If You Notice This at a Restaurant, Don’t Eat There, Virus Experts Warn

For a year and half, many of us have traded takeout, delivery, and cooking at home for meals out at restaurants, which closed their indoor dining spaces to prevent the spread of COVID. But as more and more restaurants have welcomed customers back for indoor dining with COVID-19 case numbers improving and a large portion of the population vaccinated, many people in the U.S. are now back to eating inside like it’s 2019. Around 62 percent of U.S. adults say they now feel comfortable going out to eat and eating inside, according to ongoing data tracking from the Morning Consult as of Oct. 6. But virus experts are warning that dining indoors isn’t equally safe at every single restaurant—and there are some clear signs you should pick another spot to eat. Read on to find out what they say is the ultimate red flag you shouldn’t eat at a particular restaurant.

If a restaurant has poor ventilation, don’t eat there.

With COVID cases still relatively high, virus experts say you should continue to be cautious when it comes to eating indoors right now, even if you’re vaccinated. Serhat Gumrukcu, MD, an infectious disease expert and research scientist, told Best Life he still avoids eating indoors at restaurants that appear to have inadequate ventilation, and he’s not alone.

“COVID, like other airborne constituents, is more prevalent in poorly circulated air because it has been given the opportunity to accumulate,” explains Andre Lacroix, a certified indoor air specialist and co-founder of air ventilation company EZ Breathe. “Most standard air filters cannot capture and contain the particle size associated with COVID, so unless a specific air cleaner or filter has been installed specifically for this purpose—which is possible, but extremely expensive—ventilation is an excellent starting point.”

There are a few signs that a restaurant does not have good ventilation, including how it smells and what’s on the walls.

Gumrukcu says poor ventilation typically results in high humidity levels, which can make it difficult to breathe and even make you dizzy.

Another major indicator of poor ventilation is a musty, stuffy smell, according to Conor O’Flynn, a specialist in air circulation, filtration, and purification. “Usually this smell is caused when there is a large number of pollutants in the air that aren’t being pushed out by fresh, clean air,” says O’Flynn, who’s operations manager for O’Flynn Medical.

Other signs that a restaurant is not sufficiently ventilated includes mold; stains on the ceiling or walls; peeling paint or wallpaper; and pipe condensation, rust, or corrosion, according to the experts at Enviro-Master.

On the other hand, you can also look for signs of good ventilation, which will be obvious to you. “The most obvious sign of a room with good ventilation is spotting an open window that ensures continuous supply of fresh air,” Gumrukcu says.

Good ventilation can make all the difference if someone in the restaurant does have COVID.

Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and medical expert for Impakt Fitness, says that good ventilation can both decrease the number of COVID particles in the air and decrease the number of viral particles that fall out of the air and onto surfaces, “so, even if you are exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, your viral load should be lower.”

But there are other factors to consider too, Poston notes. “In addition to ventilation, look at the closeness of the tables and the number of people dining in an enclosed space,” she says. “The more people in an enclosed space, the more important good ventilation should be.”

Dr. Fauci says good ventilation is key to avoiding breakthrough infections.

White House chief COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, also recently noted that proper ventilation will be a “key” factor when it comes to avoiding breakthrough infections this fall and winter. “What we should be doing is look at ventilation in indoor places,” he said during an Oct. 3 interview on CBS’s Face the Nation. “We know now that this [virus] is clearly spread by aerosol, and when you have something spread by aerosol, you absolutely want more ventilation, which is the reason why outdoors is always much safer than indoors. And if you are indoors, ventilation is going to be key.”

He added that if COVID-19 is spreading in your area, “even if you are vaccinated and you are in an indoor setting, a congregate setting, it just makes sense to wear a mask and to avoid high-risk situations.”

What Is Sick Home Syndrome?

Are You Wondering if Your Home or Office Is Making You Sick?

“Sick Home Syndrome” is a phrase that describes situations in which a structure’s occupants experience acute, adverse health effects and/or discomfort that appear to be linked to spending time within the structure and have no specific link to an illness, can be caused by poor air quality often linked to little or no ventilation. Symptoms can include respiratory ailments, asthma, sinus infections, rash, dizziness, headache, nausea, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, fatigue and others.

It’s common for several building occupants to report varying symptoms which may seem unrelated at first. For example, many experience runny, itchy eyes, headaches, etc. when spending time in their basement and in most cases, the symptoms diminish soon after the individual leaves a specific room or building. However, in some cases, particularly in sensitive individuals, in children and elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, there can be lingering health effects.

