Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
The two most prevalent oxides of nitrogen are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO). Both are toxic gases with NO2 being a highly reactive oxidant and corrosive.  The primary sources indoors are combustion processes, such as unvented combustion appliances, e.g. gas stoves, vented appliances with defective installations, welding, and tobacco smoke.

Contents
•Sources of Nitrogen Dioxide
•Health Effects Associated with Nitrogen Dioxide
•Levels in Homes
•Steps to Reduce Exposure
•Standards or Guidelines
•Additional Resources

Sources of Nitrogen Dioxide
Kerosene heaters, un-vented gas stoves and heaters. Environmental tobacco smoke.
Health Effects Associated with Nitrogen Dioxide
Eye, nose, and throat irritation. May cause impaired lung function and increased respiratory infections in young children.  EPA's Integrated Risk Information System profile for Nitrogen Dioxide.

NO2 acts mainly as an irritant affecting the mucosa of the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory tract. Extremely high-dose exposure (as in a building fire) to NO2 may result in pulmonary edema and diffuse lung injury. Continued exposure to high NO2 levels can contribute to the development of acute or chronic bronchitis. Low level NO2 exposure may cause increased bronchial reactivity in some asthmatics, decreased lung function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and increased risk of respiratory infections, especially in young children.
Levels in Homes
Average level in homes without combustion appliances is about half that of outdoors. In homes with gas stoves, kerosene heaters, or un-vented gas space heaters, indoor levels often exceed outdoor levels.

Basic Information on Pollutants and Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

•Asbestos
•Biological Pollutants
•Carbon Monoxide (CO)
•Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products
•Lead (Pb)
•Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
•Pesticides
•Radon (Rn)
•Respirable Particles
•Secondhand Smoke/ Environmental Tobacco Smoke
•Stoves, Heaters, Fireplaces, and Chimneys
•Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Steps to Reduce Exposure
Venting the NO2 sources to the outdoors, and assuring that combustion appliances are correctly installed, used, and maintained are the most effective measures to reduce exposures.

•Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
•Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an un-vented one.
•Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
•Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
•Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
•Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
•Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly.
•Do not idle the car inside garage.

Monday, January 30, 2012

With a lead pipe in the Ballroom. Lead?


Lead has long been recognized as a harmful environmental pollutant. In late 1991, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services called lead the "number one environmental threat to the health of children in the United States." There are many ways in which humans are exposed to lead: through air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint, and dust. Airborne lead enters the body when an individual breathes or swallows lead particles or dust once it has settled. Before it was known how harmful lead could be, it was used in paint, gasoline, water pipes, and many other products.
Old lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure in the U.S. today. Harmful exposures to lead can be created when lead-based paint is improperly removed from surfaces by dry scraping, sanding, or open-flame burning. High concentrations of airborne lead particles in homes can also result from lead dust from outdoor sources, including contaminated soil tracked inside, and use of lead in certain indoor activities such as soldering and stained-glass making.
Where does one find lead?  It’s in lead-based paint, contaminated soil, dust, and drinking water.  In drinking water, I mean really.  That is why everyone should filter their water.  City water is polluted.
Lead affects practically all systems within the body. Lead at high levels (lead levels at or above 80 micrograms per deciliter of blood) can cause convulsions, coma, and even death. Lower levels of lead can cause adverse health effects on the central nervous system, kidney, and blood cells. Blood lead levels as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter can impair mental and physical development.
The effects of lead exposure on fetuses and young children can be severe. They include delays in physical and mental development, lower IQ levels, shortened attention spans, and increased behavioral problems. Fetuses, infants, and children are more vulnerable to lead exposure than adults since lead is more easily absorbed into growing bodies, and the tissues of small children are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Children may have higher exposures since they are more likely to get lead dust on their hands and then put their fingers or other lead-contaminated objects into their mouths.
Steps to Reduce Exposure to Lead
  • Keep areas where children play as dust-free and clean as possible.
  • Leave lead-based paint undisturbed if it is in good condition; do not sand or burn off paint that may contain lead.
  • Do not remove lead paint yourself.
  • Do not bring lead dust into the home.
  • If your work or hobby involves lead, change clothes and use doormats before entering your home.
  • Eat a balanced diet, rich in calcium and iron.
Keep areas where children play as dust-free and clean as possible.
Mop floors and wipe window ledges and chewable surfaces such as cribs with either a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead. Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly. Make sure that children wash their hands before meals, nap time, and bedtime.
Reduce the risk from lead-based paint.
Most homes built before 1960 contain heavily leaded paint. Some homes built as recently as 1978 may also contain lead paint. This paint could be on window frames, walls, the outside of homes, or other surfaces. Do not burn painted wood since it may contain lead.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Did something die in here?


