Flu Season & Indoor Air Quality – Chicago, IL

It’s that time of the year again. It’s cold outside and the flu is spreading like a wild fire. You’ve even had to take some days off work to recover from the flu indoors. However, you may be doing yourself more harm than good.

It’s in the air we breathe

Are you truly safe indoors? Can staying indoors help you avoid the flu? Can it help reduce symptoms or help you feel better?

The truth is that once the viruses that cause colds and the flu have made it into the home, the indoor air quality of the home is compromised. This is true even if you have a highly efficient HVAC system.

HVAC systems only recirculates air within the home. The filtration of air in these systems results in the removal of large particles. Microscopic organisms such as viruses and mold spores often make it through these filters.

Another problem with staying indoors is the fact that modern homes are built for greater efficiency. The air in the home is not vented to the outside. The air outdoors cannot enter the home. The air conditioning systems simply recirculate the air within the home. This means that we are inhaling stale air that is full of viruses.

Lastly, viruses aren’t only in the air we breathe. They are also on surfaces around the home. They can easily spread from one person to another when transferred from the contaminated surface.

A solution

The best way to deal with the flu this season is to ensure better indoor air quality. There’s no better way to do this than to let air from the outside into the home and let the stale air out of the home.

‘But it’s cold outside,’ you say. You don’t have to open the windows to let the stale air out and fresh air in. You can invest in a ventilation system that cycles the air in and out of your home. This type of system will ensure that your home continues to be energy efficient while maintaining a high level of indoor air quality.

These systems work by pumping stale air out of the home and bringing fresh air from the outside into the home. There are no filters to clean because filtration is not required. The cool air is heated as it is cycled into the home, thus ensuring that you remain comfortable.

 

 

Questions About Indoor Air Quality You Should Answer – Cleveland, OH

How is the quality of air in your home? Everyone would like to believe that the air they breathe in their homes is of high quality. However, research has shown that indoor air quality of most homes in the US falls far below the quality of air in the outdoors.

Our homes are full of pollutants. They are in the electronics we buy, the plastic packaging, the floors, the carpets, the sofa, the fabric of our curtains and practically anything that is produced commercially. There are also various pollutants around the home that aren’t in obvious places e.g. basement mold.

If you want to improve indoor air quality, you can start by answering the questions below:

  1. Do you have moisture problems in your basement?

Not many people realize that the state of their basement affects the quality of the air in their homes. This is the result of stack effect, which results in the rising of air from the basement into the rest of the home.

If you’re experiencing moisture problems in your basement, you’re also likely to have a mold or mildew infestation. You are also likely to be affected by microbial growth. Mold spores and bacteria can spread to the rest of the home in the air that rises from the basement into the rest of the home.

  1. Do you have rodents or insects in your home?

Yes, rodents and insects affect indoor air quality. Their fur and particles from their feces can easily spread in the air that circulates in your home. These particles are allergens that can cause or exacerbate allergic reactions. You may experience worsening of asthma symptoms or the development of various other respiratory conditions as a result of the presence of these allergens.

  1. Do members of your family experience frequent bouts of illnesses or allergies?

Many people write this off as a problem with immunity. However, it is most likely the presence of allergens and disease-causing organisms in the air you breathe in your home.

Addressing issues of air quality

It isn’t enough to invest in HEPA filters that will get rid of small particles. You need to ensure that you have fresh air circulating in your home. You can achieve this by investing in a ventilation system that circulates fresh air from the outdoors into your home. These systems ensure that you are not breathing in the same stale air. They get rid of allergens and gaseous toxins to ensure better air quality in your home.

 

Why Winter Makes Indoor Air Quality Worse

Why Winter Makes Indoor Air Quality Worse

Homes are built to be energy- (and therefore cost-) efficient by holding heat in during the winter time and keeping heat out during the summer. Winter weather prompts homeowners to tightly seal any cracks in insulation that could allow cold drafts into the home. This, in turn, also seals off the home from any fresh air and raises the concentrations of allergens, pollutants and chemical concentrations in the home.