What causes of Sick Home Syndrome?

Causes of Sick Home Syndrome can be attributed to both interior and exterior chemical and biological contaminants. According to the EPA, a major contributing factors is inadequate ventilation, a common side effect from our ‘modern’ building and construction practices that favor tightly sealed, energy-efficient strategies for homes and buildings. In short, our homes don’t breathe any more.

Biological contaminants such as bacteria, pollen and molds can be found throughout a home, especially in damp places where stagnant water has puddled in ducts, humidifiers and drain pans, or where moisture has been absorbed on ceiling tiles, carpeting or insulation.

Mold is naturally occurring and easily enters a home in various ways like on our clothing and pets, through our vents and doors, and on organic material we introduce into our homes. While visible mold is an obvious reason for concern, mold and fungal growth also occur in hidden spaces under carpeting, behind wall boards, insulation and paneling. “Toxic molds” have been linked to large variety of illnesses in recent years which can cause serious health problems.

What you can do to help?

If you suspect that your home/building is making you sick there are some things you can to do help improve the indoor environment. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommend two major strategies to battle “Sick Home Syndrome”,

  1. Source Control – Eliminate any source of contamination or pollution. Dry out damp spaces, fix leaky pipes, remove any source of artificial fragrance (high levels of volatile chemicals), replace cleaning products with non-toxic varieties, do not allow smoking inside the home, clean and dust regularly, use vacuum with HEPA filter.
  2. Ventilate – Increase the amount of outdoor air entering the building envelope. “Solution by Dilution”, ventilation systems can significantly improve a home’s air quality by decreasing the level of contaminants in the air. Reducing the concentration of allergens, pollutants, moisture, mold spores, viral loads, dust particles, etc. with a mechanical ventilation will result in much healthier indoor air environment.

How we can help?

Don’t take chances with your indoor air quality. Call the experts at EZ Breathe Ventilation Systems at (866) 822-7328 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.

3 Simple Steps To Make Your Indoor Air Safe For Baby To Breathe

Most children under 24 months old spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, where research proves the air can be two to five times more contaminated than it is outdoors, says Alan Greene, MD, a pediatrician with a special interest in children’s environmental health and the author of Raising Baby Green.

Dirt accumulates indoors for a few reasons:

  • Black carbon from street traffic can seep inside and get trapped, making it difficult for kids to breathe, says New York’s Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH). What’s more, tiny airborne particles known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) or as we like to call them “little floaties” originating indoors and also on what we bring into our homes can be very dangerous to a child’s health, upping the risk of cancer and asthma. Then there are the toxins being released into the air from sources like building materials, household furnishings and cleaning products. All of these tiny chemical particles irritate human respiratory track and lungs, especially our tiniest humans.

Here’s three ways to make your indoor air healthier for your baby.

  1. Ventilate.

As long as the outside air quality is good (check it at airnow.gov), ventilation can help. When weather permits, open windows, in your child’s room, in main living spaces and anywhere your family spends time, Greene suggests. Running exhaust fans like kitchen and bathroom fans as well as basement ventilation, like an EZ Breathe Ventilation System that exhaust to the outdoors helps send indoor contaminants packing and creates healthier indoor air quality.

  1. Put a stop to “little floaties” in the air (tiny airborne particles known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAHs)

When cooking, always use a range hood or stove fan and be sure not to burn, char or blacken food. Ditch the scented candles and incense; instead, use natural herbs and essential oils to freshen the air. Frequently wet-mopping floors and vacuuming carpets (preferably using a vacuum with a HEPA filter) can help eliminate “little floaties” that can attach themselves to dust.

  1. Kick the habit

Never light up a cigarette (or allow anyone else to!) inside your house or anywhere near your child. And remember that third-hand smoke can cling to your hair and clothes, so it’s really best not to puff at all.

Why Should I Care About The Air In My Basement?

Basement Ventilation: The Foundational Link To A Healthy Home

As human beings, we breathe – inhale and exhale – about 10,000 to 70,000 times every day just to sustain life. Not really surprising, but what is surprising is how little attention, we  pay to the quality of air we are breathing. We as North American’s spend countless hours and billions of dollars deciding on the food we eat, beverages we drink, the lotions we put on our skin and the effects they have on our health and well-being. However, until very recently with the COVID-19 pandemic we spent very little time discussing the quality of the air we breathe in our homes.

