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Is your home a healthy home?

Dr. Steven Heidinger writes about the need for proper air circulation in a home
Wellness Column by Dr. Steven Heidinger

Often, we take for granted things that we have until we don’t have them.  This happened to me recently at my place of business when we lost airflow through our office for a short period of time.  We have a continuously running fan that stopped continuously running for a few hours and quickly realized what it really does for us.

First off, I was amazed with how quiet it had gotten in the office. This white noise we had gotten used to was no longer there and you hear every little noise in all parts of our building.  More importantly, there was a noticeable staleness to the air we were breathing. In our office we have no windows that can open, and aside from one door that opens for patients to enter our building, there really is no fresh air that comes in when the fan is not running. Thankfully, within a short time, our power came on and the air began circulating again.

This made me wonder, however. Are there any health consequences living or working in non-circulating air?

Indoor air pollution is a potential threat to one’s health. Pollutants can arise from molds, chemicals emitted from building materials, like paint, pressed wood, vinyl flooring and carpeting and even some furniture. Aerosol cans, deodorizers and cleaning products are regular culprits as well. And of course, there are the remnants of tobacco products. When there is limited air circulation, you have to wonder about the accumulation of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans and pets and how it may affect the blood oxygen levels.

Most houses these days are built “airtight” for energy efficiency. Because of this, nearly all houses are built with Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) systems or air to air exchangers that consistently circulate the fresh outside air with indoor air. Unfortunately, older homes were not built with this in mind. As owners of older homes update their windows and doors to more energy efficient products, these homes become more airtight with no air exchange system like the newer homes. In situations like these, it is important to open windows and doors regularly during the day to promote fresher air. 

Regularly opening windows, consistently checking and changing furnace and HRV air filters, using green, chemical-free cleaning products, refraining from using aerosols and keeping green plants throughout your home can go a long way to limit the buildup of air pollutants, creating a healthier home.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  


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