Add Stack Effect…It gets Worse!

indoor air qualityThe same force that causes hot air balloons to rise in to the sky is present in all of our homes. This “stack effect” draws air up from the lowest levels through floors, doors, windows, and up from the basement and/or crawlspace commonly called “chimney effect”. This stack effect or chimney effect is very powerful during the winter heating season actively introducing basement/crawlspace air up into the living environment contaminating the quality of indoor air.

40% of the air we breathe in the living spaces was once basement/crawlspace air!

Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Immediate effects of poor indoor air quality can show up after just a single exposure and include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and itchy eyes, nose, and throat. Asthma and chemical sensitivities can also be aggravated by exposure to indoor pollution. Allergic responses to pollutants in the air can last for months on end as the air quality continues to worsen. Chronic sensitivities may also build up after repeated exposures.

Although it remains uncertain what levels or periods of exposure are necessary to bring on serious health effects from indoor air pollution, long-term effects of indoor air pollution include respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

The EPA recognizes two basic strategies to improve indoor air quality: source control and ventilation improvements.

Improving indoor air quality through source control involves removing the sources of pollution. Gas emissions, like those from a poorly maintained stove, for instance, can be adjusted in order to lower their emissions; asbestos can be sealed or enclosed. Often, source control is a more cost-conscious way to remedy poor air quality, however source control is not always possible or practical.

Increased ventilation is an easy and effective way to control poor indoor air by bringing fresh indoor air into circulation. Especially because most heating systems do not bring fresh air into the home. Whole home ventilation systems not only create a path of escape for the myriad of pollutants trapped inside our homes, but also make room for better air to be introduced. Solution by dilution. Increase the amount of fresh air entering the building envelope is an effective way to improve the quality of indoor air

You can easily check to see if your home might have ventilation problems. Condensation on walls or windows, stuffy air, moldy areas, or dirty heating or cooling equipment are all indicators. Odors (which are most notable upon entering the home from outdoors) are also an indication of poor ventilation.

When performing many home improvement or hobbies, it’s especially important to be aware of the need for proper ventilation. Without ventilation, pollutants such those emitted during painting, welding, sanding, or even cooking, can add toxic elements into your home environment.

To learn more about the benefits of ventilation click here: https://ezbreathe.com/about/why-ez-breathe/

Air Freshener Leads To High School Evacuation

(This was recently published on the front page of USA Today.)

“Pumpkin spice air freshener prompts Baltimore high school evacuation”

“A high school in Baltimore was evacuated Thursday afternoon over an odd smell that prompted fire and hazmat officials to arrive on campus. The source?

A pumpkin spice air freshener, fire officials told local media.

At around 2:30 p.m., students noticed a “strange odor” on the third floor, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School said in a statement on itswebsite.

“It was a smell that they certainly weren’t used to,” School president Bill Heiser, who was not on campus during the incident, toldThe Baltimore Sun. “It appeared to be getting stronger.”

Students were evacuated shortly after and the Baltimore fire department’s hazmat team entered the building. Several students and staff were evaluated by EMTs, and five were taken to the hospital as a precaution, the school said.”

Consumer Alert: Millions of Home Dehumidifiers Recalled

If you’ve got a home dehumidifier, now is the time to check it out. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today issued yet another recall of millions of dehumidifiers that can overheat and start a fire in your home.

This latest major recall affects about 3.4 million Midea dehumidifiers of various sizes sold under dozens of brand names including household giants like GE, Kenmore and Frigidaire. The dehumidifiers were manufactured by GD Midea Air Conditioning Equipment Ltd. of China and sold at Lowes, Menards, PC Richard and other stores nationwide from January 2003 through December 2013, according to the CPSC.

Consumers can check HERE for the full list of brand names and to see if their dehumidifier is part of this latest recall.

