Indoor air quality is something that effects all of us especially when we are at home. The problem of poor indoor air quality is that it is invisible and we may not realize it is harming our health. Check out our latest air quality infographic to find out out if you have symptoms of poor indoor air quality, and what you can do about it.
San Diego Is Getting Focused On Better Air
San Diegans, rejoice and take a deep breath of fresh air. Well, fresh-er air.
Everyone knows the residents and visitors of San Diego love their daily dose of sunshine — but how often do they think about their air? Most of us assume that if we can’t see any signs of pollution, we must be breathing clean and safe air. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. In fact, reports in 2014 discovered that air pollution was dangerously high for almost 50% of the United States.
While San Diego has some of the best amenities nature has to offer — golden rays of sun shining nearly every day, saltwater in waves perfect for surfing, and pleasantly warm temperatures that most of the country simply can’t compete with — the city hasn’t always held the best record when it comes to the quality of its air.
Until now, that is. Thanks to policies and measures taken by the city, San Diego has been successfully and gradually improving its air quality in recent years. The city has buckled down, placing a higher focus on cleaning up the local air, and it shows. Year by year, residents can breathe safer and easier.
Although San Diego’s air quality may not be perfect (yet), the city should be proud to call itself one of the most improved in the United States.
San Diego and the “State of the Air Report”
Since 1999, the American Lung Association (ALA) has been analyzing data collected from official air monitoring systems to complete an annual study known as the “State of Air Report.”
The report assigns a score to cities and states across the United States, offering an insight into things like the presence of unhealthy particles, and the number of dangerous ozone days a city sees in a year (days on which a city’s ozone level exceeds the federal standard). The idea behind the State Air Report is to give government officials the information they need to pinpoint problems in air quality, and take steps to make the atmosphere healthier and cleaner for residents.
In this year’s State of the Air Report, the city of San Diego brought home a report card worthy of hanging on the fridge.
For the first time in 17 years, the air quality in San Diego’s metropolitan area was not ranked within the 25 most polluted regions for 2016 — underlining the significant improvements the city has made to fight back against pollution. Though the city did receive an “F” grade in ozone days (room for improvement, no doubt), San Diego still saw an overall fall of 71% in unhealthy days since 2000, alongside an 86% drop in unhealthy particle days.
The History of San Diego’s Air
Looking at the less-than-stellar history of San Diego’s air quality highlights how significant this year’s improvements truly are.
The Air Pollution Control District (APCD) has been monitoring pollutant concentrations since the 1950s. Reports have long shown San Diego lagging behind many other cities and states in regards to air quality, with pollution levels reaching a peak in 1981. During that year, San Diego experienced 179 dangerous ozone days. Today, the city’s reported no less than 10 ozone days. The number is far from perfect, but these changes represent a fantastic improvement for the city.
The EPA will continue to evaluate air quality in San Diego every five years, making improvements based on its findings. Even now, a proposal exists to adjust ozone standards for businesses from 75 ppb (parts per billion) to between 65 and 70 ppb — a measure that will force organizations to pay more attention to the number of pollutants they release into the air on a daily basis.
How Is San Diego Cleaning Up Pollution?
Although San Diego has continued to welcome new vehicles, factories, and people over the decades — all of which contribute to air pollution — the city’s air quality has steadily improved.
The regulations in place constantly require innovation and investment in the control of air pollution, placing limits on everything from power plants and factories, to personal vehicles and construction equipment.
The city’s efforts to improve air quality over the years include:
Making public transit available. San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan attempts to make transit more accessible, to reduce the need for numerous vehicles on the road.
Encouraging biking and walking. As a further development designed to reduce the number of cars on the road, San Diego has taken measures to offer safer streets for bicycling and walking purposes. Pedestrian safety fixes, roundabouts, traffic circles, and “traffic calming” are all contributing to this initiative.
Decreasing vehicle emissions. Since the majority of San Diego’s air pollution is attributed to vehicles, emissions are curbed with grants offered by the government. These grants help individuals upgrade their pollution-heavy vehicles to cleaner technology — $5.4 million was awarded in 2015.
Implementing Senate Bill 350. The American Lung Association has backed various measures for improved air quality, including Senate Bill 350, which sets new goals for increasing renewable power.
Introducing plug-in ships. Last year, the Port of San Diego offered a shore power system that permits ships to “plug in” for energy, rather than running diesel generators on board.
