Here is some helpful information for topics associated with Indoor Air Quality:
An allergy occurs when the body's immune system sees a substance as harmful and overreacts to it. When someone has allergies, their immune system makes an antibody called immunoglobulin E (lgE). These antibodies respond to allergens.The symptoms that result are an allergic reaction. (aafa.org)
Air cleaners with HEPA filters can filter almost 98% of the allergen particles in the air. (aafa.org)
Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs. These airways, or bronchial tubes, allow air to come in and out of the lungs. If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness.
Indoor air triggers can be classified as either irritants or allergens. Irritants include gases such as volatile organic compounds (VOC) that can aggravate the airways and cause inflammation. Irritants also include small particles that can reach the lower regions of the respiratory tract and cause inflammation. Examples of irritants include the following; Smoke, Dust, Chemical odors (VOC's), Mold, and Pets. The use of HEPA filtration systems can trap smaller sized particles. (getasthmahelp.org)
BacteriaSources of indoor bacteria:
- Plumbing system
- HVAC system
Toxic, volatile, flammable liquid hydrocarbon byproduct of coal distillation. Benzene is used as an industrial solvent in paints, varnishes, lacquer thinners, gasoline, etc. Benzene causes central nervous system damage acutely and bone marrow damage chronically and is carcinogenic (cancer causing). (pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
What is Benzene?
Benzene is a chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable. It evaporates into the air very quickly. Its vapor is heavier than air and may sink into low-lying areas. (cdc.gov)
Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. (cdc.gov)
Indoor air generally contains levels of benzene higher than those in outdoor air. The benzene in indoor air comes from products that contain benzene such as glues, paints, furniture wax, tobacco smoke, and detergents. (cdc.gov)
Two big concerns within the indoor grow industry is airborne particulate (mold spore and bacteria) mitigation.
Some effective ways to eliminate airborne bacteria and odors are:
- Activated carbon filtration
- HEPA filtration
- Photo Catalytic Oxidization (PCO) filters with germicidal UVC lamps
- Bi-polar Ionization
Keep in mind that some PCO and Ionization systems can produce ozone.
CarcinogenA carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that promotes carcinogenesis, the formation of cancer. (wikipedia.com)
Over time, exposure to irritants that damage your lungs and airways can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The main cause of COPD is smoking, but nonsmokers can get COPD too. (lung.org)
Smoking poses an enormous threat to the lungs of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) -- and no wonder. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including 43 that are known to cause cancer. Outdoor air pollution is another significant threat. But those are not the only threats to people with COPD, a lung disease that encompasses both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Many homes harbor dust, fumes, germs, and other irritants that aggravate COPD symptoms like wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. The risks are especially high in the 20% of COPD sufferers who also have allergies. You might be surprised at some of the things around the house that can cause trouble. For example, some air filters that help rid the air of dust give off small amounts of ozone, an air pollutant that is a lung irritant. “Ozone can certainly be problematic for people with COPD,” says Byron Thomashow, MD, professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and chairman of the COPD Foundation. “That’s why I usually recommend HEPA filters,” which don’t give off ozone. Here are nine other household hazards for people with COPD; Furnace air ducts, carpeting, cleaning products, dry cleaning chemicals, fireplaces, airborne mold, pet dander/dust, shower heads that harbor bacteria, and toiletries (scented soaps/shampoos/sprays). (webmd.com)
Exposure to dust particles can lead to serious health problems. Coarse particles (found in wind-blown dust) and fine particles (found in smoke and haze) pose the greatest problems because they can get deep into the lungs. Scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to:
- Decreased lung function
- Development of chronic bronchitis
- Increased respiratory symptoms
- Heartbeat irregularities
- Heart attacks
- Hospital admissions or emergency room visits for heart or lung disease. (bouldercounty.org)
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas at room temperature and has a strong odor. Exposure to formaldehyde may cause adverse health effects. (epa.gov)
Formaldehyde is found in:
- Resins used in the manufacture of composite wood products (i.e., hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard)
- Building materials and insulation
- Household products such as glues, permanent press fabrics, paints and coatings, lacquers and finishes, and paper products
- Preservatives used in some medicines, cosmetics and other consumer products such as dishwashing liquids and fabric softeners
- Fertilizers and pesticides
- Emissions from un-vented, fuel burning appliances, like gas stoves or kerosene space heaters
- Cigarette smoke (epa.gov)
High efficiency particulate air (HEPA), originally called high-efficiency particulate absorber but also sometimes called high-efficiency particulate arresting or high-
A True HEPA filter is a long-life filter that removes 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 micron (1/84,000 of an inch) and larger. (fiveseasonsaircleaners.com)
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. (cdc.gov)
Mold is not usually a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. As molds grow they digest whatever they are growing on. (epa.gov)
OdorsThings that can help with odor removal from your home or work space are:
- Air movement: For those times of the year that you're not running your furnace or AC, check to see if your thermostat has a "Fan" setting that allows you to choose between "Auto" and "Run" or "On". Auto only runs your system's fan when there is a call for heat or AC. Run or On will run your HVAC system's fan continuously which helps circulate the air in your home/work space.
- Filtration: Make sure you regularly change your air filters in your furnace.
- Use supplemental HEPA filtration systems (including in your vacuum).
- Use bacteria killing systems like PCO.
OzoneWhat is ozone?
