Breathe In, Breathe Out: Ensuring Indoor Air Quality

 Few things are as important to our health and well-being as the air we breathe,  especially inside our own homes. That is why it is so important for individual  homeowners as well as management to stay up-to-date on issues of indoor air  quality and ensure that everything possible is done to provide a healthy  environment, especially in the winter months when so many of us are spending  time in the warmth of the indoors.  

 Problem Areas

 Staying warm is always priority one in the winter months. That desire to keep  the cold out and the warmth in can lead to problems, though, with air quality. “Ventilation and air exchange is a big component of indoor air quality. Obviously  with the windows open you get a lot of mixture of air with a tendency to dilute  pollutants. During the winter when everything is sealed up you get less  ventilation and what happens, particularly during the heating season is you’ll have the potential for the exhaust gases to affect the indoor air,” says Richard M. Lester, M.S.I. H., president of Garden State Environmental in  Glen Rock. “That can come from a multitude of sources, anywhere where there is combustion,  furnaces and hot water heaters. They are creating heat and burning fuel and  when you burn fuel you generate a variety of exhaust gases.”  

 “The simplest problem is lack of fresh air,” adds David DiMaio, the owner of New Jersey Air Quality, a commercial vent and  duct cleaning company in Haledon. “The average person spends more than 85 percent indoors. If you do not have fresh  air introduced into the home, it can cause a number of things, anywhere from  exhaust or emissions, from appliances laying stagnant in the home (low levels  of carbon monoxide from hot water heater, stove pilot, and exhaust from heating  system), to accumulations of dust allowing food for microbial growth and even  dust mites.”  

 Experts believe that carbon monoxide can be problematic in the wintertime  because potential sources inside a building that may generate carbon monoxide  include gas heating systems, gas stoves, gas hot water heaters and portable  kerosene heaters, appliances which tend to get a workout during the winter  months. Because carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating,  the signs of carbon monoxide exposure can be ignored, or a person may lose  consciousness and be unable to escape. Carbon monoxide detectors can be  purchased from any home improvement store and each home should have one.  

 According to Daniel Emmer, the communications manager for the New Jersey State  Department of Health, 98 people were hospitalized in New Jersey from 2008-2011,  due to unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.  

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