Health Risks of Unsealed Ducts in Palm Beach County, FL: What You Need to Know

Breathing polluted air can put your family's health at risk. According to the American College of Allergists, 50% of diseases are caused or aggravated by indoor air pollution. To reduce contaminants that can cause headache, lung irritation, and fatigue, as well as longer-term conditions such as asthma, allergies, and infectious diseases, it is important to control indoor air quality. Duct cleaning has never been proven to actually prevent health problems.

Studies have not conclusively demonstrated that the particle (e.g. dust) in the air ducts enters the living space. It is important to note that dirty air ducts are just one of the many possible sources of particulate matter that are present in homes. Contaminants that enter the home through both outdoor and indoor activities, such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or simply moving around, can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts.

In addition, there is no evidence that a small amount of household dust or other particles in air ducts poses a health risk. Sweat ducts are usually nothing to worry about. Cleaning and maintaining ducts can combat some of the most important problems caused by condensation accumulation. Neglecting leaks and condensation in air ducts can lead to problems such as mold and mildew that are harmful to health.

People who suspect they are experiencing formaldehyde-related symptoms should work closely with an experienced doctor to verify that it is the cause of their symptoms. Those with adverse reactions to formaldehyde may want to consider avoiding the use of hardboard products and other products that emit formaldehyde. Even if you don't experience such reactions, you may want to reduce your exposure as much as possible by buying furniture and wood products that emit less formaldehyde. To understand how allergens affect your health, it is important to know how they move through your home. Some allergens are small and can float in the air for a long time, while others are large and fall quickly to the floor or other surface (such as furniture).

Air filters can only remove allergens if they are suspended in the air (floats). If the allergen you're reacting to is a “float”, an air filter may be able to remove it and relieve your symptoms. If it is a “sunken” allergen, it is likely that the allergen will not stay in the air long enough for the air filter to “catch” it, so its use is unlikely to have a significant beneficial effect. The most effective way to solve your problem is to prevent allergens from entering your home and, if that's not possible, to provide adequate ventilation (also known as “fresh air”) to dilute their concentration. The Florida Department of Health in Volusia County does not usually test for mold in their investigations.

There are no standards for molds in living and working environments, making it very difficult to interpret test results. If the mystery material in your house looks or smells musty, it probably is. Don't keep exposing yourself while waiting for a mold test; it's important to protect your health and property by stopping moisture that causes growth and removing mold from your home as soon as possible. If you absolutely need to know what that black slime on the wall is, it is recommended that you use a laboratory certified by the Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program (EMLAP) of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. The fundamental step in solving mold problems is to eliminate the source of moisture and to remove contaminated materials.

The repair of the defects that caused the moisture problem must be done in conjunction with the removal of fungus. Once the moisture source has been eliminated, building materials that promote fungal growth must be remedied as quickly as possible. Specific methods for evaluating and remediating fungal contamination must be based on the extent of the visible contamination and the underlying damage; the simplest and most convenient remediation that is reasonable should be used and adequately and safely eliminate fungal contamination. As temperatures drop and people start using their heaters to heat their homes, there is an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning due to this odorless and colorless gas. To prevent carbon monoxide from reaching deadly levels, ensure that your fuel heater is properly vented; open chimneys when fireplaces are in use; wood stoves and kerosene heaters must be properly vented outside; have furnaces and chimney chimneys inspected regularly by trained technicians; purchase a carbon monoxide detector which works just like a smoke detector; alerting occupants to dangerous levels of poisonous gas.Household dust is another major contributor to indoor environmental problems; it's a mix of many things including fabric fibers, insulating material, skin, animal dander, dust mites, bacteria, cockroach parts, mold spores, food particles, and other debris.

Another dust problem that occurs occasionally is a phenomenon known as “soot” which is a dark mark or unexplained film on an interior wall, carpet or furniture surface.

Mitchell Zapalac
Mitchell Zapalac

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