Today, the presence of “clean air” laws represents one of the most successful interventions in environmental history — saving billions of dollars in expenses for health care, missed work days, and even crop losses. Each clean air policy, whether it’s promoting environmentally friendly vehicles or reducing power usage, contributes to San Diego’s fight for cleaner air. The city has a long way to go, but seeing how far it’s come already and the recent measures taken to step up the game, we can’t help but feel optimistic that the sunny city can someday beat pollution for good.
Do Pets Really Impact Air Quality?
Could your furry family member be making you sick? The short answer is, yes, it’s possible – but don’t panic. If this is the case, you’re not alone and you don’t have to give up your four-legged best friend in order to feel better!
As much as we love our pets – 65% of American households, or nearly 80 million families, have a pet – there are pros and cons that come with having an animal in your household.
Pet dander (the dead skin cells that pets shed throughout the day) can introduce airborne irritants into your home. Humans shed dead skin cells as well, but the problem with animal dander is that these irritants can trigger reactions in humans, ranging from itchy eyes and a stuffy nose, to severe breathing problems. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that 3 in 10 people with allergies have reactions to cats and dogs – and cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies.
If you have a pet, and notice some of the symptoms of poor air quality in yourself (or your family members), it doesn’t mean that you and Mr. Mittens can’t live together. Here are some simple steps you can take to minimize the problem, and improve the air quality in your home.
Keep Your Home Clean
In order to decrease the amount of pet dander in your home, establish a regular and vigorous cleaning routine. Vacuum your carpet and furniture frequently with a vacuum that has a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration system. A HEPA filter forces air through a fine mesh that traps potentially harmful particles; such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and tobacco smoke.
Clean your floors and hard surfaces regularly, with microfiber cloths that pick up dander. Dust other surfaces with a damp cloth twice a week.
When you allow pets to sleep with you, pet dander and other allergens find their way into your bedding. If you’re experiencing strong symptoms, purchase a comfortable – and separate – bed for your pet, and keep it out of your bedroom for less exposure to irritants.
Wash your pet’s bedding frequently in hot water, and wash your own hands thoroughly after touching the bedding. Those with very strong reactions to dander should consider training pets to stay off the furniture, as well.
Keep Your Pet Clean
Your pet may be spreading more than just dander around your home – pet hair can actually attract other allergens such as dust, pollen, and mold spores. To reduce allergens and dirt from hitchhiking into your home, bathe your dog once a week. Give her a bath more often if her outdoor exercise (or the weather) requires it.
In between baths, brush your pet on a daily basis (both cats and dogs). It is a good idea to do the brushing outside, so you don’t spread more dander inside your home. Clean the brush and carefully dispose of hair collected in the bristles.
If you brush your pet inside, vacuum the area when you are done, and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. If you are particularly sensitive to dander, it’s a good idea to ask someone else to do the brushing for you.
If you have an indoor cat, be fastidious about changing and cleaning the litter pan. Wear a mask and gloves when you clean the pan, to reduce irritation to your nose and eyes.
Keep Your Home Well Ventilated
Proper ventilation is critical for improving air quality in homes with pets. If you have a forced air HVAC system, you should clean or replace your filters every few months. Try covering your bedroom vents with a filtering material or with cheesecloth, to keep allergens out of your sleeping area.
Consider running an air cleaner for four to five hours each day. Air cleaners are available as room units, or as systems for the entire house. Some air cleaners (or purifiers) have indicators to let you know when the air quality level has dropped, alerting you to make proper adjustments to your cleaning or pet habits.
Fortunately, most of us do not have to choose between having a pet and having our health. With these steps, you can enjoy the love and companionship your furry friend provides, while breathing cleaner, healthier air at the same time.
The American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report shares an analysis of air quality across the country, assessing both ozone pollution and particle pollution. The 2016 report covers years 2012-2014, and although air quality continues to improve, more than half of the U.S. still lives with unhealthy levels of pollution – putting 166 million people at greater risk of heart problems, reproductive issues, asthma, and even cancer.
Why is the air in your home worse than outside?
While you may not be an expert in air quality and ventilation in your home, it’s important to understand the ways in which airborne pollutants and contaminants can affect your health. According to the environmental protection agency, the air quality indoors could be up to five times worse than the effects of pollution outdoors. After common activities such as painting or applying adhesives, the air quality of an average home can become even worse, leading to severe short-term and long-term symptoms.