Ozone is a gas composed of three atoms of oxygen (O3). Ozone occurs both in the Earth's upper atmosphere and at ground level. Ozone can be good or bad, depending on where it is found.Good Ozone
Called stratospheric ozone, good ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere, where it forms a protective layer that shields us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. This beneficial ozone has been partially destroyed by man-made chemicals, causing what is sometimes called a "hole in the ozone." The good news is, this hole is diminishing. Learn more about Stratospheric, or "good" ozone.
Tropospheric, or ground level ozone, is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). This happens when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Ozone at ground level is a harmful air pollutant, because of its effects on people and the environment, and it is the main ingredient in “smog." Learn more about air emission sources.
Ozone is most likely to reach unhealthy levels on hot sunny days in urban environments, but can still reach high levels during colder months. Ozone can also be transported long distances by wind, so even rural areas can experience high ozone levels. (epa.gov)
Ozone Limits per the EPA:
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires ozone output of indoor medical devices to be no more than 0.05 ppm.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that workers not be exposed to an average concentration of more than 0.10 ppm for 8 hours.
- The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends an upper limit of 0.10 ppm, not to be exceeded at any time.
- EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone is a maximum 8 hour average outdoor concentration of 0.08 ppm. (epa.gov)
In biology, a pathogen or a germ in the oldest and broadest sense is anything that can produce disease; the term came into use in the 1880s. Typically the term is used to describe an infectious agent such as a virus, bacterium, protozoa, prion, a fungus, or other micro-organism. The scientific study of pathogens is called Pathology. (wikipedia.com)
Bacteria from airborne cigarette smoke can stay airborne for up to 8hrs. (fiveseasonsaircleaners.com)
Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid which becomes a vapor when exposed to air at room temperature. Toluene vapor has a sharp or sweet odor, which is a sign of exposure.
Toluene is typically used in a mixture with other solvents and chemicals such as paint pigments. Products that may contain toluene-such as paint, metal cleaners and adhesives-are used in many industries and can be found in many workplaces. Gasoline and other fuels also contain toluene. Workers using toluene-containing paints, varnishes, shellac, nail polish, glues and adhesives, rust preventives or printing inks may be exposed to toluene.
Workers can be exposed to toluene by breathing it in, getting it on their skin, getting it splashed into their eyes, or swallowing it. These types of exposures may make workers sick immediately or cause effects over time. Toluene exposures have been studied in nail salons and printing establishments, auto repair, and construction activities.
Without proper ventilation and safety precautions, toluene can cause irritated eyes, nose, and throat; dry or cracked skin; headache, dizziness, feeling of being drunk, confusion and anxiety. Symptoms worsen as exposure increases, and long term exposure may lead to tiredness, slow reaction, difficulty sleeping, numbness in the hands or feet, or female reproductive system damage and pregnancy loss. If swallowed, toluene can cause liver and kidney damage. More information about the health hazards of toluene is available here.
OSHA's exposure limits for toluene have been set to prevent effects of long term exposure on the nervous system, however, workers frequently experience symptoms of toluene exposure in activities where exposures are lower than OSHA's present exposure limits. Learn more about exposure limits here.
Toluene is also flammable, and its vapors can be ignited by flames, sparks or other ignition sources. (epa.gov)
VOC'sVolatile organic compounds, or VOCs are organic chemical compounds whose composition makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure. (epa.gov)
- Formaldehyde is one of the best known VOC's. (epa.gov)
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
- Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
- Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. (epa.gov)
- Conjunctival irritation
- Nose and throat discomfort
- Allergic skin reaction
- Declines in serum cholinesterase levels
- Dizziness (epa.gov)
|Examples of Household Products||Possible VOC Ingredients|
|Fuel containers or devices using gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil and products with petroleum distillates: paint thinner, oil-based stains and paint, aerosol or liquid insect pest products, mineral spirits, furniture polishes||BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene), hexane, cyclohexane, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene|
|Personal care products: nail polish, nail polish remover, colognes, perfumes, rubbing alcohol, hair spray||Acetone, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, methacrylates (methyl or ethyl), ethyl acetate|
|Dry cleaned clothes, spot removers, fabric/ leather cleaners||Tetrachloroethene (perchloroethene (PERC), trichloroethene (TCE))|
|Citrus (orange) oil or pine oil cleaners, solvents and some odor masking products||d-limonene (citrus odor), a-pinene (pine odor), isoprene|
|PVC cement and primer, various adhesives, contact cement, model cement||Tetrahydrofuran, cyclohexane, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), toluene, acetone, hexane, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, methyl-iso-butyl ketone (MIBK)|
|Paint stripper, adhesive (glue) removers||Methylene chloride, toluene, older products may contain carbon tetrachloride|
|Degreasers, aerosol penetrating oils, brake cleaner, carburetor cleaner, commercial solvents, electronics cleaners, spray lubricants||Methylene chloride, PERC, TCE, toluene, xylenes, methyl ethyl ketone, 1,1,1-trichloroethane|
|Moth balls, moth flakes, deodorizers, air fresheners||1,4-dichlorobenzene, naphthalene|
|Refrigerant from air conditioners, freezers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers||Freons (trichlorofluoromethane, dichlorodifluoromethane)|
|Aerosol spray products for some paints, cosmetics, automotive products, leather treatments, pesticides||Heptane, butane, pentane|
|Upholstered furniture, carpets, plywood, pressed wood products||Formaldehyde|