Quick Tip #22
Three Steps to Cleaner Indoor Air
1. Source control: Don’t bring it indoors.
2. Ventilate: Dilute with fresh air.
3. Filtration: Some technologies help clean the air. Avoid ion- or ozone-generators.
Use plants indoors. Several have been shown to remove VOCs from the indoor air. Recommended plants include: Dracaena, areca palm, ferns, English ivy, peace lily, mums and daisies, spider plants, mother-in-law tongue. Plants are not the most effective way to remove VOCs, but they are the least expensive and have the added benefit of providing oxygen while eliminating carbon dioxide (what we exhale).
(See more Quick Tips in our other pages.)
Issue: Electromagnetic Fields
Why It’s Important? An extensive review of the scientific and medical peer-reviewed literature regarding exposures to electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) concluded that the following diseases have a “limited” evidence of association with electro-magnetic exposures:
• Adult-onset Leukemias*
• Brain cancer (adult)*
• Brain cancer (childhood)
• Breast cancer
• Childhood Leukemias
• Fetotoxicity (miscarriage/ spontaneous abortion, stillbirth)
• Myelodysplastic syndrome (pre-leukemia)
• Testicular cancer
*Adult-onset leukemia is a general category including acute and chronic leukemia. Brain cancer includes gliomas, meningiomas, astrocytomas and other brain and Central Nervous System tumors.
Explanation: We are in a relatively constant exposure. However the most concerning exposures are those we have control over.
Solution: Reduce the use of cell phones by children and teens. Keep cell phones away from your head. Have your home assessed for EMFs and learn the steps for reducing exposures.
WHAT TO EXPECT
At the completion of our evaluation, we will provide you with:
- Written report with our findings.
- Information about potential dangers and best practices that you can use.
- Prioritized recommendations for creating a healthier indoor environment.
- Phone consultation following the submission of our report.
Here’s how others have benefited from our services and have made use of our recommendations and our guidance:
LISA, BUCKS COUNTY
Lisa had recently moved into a townhouse in Bucks County when she started to experience nausea, and headaches. Because she has a home office, Lisa was spending most of her time indoors. She was also interested in filtering the indoor air by buying an air cleaner. She had a specific type in mind and wanted our thoughts on whether that would be an effective way to improve her indoor environment.
WHAT WE DID
When Lisa called Healthy Spaces, we suggested we do a home inspection to assess what in her indoor air could be contributing to her symptoms and make recommendations for air cleaners. What we found included an HVAC filter that was improperly sized, allowing particulates to blow around the filter and through the ducts. Also, there was moisture intrusion in the basement that created the conditions that molds need to grow. Additionally, there were household chemicals stored near the return grill for the duct, creating the possibility that Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from the chemicals (off-gassing) would be drawn into the return grill and spread through the house.
HOW IT HELPED
Lisa shared the report’s findings with the owner of the house who committed to making the recommended changes. We also researched air cleaners and suggested to her that she avoid the type she was considering because of its propensity to create ozone, a known lung irritant, and recommended types that would better suit her needs. Lisa was thrilled to have a specialist understand her symptoms, give her home a check-up, and give her the tools to work with her landlord in implementing needed changes.
SARAH, CHESNUT HILL
Sarah was experiencing medical problems due to chemical sensitivity to formaldehyde that developed after remodeling the kitchen. She had already spent tens of thousands of dollars with medical providers finding and beginning to treat the issue. Concerned about ongoing exposure, the family sought help with redoing the kitchen to eliminate formaldehyde. Healthy Spaces offered to help them focus on the health of their home with simpler solutions prior to undertaking another expensive remodeling effort.
WHAT WE DID
We identified problem areas beyond the kitchen including the bedroom, home office and basement where formaldehyde, VOCs and breathable particles could contribute to ill health. Especially important was the issue of VOCs off-gassing from building materials. We also found moisture infiltration issues and took air samples to define concentration and speciation of mold spores. We arranged a visit by a green architect to review the architectural drawings of the moisture problem areas and to discuss solutions. We identified other specialists the family was interested in and interpreted mold and other IAQ tests. Our comprehensive report included prioritized recommendations to help the family take action. Our first recommendations were low cost solutions to resolve these problems.
HOW IT HELPED
Sarah is regaining her health. Our contribution was to help the family look at a complex problem with a focus on getting achievable results by doing small, easy solutions to alleviate poor IAQ throughout the home. The prioritized recommendations made the experience less overwhelming for the family and gave them specific directions to take.