If you’ve begun to notice discomfort in yourself or your family members, it could be a sign that poor air quality is actually damaging your health – in which case, you need to take steps quickly to resolve the problem. Not only can improving your air quality ensure better comfort and wellbeing for everyone within your home, but studies suggest that improved air quality also contributes to enhanced productivity and development.
So how do you know whether you need to address air quality in your home?
Symptoms to Look For
If you’re suffering from the symptoms of air pollution, health problems may present themselves in a number of ways. Watch out for the following issues:
While having a cold is never fun, poor indoor air quality can cause congestion to linger for longer than it should, leading to wheezing and chest discomfort over time. If you think you have a cold, but notice that your symptoms seem to ease when you leave the house, this could be a sign that you need to improve the air quality in your home.
People often attribute allergy problems to a change in weather patterns or seasons, but they could also be a sensitive reaction to contaminants lingering in your indoor environment. Many people suffer with allergies linked to dust, pollen, and other irritants – and these materials can be more concentrated in enclosed locations than in outdoor spaces, leading to congestion, headaches, watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing.
Headaches can also be an indication of poor air quality. Sometimes, headaches occur because your body is struggling to take in the right amount of clear air; even if you have no trouble breathing. Headaches can also occur as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning – so if you feel sleepy and have a headache at the same time, it might be time to get outside of the house.
Bad air quality in your house can make you feel sluggish when you’re inside. If walking outside into the fresh air helps to give you energy or perk you up, this could be a sign that your house needs better air flow. Some studies suggest that the air quality in your home could also affect your quality of sleep, increasing your chances of feeling tired throughout the day.
Particles in poor-quality air can irritate the sensitive hairs in your nose, causing it to bleed. If this happens, a solution could be to simply change the filters in your HVAC system or open up more windows.
While some effects are mild, contaminants like toxic mold spores, asbestos, and other hazardous chemicals may have a far more extreme impact on your health. See a doctor immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Muscle Pain
- Hearing loss
- Shortness of breath
How Does Air Quality Become Unhealthy?
Various factors can contaminate the air in your home. Often, chemicals and materials in the home emit particles and gases that aren’t removed by low-quality ventilation and circulation systems. No matter what kinds of effects you’re feeling, improving the air in your home should be a priority for every homeowner. Unfortunately, it can take a long time for people to recognize the link between their health symptoms and poor indoor air. Often, people are harmed so subtly by their indoor air, that they don’t even notice the connection.
There are a number of ways you can improve air quality in your home, from installing new filters in your HVAC to investing in new devices and systems responsible for removing gaseous and solid contaminants from the air. It’s also important to make sure that your home is well-ventilated, as a poorly ventilated home can hold pollutants inside.
Typically we are visual people, we react to what we see around us. But we may not realize that we are breathing in invisible particles that can endanger something very precious to us, our health! In our latest infographic we breakdown the Science of Air Quality and show you how you can avoid or protect yourself from bad air!
We heat and air condition our home, many times to counteract the extreme environment just outside our door. In this latest fun infographic, we’ll check out the hottest, coldest, windiest, driest, and worst air quality cities in the United States!
We were recently notified by one of our customers that an air duct cleaning company named, “INDOOR AIR QUALITY” called them for solicitation of cleaning their air ducts for only $59 and said that represented “Jenson”. Something didn’t sit right with them about this and thankfully they gave us a call to ask about it! Bait and switch air duct cleaning companies have been around for a while, offering “too good to be true” low pricing. Now it seems they have stooped even further to using known, reputable companies names to try to “get in” with customers, when in fact we would never give out any of our customers info to any third party, ever.
We decided to call the business ourselves and here’s what happened:
We called the number they gave our customer from our office, with our caller ID showing our business name and someone picked up and then hung up. A second call and we were instantly put on hold. Later a third call with our number blocked, and we got to a receptionist who answered, “Indoor Air Quality”, we asked for the salesman Tim who contacted our customer and used our name. She said he was on a break and was unavailable. After lunch we called and got put on hold again without talking to anyone. We called back and the receptionist answered. We asked for “Tim” and he finally got on the phone. We told him that one of our customers said he used our company name when calling on them. He got very rude and angry. We asked him if he was a licensed professional and he promptly hung up. And we have a winner, folks!