If you have one, immediately turn it off, unplug it and contact GD Midea for a replacement or partial refund.

This is serious stuff, folks. The dehumidifiers involved in this latest recall are implicated in 38 reports of smoke and fire and about $4.8 million property damage.

And in recent years, the CPSC has recalled millions of other dehumidifiers after numerous reports of overheating and at least 121 fires.

Read the full article at http://abcnews.go.com/Business/consumer-alert-millions-home-dehumidifiers-recalled/story?id=43253462

Real Estate Radio LIVE with Erika from EZ Breathe

Real Estate Radio LIVE was founded and launched in 2011 by Joe Cucchiara, a Bay Area mortgage planner who has guided thousands of Silicon Valley residents (and beyond!) through the home financing process. With Real Estate Radio LIVE ranked #2 in listenership and popularity on The Wall Street Business Network, AM 1220 KDOW, the mission has been widely received and continues to grow.

A home is a safe place, unless it’s making you sick! The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that the air in the average American home is anywhere from five to 100 times more polluted than the air outside. EZ Breathe Ventilation Systems aims to change that! Erika Lacroix, President of EZ Breathe will chat with Host Joe Cucchiara about the hidden health dangers inside a home.

Listen here: https://secure-hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/a/c/1ac6fdf778effd49/Joecu-0406-160032k.mp3?c_id=11416478&expiration=1460050468&hwt=564157cb26a2bec09056b4aaa48f3fd4

Healthy Home Tips! – April is Healthy Home Awareness Month

“Healthy Homes Awareness Month”

Healthy Home Tips! - April is Healthy Home Awareness Month- EZ BreatheApril is Healthy Homes Awareness month! We, here at EZ Breathe, have long supported the Healthy Homes initiative. We are proud that two of our staff members hold the Healthy Homes Specialist certification. They have graciously put together these helpful tips. One for each day…

Click here for more information on the EZ Breathe Ventilation System.

Follow us on Facebook to receive your daily tip: https://www.facebook.com/pages/EZ-Breathe/117829068427752

April 1:

Here at EZ Breathe, we are keenly aware of the 7 Healthy Home Tips:

  1. Keep it Dry.
  2. Keep it Clean.
  3. Keep it Safe.
  4. Keep it Well-Ventilated.
  5. Keep it Pest-free.
  6. Contaminant-free.
  7. Keep it Well-Maintained.

US Department of Housing and Urban Development office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_11882.pdf

 

April 2:

Keep it Dry

Today is a great day to check for signs of foundation leaks.  As snow has melted, followed by spring rains in much of North America, now is a time to check for damp spots on walls and floors, actual water leakage, etc.  If you have any of these signs, call EZ Breathe for helpful hints on what you can do to Keep it Dry in your basement or crawlspace.

 

April 3:

Keep it Clean

Today, you can Keep it Clean and Dry at the same time, clean out eaves troughs of tree debris, etc.

 

April 4:

Keep it Safe

Do you have smoke detectors on each floor of the home? Did you replace the batteries when you adjusted your clocks ahead for Spring?  If not, do it now, and remember to test each smoke detector monthly.

 

April 5:

Keep it Well-Ventilated

We aren’t coming up with this on our own, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in their “Seven Tips for Keeping a Healthy Home” says:

“use whole house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce contaminants in the home.”

 

April 6:

Keep it Pest-Free

Did you know that a mouse can enter your home through a ¼ inch gap?  Now is a good time to examine the outside of your home for any penetrations.  There are some easy ways to seal these up DIY. Or call a professional who understands Integrated Pest Management.  There is a lot more than chemicals to keeping your home pest free.

 

April 7:

Keep it Contaminant-free

Have you had your home tested for radon?  See this map from the EPA, and test your home. Some Health Departments have test kits.

