Friday, 1 August 2008

How to Improve Your Home's Indoor Air Quality

(ARA) - There’s been a lot of attention focused lately on the role indoor air pollution plays in our ability to live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, over the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.

The problem is so significant, the Environmental Protection Agency currently lists poor indoor air quality as the fourth largest environmental threat in the United States. EPA studies show that levels of air pollution inside the home are often two to five times higher than outdoor levels.

The problem is due in a large part to efforts to make homes more energy-efficient. New homes have been built increasingly air-tight during the past 15 years. Remodelers are tightening them up as well with new windows, caulking and insulation to prevent cool air from leaking out in the summertime and warm air from escaping during winter. Synthetic building materials used in green building can release harmful chemicals into the air. Dust and mold, and fumes from common household items like air fresheners and scented candles add to the problem.

The result is an increase in the number of indoor pollutants that release gases or particles into the air. They are making thousands of people sick every year. But there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

Here are some of the most common indoor irritants and how to deal with them:

Pollutant: Wet or moist walls, ceilings, carpets and furniture, poorly maintained humidifiers, dehumidifiers and air conditioners.

Health Effects include eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, fever and digestive problems. Can cause asthma, humidifier fever, influenza and other infectious diseases.

Solution: Empty water trays in air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators frequently. Clean and dry or remove water-damaged carpets. Install and use fans vented to outdoors in kitchens and bathrooms.

Pollutant: Cigarette smoke

Health Effects: Can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches and lung cancer, and may contribute to heart disease. Homes with one or more smokers may have particle levels several times higher than outdoor levels.

Solution: Do not smoke in your home or permit others to do so. If smoking indoors can’t be avoided, increase ventilation in the area where smoking takes place. Open windows or use an exhaust fan.

In the past, many people were reluctant to install vent fans because they were noisy and annoying, but technology has come a long way. The Panasonic Home and Environment Company, for example, now offers the WhisperGreen line of ventilation fans that are not only quiet, but up to 460 percent more energy efficient than minimum Energy Star requirements. They have a revolutionary DC motor rated for continuous run, and are equipped with a Smart Action motion sensor that activates when someone enters the room they are installed in. Some models are even equipped with night lights.

“By using simple, affordable solutions, consumers can contribute to environmentally conscious building and, more importantly, protecting themselves from harmful indoor air pollutants,” says Victor Flynn, the company’s National Marketing Manager.

In addition to offering products people can feel good about, The Panasonic Home and Environment Company recently added some new ecological goals to its three-year business plan that completes in March 2010.

* Panasonic will accelerate the development and adoption of energy-saving technologies while eliminating products with poor energy-efficiency.

* Panasonic will reduce CO2 emissions from all its activities worldwide by 300,000 tons.

* Panasonic employees are encouraged to spread environmental activities throughout the world.

WhisperGreen ventilation fans are available through plumbing electrical and HVAC distribution throughout the country. Log on to for a store locator.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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