It is really sad that there are people like this who are actively trying to scam people and are using reputable companies names to do it.
Here are some complaints about this company:
If you are solicited by this company and they say they represent Bob Jenson or use another reputable company’s name, always call the company they mention first to see if it’s legit!
Here are the facts:
- We do not ever give out customer info or “refer” them to any third parties.
- We have nothing to do with a company called “INDOOR AIR QUALITY”.
- We do not offer any duct cleaning services, in-house or via a third party company
Avoid Being Scammed, Stay Informed!
Ask for their Contractors License number, if they hesitate to give it to you, run!
Check out their business on the local BBB website.
Duct cleaning is rarely needed in residential homes and if it is, stick with a reputable company that’s known in San Diego and has great reviews. Also real duct cleaning is an extensive process that cannot be done for only $59, so avoid unrealistic, low priced, “deals”. They are designed to get into the front door to be able to charge you a lot more for nothing in return.
Should I be Concerned About Indoor Air Quality?
The truth is that people spend almost 90% of their time indoors in schools, offices, homes, and other buildings, completely unaware that they are breathing in environmental pollutants. In fact, indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, making indoor air quality a pressing issue we should address.
Airborne chemicals, mold, dirt and dust, and poor ventilation are all common contributors to poor indoor air quality and can be found in just about every room in your house. Bad air can trigger problems ranging from eye irritation to allergies, and can even pose greater health risks. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), clean air can prevent specific diseases linked to air contaminants, such as asthma, which affects 25 million people.
What Can I Do About My Air Quality?
Taking action to improve your indoor air quality will go far to protect your family’s good health. Unfortunately, almost 50% of Americans use air fresheners at least once a week and about 40% never clean their humidifier or kitchen range hood both of which are used daily. Educate yourself with these easy and affordable solutions, and you can ensure that your home air quality is healthy and pollutant-free.
Eliminate Bad Air Sources
The most effective solution is source control, wherein you identify individual sources of air pollutants and reduce their emissions. Some sources can be sealed or enclosed, while others can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions, like stoves.
You can decrease the amount of particles circulating in the air by cleaning and vacuuming thoroughly once a week. Use simple toxin-free ingredients like baking soda and vinegar or purchase natural, fragrance-free cleaning products as an alternative to common cleaning products, which can contain over 450 air contaminants.
One of the best ways to collectively improve air quality in our world is to switch to cleaner energy sources. This includes solar, wind, and water power along with more efficient vehicles that emit fewer pollutants.
Replace Bad Air with an ERV
Ventilation is essential to removing indoor air pollutants. Even with a pristinely kept home, indoor air quality can suffer without a working ventilation system in place. Exhaust fans will remove bad air but they also remove the warm and cool air you’ve paid for! Putting a fresh air on your HVAC system can bring in unwanted humidity from outside. It can also over pressurize a tight home and cause doors to slam shut when your system turns on.
An ERV or Energy Recovery Ventilator is the Swiss Army knife of ventilation products. It can remove the bad air in your home while at the same time bring in the same amount of fresh, filtered air in, so everything stays balanced. It also “recovers” the energy, or heat & cooling from the air before it exhausts it outside and returns it back into the HVAC system saving you on your utility bills. You can add an ERV to most existing systems.
Monitor Indoor Air Quality
Make sure that you have an adjustable thermostat that can regulate moisture levels and temperatures to create a comfortable environment. Improper humidity levels and high temperatures can actually increase concentrations of particles and bioaerosols.
Filter Your Air
Clean your air filters according to your system’s recommended maintenance schedule, so that pollutants don’t clog up your filters and prevent them from performing properly. Try electronic air filters and high-efficiency air filters that have the ability to capture even the smallest of particles. Consider upgrading your heating and air conditioning system with modifications like a disposable HEPA filter that can make your system highly effective in filtering out contaminants.
Find the Right System for Your Home
By increasing and improving ventilation, you can start to drive down air pollutants and breathe easier in your home or business. However, if you have an older model heating and air conditioning system, consider an upgrade for your next home improvement project. Today’s advanced systems are more effective and actually save you money in the long run due to higher efficiency standards—which also serves to lower the collective air quality issue.
If you’re concerned about the air quality in your San Diego home or commercial building, contact Bob Jenson to help you assess the situation and make a plan for better air—and ultimately better health!
