Chicago, IL | EZ Breathe

Indoor Air Quality – What to Do about Humidity While Away on Vacation | New York, NY

Indoor Air Quality – What to Do about Humidity While Away on Vacation | New York, NY

Finally, it’s time for the vacation that you have been planning for several months. You can finally put your feet up and relax for a few days or even weeks. Everything is booked, packed and ready to go. But wait, are you really ready for your vacation?

The prospect of getting away from it all can be really exciting. Preparing for your vacation can be exciting too. You get to plan where you’ll go and what you’ll do. However, you shouldn’t forget what you leave behind.

No one wants to come home to a mold infested home. But many homeowners forget about protecting their home from humidity and water damage for the period of their vacation. Many come back home to find that things aren’t as great as they left them.

The following tips will help you deal with indoor humidity and ensure indoor air quality while you’re away.


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  1. Have your home inspected

Want to know what to look for in order to ensure good indoor air quality? Have your home inspected. This will help you identify areas in your home that are contributing to the high levels of humidity. Your inspector will also provide you with guidance on the best way to tackle these problems.

  1. Have your plumbing fixed

Do you have leaky plumbing? Are there faucets in your home that are dripping? Get a professional plumber in to ensure that these leaks are fixed. This will ensure that there are no puddles to contribute to the humidity levels in your home.

  1. Invest in a dehumidifier

If you haven’t already, ensure that you invest in a dehumidifier. Be sure to purchase one that can be set to automatically turn on when the humidity levels are too high and off when they have reached the optimum range. You can leave this humidifier running while you are away.

  1. Let your dehumidifier drain directly into the drain

Dehumidifiers are designed to turn off when their trays are full of water. This protects your home from flooding and the dehumidifier from water damage. You then have to empty the tray for the dehumidifier to continue operating.

However, you won’t be around to empty the tray while you’re on vacation. You can ensure that the dehumidifier continues operating by simply allowing it to drain into the main drain.

Apply these tips to your home so you can enjoy a worry free vacation and come back to a home to find good indoor air quality.


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:

Kitchen As A Pollution Hazard

Kitchen As A Pollution Hazard- EZ Breathe

Kitchen As A Pollution Hazard

By midmorning, the smell of hot peanut oil dissipated and inside the tightly sealed laboratory known as Building 51F, a pink hamburger sizzled in a pan over a raging gas flame. Overhead, fans whirred, whisking caustic smoke up through a metallic esophagus of ductwork.

Woody Delp, 49, a longhaired engineer in glasses — the Willie Nelson of HVAC — supervised the green bean and hamburger experiments. He sat at a computer inside a kitchen simulator, rows upon rows of numeric data appearing on his screen, ticking off the constituents of the plume sucked up the flue. A seared hamburger patty, as he sees it, is just a reliable source for indoor pollution.

“I can claim Alice Waters’ influenced the recipe,” he said. “It’s all fresh and local.”

But Dr. Delp and his colleagues aren’t really interested in testing recipes. They are scientists at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the morning’s experiment concerned another kitchen conundrum, a fight against physics: how to remove harmful contaminants caused by cooking.

Find out why installing the EZ Breathe Ventilation System is beneficial to your home.

Simply put, cooking is an act of controlled combustion — you set oil, fat, and carbohydrates on fire. As a health hazard, incinerating hamburgers and green beans may pale in comparison with lighting wood or coal fires indoors, the leading environmental cause of death and disability around the world. Yet frying, grilling or toasting foods with gas and electric appliances creates particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. (Acrolein, which most cooks recognize as the smell of burnt fats or oils, was used in grenades in World War I because it causes irritation to the lungs and eyes.)

Emissions of nitrogen dioxide in homes with gas stoves exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of clean air in an estimated 55 percent to 70 percent of those homes, according to one model; a quarter of them have air quality worse than the worst recorded smog (nitrogen dioxide) event in London. Cooking represents one of the single largest contributors, generating particulate matter (formally known as PM2.5) at concentrations four times greater than major haze events in Beijing.

“Because we’re used to the smell, we don’t think of it as an issue,” said Jennifer M. Logue, 32, an air quality engineer at the Berkeley Lab. “When you live in a small building, you cook a lot and don’t use your range hood, which may not be very effective anyway, then you’re probably going to have a problem with pollutants from cooking.”

Recently Dr. Logue estimated the long-term health effects expected from hundreds of chemicals found in average homes. Her 2012 study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, used a common epidemiological metric known as disability-adjusted life-year to show that the population-wide health impact of indoor pollutants is on a par with that of car accidents, and greater than that of traditional concerns like secondhand smoke or radon.

“It’s well over violence,” she said. “It’s not a small risk.”

Federal policy and financing tends to focus on research outdoors — air quality, drinking water, wastewater, hazardous waste sites and soil contamination. “We haven’t had that regulatory driver for the indoor environment, and yet the indoor environment is probably the most important environment in terms of human health,” said Richard L. Corsi, an engineer and professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

“If you look at just the dose of toxic chemicals we take into our bodies during our lifetime that are of environmental origin, it’s dominated by the air that we breathe and the surfaces that we touch indoors,” Dr. Corsi said.

The Berkeley Lab’s research is driven, in part, by renewed efforts to tighten building envelopes and save on energy costs. Airtight buildings keep outdoors out, but they also trap contaminants. Efforts to mask odors — incense, candles, and air fresheners — exacerbate the hazard. After all, indoor combustion creates more pollutants that linger in tightly sealed spaces; and, formaldehyde, for example, is formed when ozone reacts with gases, especially scenting agents, plug-in air fresheners and cleaners.

Since people aren’t likely to stop cooking, the lab aims to come up with science-based ventilation standards. “People don’t need to radically change their lifestyles,” Dr. Logue said. “We need to change the building codes so that everyone gets a venting range hood.”