If we are inhaling air into our lungs 10,000 to 70,000 times a day, doesn’t it make sense to at least consider the quality of air we breathe?

breathe in breathe out - ez breathe ventilation

So, let’s take a moment to consider what IS in the air we breathe. How is the air I am breathing effecting my home and health? We now know that much of the transmission of the COVID-19 virus is happening among people living under the same roof. How can we better understand this?

What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)? Term to describe “the physical and chemical characteristics of air inside buildings including airborne constituents with special concerns for the impact on occupant health and comfort” Airborne constituents include:

Temperature – Humidity – VOCs – Allergens – Particle Counts – Bacteria – Building Materials – Type of Construction – Exchange Rates – Occupants – HVAC – Insulation – etc.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, tells us that “The air in the average American home is a minimum of 5 times (and can be as much as 100 times) more polluted than outdoor air.” There are quite a few reasons for this…from the off gassing of toxins we use in building our homes such as glues, epoxies, resins, varnishes, upholstery, carpets, paint fumes, formaldehyde, and other VOCs to the type of foundations our homes are built on, basements and crawlspaces, add in the many pollutants we bring into our house plus our quest for insulation and energy efficient upgrades to the mix and we’ve got quite a toxic cocktail of indoor air quality! 

For homes with basements, indoor toxins are greater than for those homes without basements. Unfinished and finished basements both create risks for toxic exposure throughout the whole home. A recent study indicated that foundation walls, due to their porous nature “absorb 10-15 gallons of water vapor per day, which is responsible for up to 80% of the home’s indoor moisture, and can accelerate the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew as well as attract bugs, spiders and pests.”

We can all agree that it is important to control water leaks and water entry, from the basement into the rest of the house. Additionally, controlling mold is important as this toxin, will place your family at significant health risk. The humidity and condensation in the basement is what most often creates a mold risk. 

stack effect - ez breathe ventilationAdding the “Stack Effect” (the movement of air into and out of home) to this dynamic exaggerates the introduction of toxins from the basement into the home.   

The rising warm air draws air in through either open doors, windows, or other openings and up from basement.

Actively drawing dirty basement air into the living environment above is detrimental to providing a healthy indoor environment.

 

How Ventilation can help…

The good news is you can do something to combat this growing health concern and further protect your family from breathing bad, contaminated air.  Even better news is that it does not include major home renovations or serious lifestyle changes…by simply increasing the home’s air exchanges YOU can make a difference.

Helping to reduce the natural stack effect (tendency for basement/crawlspace air to rise up into the living space) YOU can improve your indoor quality. This will also provide a path of escape for the bad air to exit which will further prevent polluted indoor air from accumulating to unhealthy levels and entering the living environment. By exhausting that bad air out and increasing air exchanges you can dramatically improve the indoor air quality…and the health of the occupants!

It’s really a very simply solution to a complex problem. By increasing the ventilation rates in the home sourced at the lowest part of the foundation, you will see a reduction in indoor allergens,  airborne contaminants, viruses, humidity levels, trapped gasses and pollutants, as well as all of those nasty chemicals we introduce into our indoor environment every day. 

85 percent reduction - ez breathe ventilationCreate a fresher, cleaner, drier indoor air environment naturally, without expensive air filters, air cleaners, scrubbers, etc. When you increase ventilation there is no need for any harmful air fresheners, sprays, plug-ins, candles, chemical masking agents or fragrances. These synthetic compounds do nothing to improve the air quality and oftentimes add dangerous chemicals further polluting an already compromised air quality. 

If we need to breath up to 70,000 times per day just to sustain us, it’s probably a good idea to be sure that the air we are inhaling is the healthiest it can be to support us in being the healthiest we can be!

To Learn more about how the EZ Breathe Ventilation System can:

  • Improve indoor Air Quality
  • Reduce allergens
  • Monitor humidity levels
  • Remove pollutants
  • Reverse natural stack effect
  • Prevent Ice damming
  • Protect your home and health
  • Create a healthy and happy home!

Visit us at www.ezbreathe.com or call us at 1.866.8227328

Indoor Air | Nashville, TN | EZ Breathe

Indoor Air Quality Can Impact Your Health Nashville, TN

Indoor Air Quality Can Impact Your Health Nashville, TN

What is indoor air quality (IAQ)?

