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Air quality issues

DisrupterDisrupter Registered User regular
edited December 2018 in Help / Advice Forum
So I’ve always felt like I have bad allergies over the last decade or so. Congestion, fogginess, fatigue etc

I noticed recently it seems to be worse if I fall asleep on my children’s floor. This got me concerned for their health and air quality

We got a little detector and our particles and general chemical quality is ok but overall it says poor because we have a higher level of formeldehyde

Says about .139 ppm but it fluctuates

Quick research says My symptoms seem to start at about .1 ppm potentially but the even scarier part is apparently it’s a cancer risk

What options do I have to reduce this problem to get me and my family breathing better air?

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Disrupter on

Posts

  • knitdanknitdan Registered User regular
    https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/7-easy-ways-to-reduce-your-exposure-to-formaldehyde/

    This website should give you some ideas for where to start.

    Unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to be a matter of just filtering the air, you need to take steps to remove the sources of exposure.
    The following materials and activities are the primary source of formaldehyde exposure:

    Plywood, pressed wood, particle board, and medium density fiberboard (MDF). These products use glues that contain formaldehyde, and are commonly used in home construction and renovations, and to make ‘economy-grade’ furniture and cabinets.
    Paints, adhesives, varnishes and floor finishes.
    Household products such as wallpaper, cardboard and paper products
    Vehicle exhaust from attached garages or from outdoors
    Smoke from fireplaces and wood-burning stoves
    Tobacco smoke
    Cosmetic products such as nail polish, some hair care products
    Permanent press clothing

    Fuck Firearm Fetishism
    86 45
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Jeez

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    DisruptedCapitalistJansonCalica
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited December 2018
    I think it would be in your best interest to figure out what is off-gassing and actually increasing the airborne quantities of the materials you're interested in before you decide to rip out all the plywood in your house or something. I'd also probably get a professional air quality evaluation and see a doctor about your symptoms. If you go googling for medical symptoms of any kind the answer is almost always you definitely have cancer and are the worst parent.

    Do this thing one step at a time. It could just as easily be high amounts of co2 if your home is sealed up too well and you're not getting adequate ventilation. - Yes, this can happen with homes that lack ventilation in the hvac system where people keep the house shut up tight all winter/summer.

    dispatch.o on
    MugsleyNightDragon
  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    Take the easy step and replace your furnace filters, first. Upgrade to a higher quality/filtration and see if that helps. Not a guarantee it'll help but it won't hurt.

    Depending on how long it's been since you replaced the filters, you can also shorten the interval for replacement until the air quality gets better (if it's helping). Typical recommendation for replacement is 60-90 days. You can inspect the filter half way through that interval and figure out if it requires changing earlier than normal, at least until it's caught up with filtering contaminants. You could also go as far as getting your ducts cleaned by a professional company, if you felt your filters were becoming dirty faster than normal.

    Also, yes, formaldehyde-containing does nothing but make you anxious about what's in the home. Whatever materials are actually off-gassing or are otherwise contributing volatile components ('volatile' in this case only means that the material wants to turn into a gas at room temperature and pressure) to the home's atmosphere.

    What changes have you made the past few months? Any new furniture? Did any rooms get painted? Have you cleaned the garage and now you're parking one or more cars inside (and to that end, is the garage door ever shut with the car running)? Have you recently moved a significant amount of furniture around in a couple of rooms?

    Also, if you're on the floor, you're in closer contact to more household dust. Doubly so for carpets. So while your symptoms may point to something like formaldehyde, you could also just be having more acute allergy symptoms.

    ---
    This is a lot, but also think about whether there were recent changes at work as well (work furniture, new carpets, recent carpet cleaning, painting, moves to a new facility, etc.). Or even if you bought a new car recently.

    dispatch.oDisrupterNightDragonbowen
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Some of this stuff is a good idea even if you're having no trouble and your carpets are perfect. Filters get gross because that's their job, they get gross so you don't have to. They need to be cleaned and/or changed once in a while so they can keep doing it.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    dispatch.oElvenshaeDisrupterShadowfireTofystedethSmrtnikspool32bowen
  • DisrupterDisrupter Registered User regular
    I’ll start with the filters. Yeah my symptoms in their room might be related to being on the floor. It’s akso the only room with carpet that were ever in

    We also had a dog that used to pee everywhere a lot and while we did our best to clean up after him we also know we need to redo the floor as soon as we can (been putting it off despite him being gone for almost a year) so I’m sure that doesn’t help

    616610-1.png
  • evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    Yeah, having allergy symptoms being more pronounced while you're in close proximity to carpet, in the only room with carpet, isn't that worrying. (Probably a dust mite allergy, or the carpet is picking up other stuff.) That being said, those formaldehyde levels are at the levels where you can get symptoms.

