Why indoor air can be as bad as pollution – and what can you do about it

West Valley City • As smoke and ozone levels rise, our homes should be a safe haven. But for some families, especially those with low incomes, this is not always the case.

Old carpets, mold swamps, and sewage can all be sources of indoor air pollution. Sliding windows, failure, and poor circulation allow bad air to enter and bind. And for those with a steady income, or for those struggling to pay their bills, it can be difficult to find money to make the most important home repairs that can improve their health.

This was the case with Cornelius and Patricia Hailey, who had no heating or cooling system for four years, instead of relying on electric stoves in their kitchens and space heaters. Two older children are living with them, and a third stays in the living room after recovering from surgery.

“Sleeping in a basement with no heat is challenging, and sleeping without AC is challenging,” says Patricia.

All the residents, however, are suffering from asthma, and the stagnant air in their West Valley City home, with its ugly shape, is not helping. They turned to Salt Lake County for help.

“We waited or tried to move, and there was no way to move,” said Patricia.

The county is providing interest-bearing loans through the Green and Healthy Homes program to clean lead paint, replace old windows, and install fresh HV systems.

“It would be great if I could breathe again,” said Cornelius, who had previously retired due to health issues, including sleep disorders.

The money will be returned when the officials sell the house or change the title.

“People are more at home with the epidemic, so it should be a safer place,” said Jordan Carol, spokesman for the regional development office.

The Green and Healthy Housing Program is not new, it renovates about 80 homes each year. County officials say the renovation will improve families’ health, reduce school and work days, travel to the hospital and lower utility bills, leaving more money for families to invest in their quality of life.

While improved windows and a well-functioning stove may have improved homeowners’ health and financial stability, the county did not gather strong evidence.

“We knew there were benefits, but we never got any information,” says Carol.

This summer, the county is working with scientists to provide that information in 10 homes in the valley, including the headlines. Outdoor, indoor and outdoor air conditioners collect ozone and methane pollution from inverted smoke and wildfire smoke. Researchers compare the numbers before and after a home is renovated.

Scott Collingwood, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the study, says: “A well-functioning family environment serves as a breath of fresh air.” If he is doing it right, he should provide all of us with outdoor air quality.

(Francisco Kijolz | Salt Lake Tribune) West Valley City home owner Patricia Hailey, Salt Lake County project manager and AQUEHS, CORP general manager, joins Daniel Mendozan as they set fire to two air conditioners. And Tuesday, August 17, 2021 outside Headley House. Mendoza quickly noticed that the air quality in the house was slightly worse that day. The County Green and Healthy Housing Program is conducting research to help families make changes to improve the quality of air in their homes.

Recently, Western fires suffocated Wasatch’s forehead and air monitors flooded the Headleys space, for example, showing that the air quality inside was worse than outside.

Daniel Mendoza, general manager of AQUEHS Corporation, a partner in the study, said:

The proposed improvements should help fix that and make headers breathe more easily and safely.

The county spent $ 200,000 to purchase the equipment and launch the indoor air conditioning pilot. The Green and Healthy Housing Program costs about $ 1,000 per project to assess household pollution, Carol said.

Some surveillance equipment is so large that it does not turn off like an electric razor in the background.

But for Patricia Haile, any peace of mind from the air traffic controllers is worth it. Reviews from Green and Healthy Homes have found pencil paint in the backyard of the house where grandchildren play frequently.

“If they hadn’t come out and done any tests, we wouldn’t have known,” she said, adding that the children were then evaluated by doctors. “[But] Because you got a pencil, we are eligible for other services. Otherwise, we would not know what to do. … It’s like a miracle. ”

How to improve air quality in your home

Poor indoor air quality can affect anyone, regardless of income. Here are some simple and inexpensive steps to improve your living space for homeowners and tenants who are not eligible for green and healthy housing.

• Fix damaged paint. Pencil-based paint was not banned in the United States until 1978, so even if it is deep, there is a good chance of lead in old-fashioned paints. Pencils are bad for everyone, especially children. The good news is that well-adjusted color is not usually a concern, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. If you have a fading color inside or outside the house, paint over it and fix the floor. Look for areas that are frequently painted and dust-stained, such as windows and doors. EPA has better pencil color safety advice online.

• Dust and emptiness. One of the easiest ways to improve indoor air quality is to maintain a regular flooring. Using a damp, damp, or damp cloth can help prevent air pollution. The Green and Healthy Homes Program also recommends the use of natural cleaners, as they can contain strong organic compounds that irritate the eyes and nose and can cause long-term damage.

• George: Test for Redon. Utah is a high-risk Rodon. When gas occurs naturally in our soil, it can leak into the foundation and floor walls, focusing on the home and causing health issues such as lung cancer. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality recommends using a discounted $ 11 kit from Alpha Energy Laboratories, which you can use to collect air samples yourself, and then mail it to get the results. If there are high levels in your home, both DEQ and EPA recommend hiring a professional to install a ventilation system. According to DEQ, that price should be around $ 1,500.

• Check ventilation. Check for weathering around windows and doors to keep your energy bills low and to avoid outside pollution. Change your HVAC filter every three months. And while steam coolers are popular in dry Utah, Brian Cleton, along with the Salt Lake County Green and Healthy Homes program, recommends switching to air conditioning units. Clatton’s “swamp cooler” brings in all the pollen, smoke, and everything outside.

• Keep things dry. Moisture is mold and can have dangerous health effects. The Green and Healthy Housing Program recommends a sewer pipe (when was the last time you inspected the cabinet under your kitchen sink) and your roof? Check rainwater channels away from your home and do not penetrate. You can also install ventilation fans in bathrooms.

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