Formaldehyde is an important chemical used widely by industry to manufacture building materials and numerous household products. It is also a by-product of combustion and certain other natural processes. Thus, it may be present in substantial concentrations both indoors and outdoors.
Sources of formaldehyde in the home include building materials, smoking, household products, and the use of un-vented, fuel-burning appliances, like gas stoves or kerosene space heaters. Formaldehyde, by itself or in combination with other chemicals, serves a number of purposes in manufactured products. For example, it is used to add permanent-press qualities to clothing and draperies, as a component of glues and adhesives, and as a preservative in some paints and coating products.
In homes, the most significant sources of formaldehyde are likely to be pressed wood products made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins. Pressed wood products made for indoor use include: particleboard (used as sub-flooring and shelving and in cabinetry and furniture); hardwood plywood paneling (used for decorative wall covering and used in cabinets and furniture); and medium density fiberboard (used for drawer fronts, cabinets, and furniture tops). Medium density fiberboard contains a higher resin-to-wood ratio than any other UF pressed wood product and is generally recognized as being the highest formaldehyde-emitting pressed wood product.
Other pressed wood products, such as softwood plywood and flake or oriented strand board, are produced for exterior construction use and contain the dark, or red/black-colored phenol-formaldehyde (PF) resin. Although formaldehyde is present in both types of resins, pressed woods that contain PF resin generally emit formaldehyde at considerably lower rates than those containing UF resin.
Since 1985, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has permitted only the use of plywood and particleboard that conform to specified formaldehyde emission limits in the construction of prefabricated and mobile homes. In the past, some of these homes had elevated levels of formaldehyde because of the large amount of high-emitting pressed wood products used in their construction and because of their relatively small interior space.
The rate at which products like pressed wood or textiles release formaldehyde can change. Formaldehyde emissions will generally decrease as products age. When the products are new, high indoor temperatures or humidity can cause increased release of formaldehyde from these products.
During the 1970s, many homeowners had urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) installed in the wall cavities of their homes as an energy conservation measure. However, many of these homes were found to have relatively high indoor concentrations of formaldehyde soon after the UFFI installation. Few homes are now being insulated with this product. Studies show that formaldehyde emissions from UFFI decline with time; therefore, homes in which UFFI was installed many years ago are unlikely to have high levels of formaldehyde now.
Pressed wood products (hardwood plywood wall paneling, particleboard, and fiberboard) and furniture made with these pressed wood products. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI). Combustion sources and environmental tobacco smoke. Durable press drapes, other textiles, and glues.
Formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas, can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million). High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop sensitivity to formaldehyde. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans.  Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions. May cause cancer and may also cause other effects listed under "organic gases." 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The silent killer!


Every house and living space needs a carbon monoxide detector installed.  If you have gas in your home or if you don’t you just never really know.  I have read several stories and you have too about entire households found dead the next day from carbon monoxide.  Here is more information.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.
Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke. Incomplete oxidation during combustion in gas ranges and unvented gas or kerosene heaters may cause high concentrations of CO in indoor air. Worn or poorly adjusted and maintained combustion devices (e.g., boilers, furnaces) can be significant sources, or if the flue is improperly sized, blocked, disconnected, or is leaking. Auto, truck, or bus exhaust from attached garages, nearby roads, or parking areas can also be a source.
At low concentrations, fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease. At higher concentrations, impaired vision and coordination; headaches; dizziness; confusion; nausea. Can cause flu-like symptoms that clear up after leaving home. Fatal at very high concentrations. Acute effects are due to the formation of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood, which inhibits oxygen intake. At moderate concentrations, angina, impaired vision, and reduced brain function may result. At higher concentrations, CO exposure can be fatal.
Average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). Levels near properly adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm and those near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30 ppm or higher.
It is most important to be sure combustion equipment is maintained and properly adjusted. Vehicular use should be carefully managed adjacent to buildings and in vocational programs. Additional ventilation can be used as a temporary measure when high levels of CO are expected for short periods of time.
Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.
Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly.
Do not idle the car inside garage.
Let’s be safe!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Biological Pollutants

 
Here are more indoor air pollution contents.

Biological Pollutants

Biological contaminants include bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen. There are many sources of these pollutants. Pollens originate from plants; viruses are transmitted by people and animals; bacteria are carried by people, animals, and soil and plant debris; and household pets are sources of saliva and animal dander. The protein in urine from rats and mice is a potent allergen. When it dries, it can become airborne. Contaminated central air handling systems can become breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and other sources of biological contaminants and can then distribute these contaminants through the home.

By controlling the relative humidity level in a home, the growth of some sources of biologicals can be minimized. A relative humidity of 30-50 percent is generally recommended for homes. Standing water, water-damaged materials, or wet surfaces also serve as a breeding ground for molds, mildews, bacteria, and insects. House dust mites, the source of one of the most powerful biological allergens, grow in damp, warm environments.

Some biological contaminants trigger allergic reactions, including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis, and some types of asthma. Infectious illnesses, such as influenza, measles, and chicken pox are transmitted through the air. Molds and mildews release disease-causing toxins. Symptoms of health problems caused by biological pollutants include sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, and shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, fever, and digestive problems.

Allergic reactions occur only after repeated exposure to a specific biological allergen. However, that reaction may occur immediately upon re-exposure or after multiple exposures over time. As a result, people who have noticed only mild allergic reactions, or no reactions at all, may suddenly find themselves very sensitive to particular allergens.

Some diseases, like humidifier fever, are associated with exposure to toxins from microorganisms that can grow in large building ventilation systems. However, these diseases can also be traced to microorganisms that grow in home heating and cooling systems and humidifiers. Children, elderly people, and people with breathing problems, allergies, and lung diseases are particularly susceptible to disease-causing biological agents in the indoor air.

Mold, dust mites, pet dander, and pest droppings or body parts can trigger asthma. Biological contaminants, including molds and pollens can cause allergic reactions for a significant portion of the population. Tuberculosis, measles, staphylococcus infections, Legionella and influenza are known to be transmitted by air.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shopping


I know I have talked about people need to start buying and trying all natural and organic products.  I know for many of my readers live in small towns and cannot find the products in their local stores.  There is a website that can help you out.
They have almost everything that you would need except for fresh and frozen goods.  It would be worth you time to check out the site.  You can do you shopping and not have to live your house, and they have good prices.  I have noticed that a lot of the prices are the same or cheaper than at stores.
Happy shopping.