Healthy Indoors Magazine - USA Edition

HI April 2018

Healthy Indoors Magazine

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Page 30 of 51

Healthy Indoors | 31 When humidity is too high, mold, sickness, dust mites, insects, and other irritants proliferate. Childhood asthma has now been causally linked to damp buildings. This is a growing problem because today's kids spend less time outdoors than maximum security inmates! When it's too dry, particulates and flu can become prob- lems as well as dry skin, nosebleeds, and other respiratory issues. I'd argue that humidity is the most important thing to control in most climates, since it has so many direct health effects and home performance impacts. Humidity also af- fects other common pollutants like chemicals, ozone, and dust. Particulate matter (aka dust) has been linked by the World Health Organization to increased respiratory dis- ease, heart disease, and lung cancer. A recent University of Bergen - Norway study found that consistently using house- hold cleaners (which contain VOCs) is equivalent to a one pack a day cigarette habit. Since VOC levels are typically much higher indoors than out, this is a growing concern. The Health Thief also robs productivity. He leaves you tired, foggy, irritable, and more prone to chronic and serious illness. Poor IAQ is beginning to be recognized as a ma- jor health care cost. I don't want to slip into hyperbole, but mounting research is showing that Indoor Air Quality has surprisingly large effects on us. At 3000 gallons a day, is it really any surprise? Unfortunately, this is a problem that only becomes ap- parent over the long term. It's also invisible. We humans are terrible at dealing with problems like this. We need urgent, visible problems to act. In our experience keeping the Health Thief at bay is not that difficult, but first we have to care. Next we have to ex- pose his work by shining a light on it and making the invis- ible, visible. Once we care enough to track IAQ, and we have some understanding of when the health thief shows up, we can build a plan to stop him. Wedding Photos vs. Security Footage While high resolution testing can be useful for tracking down specific contaminants (i.e. the contents of dust, VOCs or mold), all they are is a snapshot in time. They usually don't give a picture of the whole house, just of the specific place tested at the moment it was tested. Those have their use in identifying causes of chemical and mold sensitivities, but for our purposes it's a bit like hiring a SWAT team when you really need a fly swatter. High resolution snapshots have value, not unlike wed- ding photographs, but if we're trying to catch a thief he's unlikely to stand still for the camera. How are thieves caught? Often with security footage. It's low resolution, but it is running all the time. IAQ monitors do the same thing when you want to catch a health thief.

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