    Since you have a detector, I'd recommend placing it around the house at various spots, and see if there's a room that's particularly worse than the rest.

    Disrupterbowen
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Get a carbon monoxide detector too.

  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    So while browsing reddit I found this. Might be a good idea. Basicly NASA did an study over which plants filter toxins out of the air, and plants just improve the air quality overall.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study

    "The western world sips from a poisonous cocktail: Polarisation, populism, protectionism and post-truth"
    -Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
    SiskaDisrupter
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    So while browsing reddit I found this. Might be a good idea. Basicly NASA did an study over which plants filter toxins out of the air, and plants just improve the air quality overall.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study

    I read a lot about this study. The results are pretty minimal, and most of the benefit comes from the microbes in the soil, which differ by type of plant. You'd also have to have an epic number of plants (think: indoor jungle) for there to really be any noticeable effect.

    I'm all for indoor plants, but having a peace lily or two in your house isn't going to do much of anything to improve the air quality.

    bowen
  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    edited December 2018
    So while browsing reddit I found this. Might be a good idea. Basicly NASA did an study over which plants filter toxins out of the air, and plants just improve the air quality overall.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study

    I read a lot about this study. The results are pretty minimal, and most of the benefit comes from the microbes in the soil, which differ by type of plant. You'd also have to have an epic number of plants (think: indoor jungle) for there to really be any noticeable effect.

    I'm all for indoor plants, but having a peace lily or two in your house isn't going to do much of anything to improve the air quality.

    Looking at the cited papers that is true for other volatiles like benzene, but that certain plants have a significant capability of direct absorbation for formaldehyde (with most studies citing an average of 60-90% reduction in formaldehyde) if you have about 1 small potted plant per 10 m2/107 sqft (most studies that referenced what kind of rooms they used peace lilies as their plant of choice). That's not a jungle.

    Note that I'd pick some other plant (like a bamboo palm or boston fern) if you have cats or dogs since the peace lily is kinda toxic to most pets.

    Fiendishrabbit on
    "The western world sips from a poisonous cocktail: Polarisation, populism, protectionism and post-truth"
    -Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    That's not very peaceful

  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    So while browsing reddit I found this. Might be a good idea. Basicly NASA did an study over which plants filter toxins out of the air, and plants just improve the air quality overall.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study

    I read a lot about this study. The results are pretty minimal, and most of the benefit comes from the microbes in the soil, which differ by type of plant. You'd also have to have an epic number of plants (think: indoor jungle) for there to really be any noticeable effect.

    I'm all for indoor plants, but having a peace lily or two in your house isn't going to do much of anything to improve the air quality.

    Looking at the cited papers that is true for other volatiles like benzene, but that certain plants have a significant capability of direct absorbation for formaldehyde (with most studies citing an average of 60-90% reduction in formaldehyde) if you have about 1 small potted plant per 10 m2/107 sqft (most studies that referenced what kind of rooms they used peace lilies as their plant of choice). That's not a jungle.

    Note that I'd pick some other plant (like a bamboo palm or boston fern) if you have cats or dogs since the peace lily is kinda toxic to most pets.

    I'm not here to argue about this study because it's only vaguely related to the OP of this thread, but the actual NASA study never mentions anything about "plants per square foot". Regardless, it's a somewhat useless suggestion! You'd really need to know what specific plants in specific sizes would be needed per cubic foot, since we're talking about air. The Wikipedia article that mentions the "per 100 square feet" says "[citation needed]". It's also mentioned on a billion websites with no source. If you want to get into this further, read these:
    http://time.com/5105027/indoor-plants-air-quality/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3230460/

    If air quality is an issue, it's possible plants may help, but without seeing studies that aren't in laboratories using sealed containers, carbon filters, ideal light and water requirements and a fan circulating air around the plant and root system, you can't definitively say that they'll make a noticeable difference to air quality inside a house or apartment.

    Regarding the OP, I agree with others that the main issue likely resulted simply from sleeping on a carpeted floor in a kid's room.

