It’s the end of the year and many people are making New Years Resolutions or New Years Goals. Instead of directly focusing on your own health, how about looking into making a more healthy house? Indoor air quality contributes to the health of residents just as much as that extra serving of vegetables or extra thousand steps per day.
When the summer and autumn fires are raging in California, we are all keenly aware of pollutants. We check PurpleAir.com and replace our filthy air filters faster than usual. Some of us even found ourselves buying air quality monitors for the first time, all in hopes of having a healthy house. When the fires get put out, we may not think much about having a healthy home until another “Spare the Air” day is called.
Healthy House Challenges
This last summer, we were one of many families purchasing an air quality monitor (seen in photo, it was around $120 online). We were surprised at the amount of indoor air pollution caused by frying foods. That was info we tripped into – the monitor was on because of the smoky skies, but it was the friend chicken that sent the PM2.5 score soaring into the 400s. And it took hours for it to come back down to normal (in large part certainly because we could not open our doors and windows to air it out). That was a lesson!
One of the least known but perhaps one of the biggest risks involves gas cooking, as well as the use of other gas appliances, in the home. What many cooking aficionados do not realize is that every single time you cook with gas, you also should be using the vent to clear the gas fumes lest you contribute to a buildup of carbon monoxide (and other pollutants) indoors. (Venting is also crucial with other gas appliances such as the furnace and water heater.)
Carbon monoxide detectors are now mandatory in California homes if there are gas appliances, not just at the point of resale but in all houses, condos, town homes etc. – but even the best devices can fail or have the batteries die, so best to avoid relying on them alone and make sure to use care in venting all gas devices whenever in use. There are some studies indicating that gas cooking and the use of other gas appliances indoors may aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma and increase pulmonary (lung) risk, too. Carbon monoxide is the best known, but not only pollutant, that may come with gas appliances.
Along the same lines, home inspectors suggest that fireplaces with gas logs or jets never fully close, but instead have a small block to keep the damper from sealing completely. This is also so that the carbon monoxide can vent out.
Radon is thought to be a non-issue in California, but Silicon Valley is generally a moderate radon area. Care should be taken particularly in properties with basements and in homes where occupants smoke indoors.
Other issues include mold and dust, which are especially hard on people with allergies or lung disease, but can also irritate eyes. For structures built prior to about 1978, lead may be present too.
When buying or selling residential property in California, the Residential Environmental Hazards booklet is provided. It can be found online via a variety of sources, including the State of California’s website. If you haven’t seen or read this booklet recently, I would like to suggest that you have a look and consider incorporating some of the suggestions and tips in the coming year to make your own home a healthier one:
A last point about this fabulous booklet: do not read right before going to bed!!
Additional information from the World Health Organization can be found here:
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2021!