Health Indoor Air Quality & Radon

Is Your Office’s Air Making You Sick?

Is Your Office’s Air Making You Sick?

Inhale.  Exhale.  Did you know that the average person takes about 23,000 breaths a day? Unfortunately, air is not the only thing entering your lungs – especially in office or school environments, which are often riddled with dust and allergens. Dust — the tiny particles of fiber, skin scales, insect parts, pollen, cobwebs and dirt that settle on surfaces everywhere – is the culprit for many ailments that develop in the office, according to the Hartford Courant. Chronic coughs and sneezing, scratchy throats, itchy eyes, and even headaches may be attributed to the dust that you’re breathing in daily in your office, which may be a potential health hazard.

Ironically, we go to great lengths to make sure our homes are safe havens, but rarely consider our work spaces – where we spend upwards of 8-hours a day.

An office can be a hotbed of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues.  A recent article in the Connecticut OSHA Quarterly explained that there are many ‘neglected areas’ in an office that never get cleaned. Computers and central processing units (CPU) equipment in general are magnets for dust accumulations. Other common and overlooked sources of dust in the workplace are computer cords, plugs, window blind louvers, base boards, trim work, window wells, surfaces at floor-to-wall junctures, underneath office furniture and heating units, fabric of upholstered office furniture, and cubical partitions. Click here to see a photo gallery of dust in various workplaces.

So, before you take a deep breath at work, have a professional conduct an indoor air quality test. Information from the U.S. EPA can be found in their publication “An Office Building Occupants Guide to Indoor Air Quality”. EPA-402-k-97-003


Lead Soil and Water

Lead Dust Poisoning: It Can Happen to Adults, Too!

When most people talk about lead dust poisoning, they emphasize the stunning number of children — 500,000 children younger than 6 — who are diagnosed with lead poisoning each year.

But adults can be poisoned, too.

The problem is that adults aren’t screened for lead poisoning, and most have no idea that their ailments are caused by exposure to lead dust. Last week, a 50-year-old man posted his recent “ah-ha moment” on, a question and answer Web site that is monitored by doctors throughout the United States.

The man’s epiphany occurred when he attended a class on lead awareness. In the late 1980s through the 1990s, the man was a sandblaster who was exposed to lead paint and dust numerous times. Back then, protective clothing was often never used, especially during warm weather. Since then, he has suffered from high blood pressure, bowel pain with diverticulitis, memory and vision loss, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and ringing in his left ear.

His question to Just Answer’s medical team: “Were my illnesses caused by lead dust poisoning?” The answer was a resounding yes, that all his illnesses could be directly linked to lead dust poisoning.

What makes this man’s question so poignant is that since 1987, not one of his many doctors made the connection between his medical issues and lead dust poisoning caused by his job. And just like children, the damage lead dust poisoning caused him is irreversible.

In the case of this man, his lead poisoning is directly traced to his exposure to lead-based paint, which is still present in most homes built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned. If you live in a pre-1978 built home, know that simply opening and closing a window or door can disturb lead-based paint. If you have never had your home tested for lead paint, it is wise to do so by a professional environmental testing company that will be able to pinpoint where your lead paint is lurking.

If you are planning any renovation, from a simple painting job to a major renovation, have your home tested for lead. Additionally, hire tradespeople certified in lead-safe work practices under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovation, Repair & Painting rule.