Current ventilation standards — the V in HVAC — represent a best engineering judgment. There’s never been much science involved in determining how well range hoods and other ventilation systems should work in terms of human health. Existing metrics for performance, most notably the Energy Star rating, measure energy use, not the impact of the appliance on human health.

And while it’s difficult to rid a home of the semi-volatile organic compounds that leak out of, say, a couch over a long period of time, volatile compounds from fire and water vapor can be removed with an effective kitchen fan. “A lot of homes don’t have that,” said Brett Singer, the lab’s director. “Secondly, a lot of the ones that do, people don’t use them, and thirdly, even if they have it and even if they use it, a lot of them don’t work very well.”

When they tested seven different commercially available range hood designs, Dr. Singer and Dr. Delp found that the airflow and the amount of burner exhaust and cooking contaminants whisked away — the so-called “capture efficiency” — varied from 15 percent to 98 percent. (Dr. Singer refers to recirculating hoods, only somewhat jokingly, as “forehead greasers.”)

Inside the kitchen simulator, fresh air whooshed through the room — an exchange rate of about 12 times per hour, nearly 40 times the amount circulating in an average home. But the experiments hadn’t generated much appetite. One lab assistant, Omsri Bharat, passed on the burgers because she is a vegetarian, and the other, Marcella Barrios, a science teacher, admitted to having packed a lunch.

Dr. Singer is optimistic that new scientific standards might even change habits inside actual homes. “We want people to cook,” he said. “The health of America will probably get better. We just want to make sure all those pollutants, vapors and moisture from cooking get vented outside.”

Peter Andrey Smith
The New York Times


NEWSFLASH! Garages Are Polluting Our Homes!

NEWSFLASH: Garages are polluting our houses!

Wow, check out this most recent article on that talks about the relationship between our attached garages & our homes:

Stop Garage Fumes from Polluting Indoor Air

See how the EZ Breathe Garage Ventilation System works.

Attached garages are very convenient, but there is mounting evidence that they are responsible for negatively affecting indoor air quality. That’s because much of what we use our garages for (cars, mowers, paints, lubricants) contains or generates substances that are considered toxic. Once the toxic substances become airborne, they can easily migrate indoors.

It’s a bit ironic that we keep a floor mat by the door leading from the garage to the house so that shoe bottoms can be cleaned of largely nontoxic items like dirt, yet we often take no such preventative measures regarding the air.

Car exhaust, toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds are present in almost all garages at least some of the time. And they can find their way into the house very easily through open doors, gaps around closed doors, ducts and other wall and ceiling penetrations.

There is scientific proof to back up this claim. A study involving 100 houses conducted by Health Canada found that those with attached garages had measurable quantities of benzene inside the house, while houses without attached garages had little if any benzene. Benzene is a gasoline-related pollutant. The study found similar results with other pollutants.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), long-term exposure to benzene can affect bone marrow and blood production. Short-term exposure to high levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, unconsciousness and death.

A survey of Minnesota houses during the winter of 1996-1997 found that 74 percent of homes with carbon monoxide (CO) detectors that went off were triggered by CO leaking in from the garage. Other studies from Iowa, Colorado and Alaska have found substantial evidence of garage-generated CO leaking into houses.

Nobody wants to breathe toxic pollutants, especially at home. Fortunately, there are a series of steps you can take to keep your indoor air quality something you need not worry about inhaling. Here are some tips:

  • Keep the garage air clean. Avoid running the car, motorcycle, chain saw or lawn mower any longer than absolutely necessary while in the garage. Avoid placing mechanical systems such as water heaters and furnaces in the garage.
  • Seal the gaps. Make sure the door leading from the garage into the house closes tightly and has proper weatherstripping applied. Seal all penetrations (ducts, wiring, etc.) leading into the house or the ceiling above the garage. Spray foam and caulk are good products for sealing these types of gaps.
  • Finish the walls and ceilings. In new houses it is not uncommon for the garage to be left with open walls or with drywall attached but the joints not finished. Either of these conditions allow garage pollutants to easily find their way inside. Garage walls and ceilings that are completely covered with drywall, with joints properly sealed with tape and compound, and with the surface primed and painted are much less likely to leak. They are also much more attractive. (See How To Install Drywall Like a Pro.)
  • Keep the door shut. Often you find yourself with full arms when entering the house from the garage. The result can be that the door remains open until you set the groceries down somewhere. Or maybe you or the kids simply forget to close the door, or fail to close it all the way. This can allow nasty fumes from the garage to enter the house quickly and easily. You can avoid this problem by installing a self-closing door.
  • Keep the door open. Never start your car or any other internal combustion engine while the garage door is closed. And when you do start the engine after the door has been opened, move it outside as soon as possible and shut the door to prevent exhaust fumes from floating back into the garage. When you pull your car into the garage, shut it off as soon as possible and leave the door open for a few minutes to clear the air.
  • Put a lid on it. Make sure all containers of potentially toxic items are sealed. Don’t let cans of paint thinner, solvents and other liquids sit uncovered.
  • Vent it outdoors. If you spend a lot of time in the garage working with chemicals, paints, wood finishes, combustion engines and other such items, consider installing an exhaust fan that sends the smells and fumes to the outdoors. A decent bathroom or kitchen fan will be sufficient.

If you are planning to build a new house or garage, give some thought to making the garage fully detached from the house. In addition to largely eliminating garage pollutants from migrating inside the house, here are some other benefits of a detached garage.

Finally, make sure your home has at least one CO detector mounted probably. And, if you are curious about the CO levels in your garage, go ahead and mount one out there, at least temporarily, to see if it goes off on a regular basis. Though it might be irritating, it could be educational to learn that the air you are breathing in that space contains a toxic substance.


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