Indoor air quality describes how the air inside a building or facility affects a person’s health, comfort, and ability to work. It’s a major concern to businesses, employees, and rental managers because indoor air can have a huge impact on the well-being and productivity of employees. Several studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarded indoor air pollution as a major problem. While most commercial buildings don’t have severe issues, even the most well-maintained buildings can have episodes of poor indoor air. Indoor Air | Nashville, TN | EZ Breathe

According to the EPA, poor indoor air quality can lead to productivity problems and increased absences among employees. It is estimated that all these health consequences cost the government billions of dollars each year due to medical care and productivity loss.

What causes poor indoor air quality?

Indoor air pollution is perhaps one of the most underrated health concerns in commercial and institutional buildings. And it isn’t hard to see why. Outdoor air, when heavily polluted, can be easily noticed (dark smoke, toxic smell, and bitter taste). But indoor air is different. It hides behind the cool and comforting air blown by the AC and the calming smell of air fresheners. And because people don’t see it, it’s easy to dismiss the fact that it exists.

So what makes indoor air polluted?

There are hundreds of air pollutants commonly found in homes and commercial facilities. Among the most common (and harmful) are tobacco smoke, dust, mold and mildew, chemical pollutants, and VOCs.

Cigarette smoke

Even if you or your employees do not smoke inside the building, cigarette smoke can linger on the smoker’s skin and clothes. That’s why when a smoker enters the office, you could smell it right away. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4000 chemical compounds, most of which are highly toxic and detrimental to the respiratory system.

Dust

Dust and other environmental pollutants such as mites contribute to indoor air pollution. Without sufficient ventilation, these tiny pollutants can easily circulate around your office, triggering allergy symptoms in some people.

Mold and mildew

When the temperature outside drops and the indoor air is heated, condensation can form around windows, causing moisture. High moisture content in indoor air provides the perfect environment for mold and mildew to thrive. Furthermore, if you have water damage issues in the office, there’s a very high chance that mold and mildew are present too. Indoor Air | Nashville, TN | EZ Breathe

Chemical pollutants

Building materials, office equipment; furniture, wall and floor coverings, upholstery, and virtually every commercially manufactured item in your workplace emit chemical pollutants. They include polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), polyurethane, formaldehyde, and VOCs.

Learn more about how to improve the quality of your indoor air! Contact the professionals at EZ-Breathe! 866-822-7328

Indoor Air Pollution | Nashville, TN | EZ Breathe

How Cooking In Your Kitchen Causes Pollution In Your Home Cleveland, OH

How Cooking In Your Kitchen Causes Pollution In Your Home Cleveland, OH

People use a variety of heat sources to cook food, including gas, wood, and electricity. Each of these heat sources can create indoor air pollution during cooking. Natural gas and propane stoves can release carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and other harmful pollutants into the air, which can be toxic to people and pets. Using a wood stove or fireplace to cook can result in high levels of indoor air pollution from wood smoke. Indoor Air Pollution | Cleveland, OH | EZ Breathe

Cooking can also generate unhealthy air pollutants from heating oil, fat and other food ingredients, especially at high temperatures. Self-cleaning ovens, whether gas or electric, can create high levels of pollutants as food waste is burned away. Exposure to these can cause or worsen a wide range of health problems such as nose and throat irritation, headaches, fatigue and nausea. Young children, people with asthma and people with heart or lung disease are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of indoor air pollution.

Studies show that air can be unhealthy to breathe when people cook in kitchens with poor ventilation. The best way to ventilate your kitchen is to use a properly-installed, high efficiency range hood over your stove. A high efficiency range hood has a high cubic feet per minute (cfm) rating and a low sones (noise) rating. If you have a gas stove, a qualified technician should inspect it every year for gas leaks and carbon monoxide.

Ways to improve ventilation in your kitchen

If you have a range hood:

  1. Check to make sure it vents to the outdoors.
  2. Use it while cooking or using your stove
  3. Cook on the back burners, if possible, because the range hood exhausts this area more effectively.

If you don’t have a range hood:

  1. Use a wall or ceiling exhaust fan while cooking.
  2. Open windows and/or exterior doors to improve air flow through the kitchen. Indoor Air Pollution | Cleveland, OH | EZ Breathe

The above article provides information about the types of pollutants that can be emitted during cooking and their potential health impacts. You can also learn ways to improve the air quality in your home.

Contact the professionals at EZ-Breathe Ventilation Systems today! 1-866-822-7328