Poor Air Exchange
Jason Earle is an indoor air-quality expert and the founder of Lab Results, LLC, an air-quality consulting firm based in Princeton, New Jersey. When he was 4, his family was devastated to learn that he had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. After his persistent mother demanded a second opinion, a different picture emerged. Earle actually had asthma compounded by pneumonia and was allergic to nearly everything in his environment.
When Earle was 12, his family moved from their home, and, like Salomon, he found that his situation improved—the allergies and his asthma virtually disappeared. Earle blames his health problems on a chronically damp environment and indoor mold growth. It is not hard to see why household air quality became a passion for him.
"Poor air exchange is an all-too-common problem," says Earle. "Modern climate control systems are so comfortable that people rarely open their windows anymore. This allows a build-up of chemicals from some furnishings, certain building materials, cleaning products, cooking, and other normal household activities to accumulate."
According to Earle, even breaking out the vacuum cleaner can do more harm than good, as most vacuums simply catch large particles and redistribute smaller dust particles back into the house. "Many homeowners often find that they have to dust the day after vacuuming," he says. "The key is to purchase a HEPA-filtered (high efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaner and use a damp cloth to wipe surfaces of excess dust."
Poor air exchange and inadequate cleaning can contribute to allergies, upper-respiratory problems, asthma, chronic sinus problems, headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
Many people are turning to air filters and purifiers to improve the quality of their indoor air. "With the exception of the 'ionic' or ozone-generating machines, any HEPA filter is better than no filter," says Earle. "Most homeowners mistakenly think that the filter on their furnace is enough. In truth, this filter is designed to minimize dust accumulation inside the furnace's air handler. It is important to change them regularly, but make no mistake, the impact on overall air quality within the home is minimal." In addition to a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner, Earle believes every household should also have a HEPA air cleaner.