 

April 8:

Keep it Well-Maintained

Inspect the exterior of your home thoroughly for damage from the Winter.  Make a list of repairs. Take care of minor repairs, and prevent much more costly large repairs.

 

April 9:

Keep it Dry

Visually inspect your roof from the outside, look for missing or damaged shingles.  If you are in a snow/freeze region, ice damming can cause external damage that will create the path for water to enter the home.  One of our distributors in Massachusetts this Winter personally experienced both ice damming, and how EZ Breathe can help to prevent it.

 

April 10:

Keep it Clean

Like the old school rhyme, “Pick up Sticks” in the yard.  It is both a Keep it Clean, and a Keep it Safe (trip hazard).

 

April 11:

Keep it Safe

Do you have Carbon Monoxide detectors?  EZ Breathe HIGHLY recommends CO alarms, and Low Level CO alarms or monitors are the way to go!  According to the CDC:  “Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO.”  And these folks are also more likely to be effected at lower levels than many alarms would even recognize as a threat. http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/fire-and-safety-equipment/smoke-alarms/installing-and-maintaining-smoke-alarms

 

April 12:

Keep it Well-Ventilated

When it comes to attached garages, you can take care of a lot of “Keep Its” with one simple thing: Garage mechanical ventilation.   According to the Energy Star Indoor airPlus program, and the Alaska American Lung Association, attached garages should have exhaust ventilation. It will keep garage fumes, including carbon monoxide, benzene, and chemicals stored in the garage, from entering the home.

 

April 13:

Keep it Pest-free

Inspect the exterior of the home and ensure that the soil outside doesn’t directly contact any exterior wood elements of the home.  This is a pathway for pests including termites.  While you’re at it, look for landscaping bushes and trees in contact with the home, and trim accordingly.

 

April 14:

Keep it Contaminant-free

As we open our windows (I just opened mine for the first time in months), check for chipping paint, if your house was built before 1978, the paint used around the windows may very well contain lead.  Remove chips, and dispose of them safely.  For tips on handling possibly lead containing paint: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2502/

 

April 15:

Keep it Well-Maintained

Spring is a good time to institute a “remove your shoes at the door” rule.  It will make keeping the house clean easier, and will also keep unwanted contaminants like lead in the soil, pests, etc. from entering your home!

 

April 16:

Keep it Dry

Check the attic for any signs of water intrusion from outside OR condensation from inside.  Wet spots, rusty metal, mold, etc.

 

April 17:

Keep it Clean

One of the best ways to find an area in need of cleaning is to use your nose!  Who has the most sensitive nose in the house?  Follow your nose.  Many things we need to be aware of have a scent signature… what is that musty odor?  https://ezbreathe.com/why-is-my-basementcrawlspace-damp/

 

April 18:

Keep it Safe

If your home was a workplace (and who has a home that doesn’t involve a lot of work?),  cleaning products and other chemicals would have to be labeled and stored in a secure area.  And most workplaces don’t have pets and children in them.  Are your cleaning products safely stored in an area that children and pets can’t access?

 

April 19:

Keep it Well-Ventilated

Check your dryer vent hose or pipe, clean it out, check for holes, and make sure the exterior vent isn’t clogged.  In 2010 nearly 17,000 home fires were caused by clothes washers and dryers, 92% by dryers.

 

April 20:

Keep it Pest-free

Check all fresh air intakes for high efficiency furnaces, water heaters, makeup air,  or the EZ Breathe Balanced system… they should have a filter (ours does), and the filter should be cleaned or changed.  No filter means free access to pests….ask us about the hornet infested house from an unfiltered passive air intake…

 

April 21:

Keep it Contaminant-free

If there is one thing we should remember when it comes to contaminants it is this: SOURCE CONTROL.  If we don’t bring it in the house, we don’t have to deal with it.  So pay attention to the labels of anything you bring in the house!  See our blog on Formaldehyde.