    To reduce allergens, it might be a good idea to get that carpet deep-cleaned, and remove dust from every surface you can find (using a dampened cloth or swiffer). Going over the tops of door frames, the top sides of fan blades, mopping down the hardwood floors, etc, can help a huge amount with allergies. After that you can try tackling the chemical compounds in the air, but reducing the easy-to-reduce allergens would be a good start.

    bowen
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited December 2018
    Yup, plants are going to give a +/- bump in air quality in general. The volume of air you move with your lungs and breathing is going to be so much larger than what a few plants will be able to filter that it's essentially meaningless.

    Things that do help are getting rid of things that "trap" allergens (carpet) and change out air filters more frequently. The normal recommendation for changing filters on your furnace is once every 3 months. That changes drastically if you're not 2 people that live in a box and do nothing. If you have allergies, that drops to once every 2 months. For everything that's unique about your situation, you take about 20 days off the time. So pets will probably add another two weeks per pet, so 2 dogs and it's down to once a month, smokers/incense/candles drops it down to about every 15-20 days if you have allergies and pets too. Granted you don't have to be that rigid, but the amount of particulates that enter the air because of those things tends to add up very quickly. I recommend getting the really good filters too, don't cheap out and buy the $4 ones.

    They do make special paints and drywall that absorb offgassed stuff that need to be replaced every 30-40 years, but that's a bit much. You'll also want to avoid memory foam on your beds if you're allergic to stuff because they tend to absorb a lot more funk and put it right at nose/face level for you to breath in all night.

    And this stuff settles so carpet traps it like whoa, so it's not surprising it got worse for you the closer you got to the ground. The biggest thing you can do is remove carpets. You'll notice just how much funk they were trapping once you have hardwood or linoleum and are cleaning it every 2-3 days instead of once a week or fortnightly.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
    DisrupterNightDragon
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited December 2018
    Another thing to check for is radon. As radon decays it kind of attaches itself to dust and settles in for the long haul and you do not want to be disturbing (or breathing in) radon dust at all.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    If air quality is an issue, it's possible plants may help, but without seeing studies that aren't in laboratories using sealed containers, carbon filters, ideal light and water requirements and a fan circulating air around the plant and root system, you can't definitively say that they'll make a noticeable difference to air quality inside a house or apartment.

    You mean like these field studies that all test the efficiency of potted plants in offices, commercial locals, apartments and schools all say "Yes. Plants do help, especially in buildings with poor ventilation"?

    Oyabu T, Sawada A, Kuroda H, Hasmimoto T, Yoshioka T (2005) Purification capabilities of golden pothos and peace lily for indoor air pollutants and its application to a relaxation space. J Agric Meteorol 60:1145–1148
    Wood RA, Burchett MD, Alquezar R, Orwell RL, Tarran J, Torpy F (2006) The potted-plant microcosm substantially reduces indoor air VOC pollution: I. Office field-study.Water Air Soil Pollut 175:163–180
    Lim YW, Kim HH, Yang JY, Kim KJ, Lee JY, Shin DC (2009) Improvement of indoor air quality by houseplants in new-built apartment buildings. J Jpn Soc Hortic Sci 78:456–462
    Kim HH, Lee JY, Yang JY, Kim KJ, Lee YJ, Shin DC, Lim YW (2011a) Evaluation of indoor air quality and health related parameters in office buildings with or without indoor plants. J Jpn Soc Hortic Sci 80:96–102
    Pegas PN, Alves CA, Nunes T, Bate-Epey EF, Evtyugina M, Pio CA (2012) Could houseplants improve indoor air quality in schools? J Toxicol Environ Health A 75:1371–1380

    "The western world sips from a poisonous cocktail: Polarisation, populism, protectionism and post-truth"
    -Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited December 2018
    Note that your second study shows what ND was saying that the microorganisms in the root-area were nearly more beneficial than the plant itself and all these studies deal with poorly ventilated office spaces (and schools) that are not houses. Typically these buildings do not have windows that can open and they're designed to minimize airflow and loss to the outside. The first one doesn't really quantify what it means by them helping in real life applications, just that it does, and for some reason that's where they decided not to put real numbers down... also I'm not going to pay for the full study. E: also the first one says they're a supplement to actually taking care of filters and removing allergens, not a replacement.

    This is also why toner is a health hazard in the workplace but not in your home because of volume of printing and design of buildings.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
    NightDragon
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