aAir pollution is routinely easy to ignore, but over the past few decades, researchers have accumulated a compelling list of evidence that it can pose a major threat to human health. . mental health and childhood development to heart disease. Recent events, such as the train crash that released toxic chemicals into the air in eastern Palestine, Ohio, in early February have put such risks in the spotlight, and the air many people across America breathe. I came to reconsider the safety of
The home is where many people feel the safest, but that may not be entirely the case when it comes to air pollution. There is also sexuality. There are a few things you can do as individuals to protect your family from the effects of home air pollution.
When should you consider testing your home’s air quality?
Some experts recommend testing air quality if you are interested in a specific contaminant, rather than assessing air quality in general in most cases. In the opinion of Jeffrey Siegel, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto who studies indoor air, the more common home tests usually don’t justify the cost. “Often the reason for doing indoor air measurements is to confirm problems that are known to exist, rather than to find new problems,” he says.
When it is known that a home may have been exposed to a possible source of pollution, as was the case with the East Palestinian train wreck, which is fairly rare, more extensive testing of air quality is required. A situation that makes a lot of sense. For example, if your home had asbestos restoration, you might want to test it to make sure it was removed.Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan. In such cases, Batterman recommends testing for specific toxins. If your home feels “stuffy” or “wet,” Batterman also suggests testing your CO2 levels and humidity to make sure your home is properly ventilated.
Another toxin to watch out for is radon.Odorless gas is the leading environmental cause of all cancers According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventionand is responsible for approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. According to the Environmental Protection AgencyRadon occurs naturally in rocks and soil and can leak into your home anywhere it comes in contact with the ground, especially through cracks in foundations, French gutters, and sump pumps.Environmental Protection Agency Recommendation If someone spends a significant amount of time in the lower floors of your home (such as using the basement as a bedroom) or if you are buying a new home, do a radon test. Radon Her levels vary geographically, so Siegel also recommends checking maps provided by your state or local health department to see if you live in an area where radon is high.
Another concern is carbon monoxide. It is an odorless, flammable, and toxic gas that can leak from many places in your home, including gas stoves, space heaters, and vehicles (such as those in attached garages). CDC Recommendation The heating system and gas appliances are serviced annually and battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors are installed.
How much does an air quality test cost?
The cost of air quality testing depends on many factors, including the number of toxins tested, the frequency of testing, and the sensitivity of the testing. Some tests, such as home tests for radon, can cost between $10 and $30, according to the FDA. home adviserDepending on where you live, your state or local health department may offer free radon tests. But professional radon tests cost as much as $800, he said. home adviserOn the other hand, air quality testing for asbestos requires about $287 to $585professional testing for volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde can be expensive $200-$300 per sample.
Citizens can also get free air quality testing after a disaster. Since the East Palestinian disaster, the EPA told her TIME it has helped air quality screenings in 600 homes. This was paid for by Norfolk Southern, the railroad company that operated the train.
Why are air quality tests so expensive?
Testing air for particularly uncommon chemicals requires three expensive things: special equipment, expertise, and time.
John Durant, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Tufts University, says advanced air quality testing requires hiring experts to collect and test samples and analyze the data. Moreover, after an incident like the East Palestine disaster, multiple tests have to be performed for the same group of chemicals. Ideally, samples should be collected in different parts of the house, in different weather conditions, and in different seasons, says Durant. In spring, for example, chemicals can be released as the ground softens.
What should I do if I find air toxins in my home?
Once you have identified the air toxins in your home, your next steps depend on whether the pollutant is coming from outside or originating from an indoor source. In the event of a likely disaster, Siegel recommends using vinyl sheets and tape to seal your home, especially on lower floors and in the winter. At the very least, keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. For radon contamination, EPA recommends sealing Cracking the foundation and installing vents and fans.
For a more high-tech solution, Siegel suggests using heating and air conditioning systems to create “positive pressure.” That means putting a system like this in a setting that filters the incoming air and creates more pressure indoors than outdoors. If such a system is not already installed, adding this option could be easier in more modern homes, which tend to be more airtight, Siegel says. The first step is to ask your contractor if it’s possible.
Portable, plug-in air filtration systems also help remove particulate matter (dust and soot from wildfires, cars, construction equipment, etc.) from the air “continuously and quietly,” says Durant. say. Some systems are purchased or Modified with a filter that can absorb more contaminants for air. For example, activated carbon can absorb gases.
As for indoor sources of pollution, cooking on a gas stove, spraying beauty products, and buying a new sofa may seem harmless, but they can add toxins to the air in your home. If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home, Batterman recommends three steps: Eliminate or control it and use ventilation and filters where necessary. “
One of the major sources of pollution is combustion, the process of burning something. For example, cooking on a gas stove can leak various toxins such as nitric oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide, so Durant recommends using vents during and after cooking. If so, don’t burn things in your home, especially if someone has breathing problems such as asthma or COPD. This includes burning candles and incense. Just because it smells good doesn’t mean it’s safe. And bad odors aren’t always dangerous, says Siegel. “Smell is not a good indicator of anything,” he says. (However, gas companies add mercaptans, irritating gases, to natural gas so that you can smell it. If you smell gas, you should leave your home and call the gas company or 911. I have).
Everyone should consider putting portable air filtration systems around their homes and changing the filters regularly, says Siegel.they are particularly useful Particulate matter removal, he says, is not safe on any level. “The lower your concentration, the safer you are,” Siegel says.
The CDC is wide range of resources about how to protect your family, including about lead, asbestos and other toxins. And if you’re concerned that you or a loved one is in imminent danger, National Poison Hotline (1-800-222-1222) is a useful resource in the United States.
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