 

Today we will be at a conference in Akron, Ohio: “Creating Healthier Indoor Spaces for Healthier Children”, 

 

 

April 22:

Keep it Well-Maintained

If you have an outdoor grill, now is a great time to open it up, clean it out, and prepare for grilling season.  Far too many people find out about bugs, mice, etc. that have made a home in their grill when it is too late!

 

April 23:

Keep it Dry

Make a note to yourself… next time it rains cats and dogs, do a perimeter check of your home, observe the way the rain water comes off the roof, and is it pooling around the foundation?  Rain water should be running to the eaves troughs, into the downspout, and piped away from the foundation.  Any failure to do so should be addressed.

 

April 24:

Keep it Clean

Clean and organize your garage! Sometimes a disorganized/messy garage hides all kinds of things we don’t want, like pests, old paint cans, etc. One customer told me that our garage system “Changed my life”, it was because of equal parts forcing him to clean and organize his garage, and how it immediately changed how his wife perceived the smell of the garage and adjoining room of the house.

 

April 25:

Keep it Safe

Inspect your home for trip/slip and fall hazards.  Loose rugs, extension cords across the floor (this is dangerous on many levels), toys, shoes, etc.  Personally, I hate it when I inspect a home that has pairs of shoes “organized” on each step on the way into the house, or into the basement, or upstairs, or all of the above.  Safety is about redundancy, sure it would be great if everyone was always aware of where they were walking, but they often aren’t, and removing a trip hazard prevents serious injury!

 

April 26:

Keep it Well-Ventilated

This is a good day to check bathroom and kitchen range exhaust fans.  They should be in good working order, and exhausting to the outside.  Check outside vents for airflow restrictions, make sure any ductwork is intact and not obstructed.  Also, flex pipe works best when it is STRAIGHT!  I can’t tell you how many times we see flex pipe hung in ways that guarantee debris accumulation, condensation pooling, and eventual blockage, if not worse.

 

April 27:

Keep it Pest-free

Pest of the day… DUST MITES.  Where ever your family and your pets spend the most time is where dust mites will be most likely to be found.  Thoroughly vacuum your furniture; move your furniture, and vacuum the carpet around it.  Dust mite-proof bedding is advised, particularly if anyone has asthma or allergies.

 

EZ Breathe representatives will be attending the 2015 Ohio Healthy Homes and Lead Conference in Cleveland!

 

April 28:

Keep it Contaminant-free

If there are smokers in the house, make sure to institute a “smoke free” home policy.  If there is smoking in one room, there is smoking throughout the home (your furnace/air conditioning is designed to move air from one room throughout the house), a smoke free home is important to everyone’s health.  And it might help the smoker to limit and eventually quit smoking.  Check your local chapter of the American Lung Association for Smoking Cessation classes.

 

April 29:

Keep it Well-Maintained

Check your window screens.  Repair/replace as needed.  It looks nice, and it will keep bugs out!

 

April 30:

Keep it Dry

You already checked and fixed any sources for rain water entering your home at your roof, or foundation….what about water vapor?  If you want to know about how water vapor enters your home, check out the EZ Breathe Blog! https://ezbreathe.com/why-is-my-basementcrawlspace-damp/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Popular Science Radio with EZ Breathe

Popular Science Radio with EZ Breathe Popular Science Radio with Alan Taylor and EZ Breathe with Erika Lacroix

The stuffy air in your house could be killing you! Find out how EZ Breathe can help you breathe easy with their home ventilation system.

 

Breathe Easy – Six out of every ten homes are hazardous to live in due to airborne pollutants. EZ Breathe President, Erika Lecroix, has made it her mission to improve the indoor air quality in homes all across America, and is here to tell us how!

For related information on the EZ Breathe Ventilation System, click here.

Ventilation is Key – The most important tool in your arsenal in your fight against hazardous indoor air is ventilation! Erika Lecroix explains how EZ Breathe’s stand alone unit provides an escape for all the nasty stuff in your building at the lowest level.