Sick Building Syndrome

By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter
By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter

Knoxville (WVLT) - Whether it's at home, at work or in a car, we spend about 90% of our time indoors.

And researchers have discovered the air pollution inside your home can be much worse than the air pollution outside.

Medical Reporter Jessa Goddard is covering your health with more on why indoor air pollution is nothing to sneeze at.

Unlike outdoor air, indoor air is recycled again and again and that's especially true when the weather gets cool and we keep windows and doors shut.

In fact, indoor air pollution has introduced a new term into the English language, sick building syndrome.

The average home produces 40 pounds of dust for every 1500 square feet of living space.

And standard cardboard filters are only about 15% effective in removing dust and particles from the air.

"So one thing that is important to look at before you use your heating system for the first time for the season is to have a professional service come out and clean the duct work." Ear, nose and throat Doctor Bryan Tigner says common indoor air pollutants include dust, mold and spores, pollen, pet dander and smoke.

And EPA studies indicate indoor levels of many of these pollutants are two to five times higher than air pollutant levels outdoors.

Doctor Tigner recommends you have duct work cleaned professionally every fall and cover vents with electrostatic or high energy particulate air, or hepa, filters.

"And what it does is it has very, very small pores to filter out the particulates that we call antigens or allergens that will cause the symptoms of your allergies if your sensitive," says Dr. Tigner.

Those symptoms can include watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, nasal congestion, itching, coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing, headaches and fatigue.

Beyond symptoms associated with allergies and asthma, indoor air pollutants can lead to respiratory infections.

Doctor Tigner says hidden dangers may lurk in your bed, be sure to wash your sheets every week.

And air fresheners and scented candles are actually irritants, which can trigger allergy symptoms in some people.

According to the EPA, exposure to indoor air pollutants has increased due to the construction of more tightly concealed buildings, reduced ventilation rates and the use of synthetic building materials.

The newer class of antihistamines, including Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra, have proven highly effective at treating most common allergy symptoms.


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