Solving 3 Office Health Hazards
According the American Time Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employed person age 25-54 spends 8.8 hours a day at work or doing work-related things. That number overshadowed all other activities in a typical 24-hour day, even sleeping. Spending so much time in the office endears you to all kinds of perks—cool coworkers, free food in the break room—but it also comes with some potential health drawbacks. Let’s take a look at some potential health hazards lurking in your office and how you can solve them.
1. Bad Ventilation
You probably don’t give a second thought to the air you’re breathing in. But if that air is cycling through a poorly maintained HVAC system, it probably carries allergens, irritants, smoke, and other things that could leave you feeling ill at your desk. Some of the harmful elements in your office air include:
- Particles – These are any little bits of matter in the air that eventually settle—like dust, dirt, and allergens.
- Microbial contaminants – This category includes mold and bacteria.
- Gases – Carbon monoxide, radon, and other volatile organic compounds are included in this category.
However, most work illnesses aren’t caused by any single factor. More often it’s a combination of these airborne irritants that cause a problem, which is where sick building syndrome comes in. Sick building syndrome describes situations wherein employees get sick just from being inside a building. Symptoms include everything from headaches and dry cough to fatigue and nausea. These symptoms immediately go away when leaving the building.
The really scary thing: pollutant levels inside your office can be two to five times more concentrated than outdoors—and in some cases 100 times that amount!
Switch out air filters and have your ventilation system checked regularly. A properly functioning HVAC system keeps humidity in check to discourage mold growth while also weeding out the pollutants that cause many of the common health problems in the office.
It also doesn’t hurt to get a little nature in the office. Plants situated throughout your work area look great and naturally improve air quality and humidity.
Bad posture is a well-known detractor of good health, leading to back pain, headaches, and digestive issues. Not typing correctly can give you carpal tunnel, and staring too long at your monitor leads to eye strain.
All that said, the constant sitting itself is also a risk. According to various forms of research, sitting for extended periods during the day is linked to a whole host of health issues, including:
- Heart disease – Sitting has been connected to high blood pressure and cholesterol, which contribute to an unhealthy heart.
- Diabetes – Idle muscles have a harder time responding to insulin, forcing the pancreas to make more and more insulin, which can cause diabetes (among other diseases).
- Varicose veins – Sitting slows down circulation and causes blood to pool in your legs, which can lead to varicose veins, blood clots, and deep vein thrombosis.
Standing and treadmill desks have become quite the craze in response to this information, but both can be tiring if not done properly. If you do go the route of a standing desk, make sure you either invest in good footwear or use a desk mat to prevent fatigue and take some of the pressure off your feet and ankles.
If you’d rather not spend all day on your feet, make sure you sit with good posture. That means:
- Feet flat on the floor
- Elbows bent at 90 degrees
- Shoulders relaxed
- Neck even with the spine
- Lean back a bit to relax your upper back on the backrest (while maintaining posture) instead of leaning forward and hunching over.
Most importantly, take frequent breaks to stand, stretch, and get some sun. Aim for a five-minute break once an hour.
3. Long hours
The average nine-to-five job has stretched way beyond those limits, and it’s not uncommon for average weekly hours to exceed 40. While you might have overtime on your mind, working so long isn’t good for your body. Studies show that working 11 or more hours a day increases your risk of coronary heart disease 67 percent. People who work 11 or more hours a day also have an increased risk of depression.
Long hours also spell doom for your sleep cycle, which can raise your stress hormones, cause an imbalance in insulin, and reduce your leptin, the hormone connected to appetite.
The easy solution is to limit your hours, but that’s not always possible. If you find yourself having trouble getting through all the items on your to-do list, consider your time management techniques. Make a plan for your day that includes all breaks, delays, and distractions. Know when to say no, and learn the value of delegating tasks to those under you.
If things really become a problem, take things up with upper management. There’s no reason any employee should spend consecutive days working overtime.
Are these three office health hazards bogging you down? Start by having your HVAC system checked out by a trusted commercial professional like Bob Jenson Air Conditioning and Heating. Look for ways to get yourself moving throughout the day, whether it’s standing for part of the day or banning the elevator. Say no to too many late nights by experimenting with some time management tricks or talking to your supervisor. Share your knowledge and enjoy the benefits of a healthy office with your whole team!