy and thus do not meet these standards. A study of radon in schools by the Government Accountability Office (then known as the General Accounting Office) found that over half of those surveyed had poor ventilation, which traps allergens.

    If there is any dampness in a building like this, a toxic mold called Stachybotrys chartium may grow. One school in Connecticut was so moldy that it had to be torn down.
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    As one of only three ways the inside of your body interacts with the outside world (skin and intestines are the others), your lungs can be exposed to a great deal of nasty toxins.

    The outdoor pollutants that mostly affect your lung health appear to be ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and lead. Others include dioxins, asbestos, and particulate matter (those are the particles produced by the combustion of diesel, gasoline, and other fuels, and tobacco smoke).
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    A , Administration, answered

    Many office and factory workers experience headaches, unusual fatigue, itching or burning eyes, skin irritation, and nasal congestion, a dry or irritated throat, and nausea because of the air quality.

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    In 1987, OSHA established a Federal standard that reduced the amount of formaldehyde to which workers can be exposed over an 8-hour work day from 3 ppm to 1 ppm. In May 1992, the standard was amended, and the formaldehyde exposure limit was further reduced to 0.75 ppm.

    This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Quick quiz: Name the person who normally consumes 6 quarts per minute.

    a. Frat guy on his 21st birthday
    b. A car with 300,000 miles on it
    c. A Starbucks addict
    d. You

    The correct answer: D, but it has nothing to do with lager or lattes. It has to do with how much air you take in with each breath-that's enough air to fill 10 million balloons in a lifetime (you gotta feel for the poor graduate student who had to prove that theory).