COVID-19 has us all paying a little more attention to the air we breathe, especially when that air is being filtered through a mask. Many of us are also spending more time confined to our homes, although I’ve noticed more and more people out and about in search of fresh air, sunshine and their sanity. I’ll admit, until recently, I never gave much thought to the quality of the air in my house. But as a new homeowner, I’ve learned this is a mistake.
Whether you have a respiratory illness or not, air quality should be a priority. Just as the food we eat and the fluids we drink have an enormous effect on the way our bodies feel and function, the air we breathe can either help or harm us. Luckily, I have some great clients who have helped me gain a better understanding of my new home’s air quality. Here are a few things I’ve learned about airflow, radon, mold and HVAC systems that you might find useful.
Variables like wind direction and window placement will affect the airflow in your home. But that doesn’t mean that it’s out of your control. Casement windows and even shrubs can be placed strategically to create pressure zones and help direct airflow. The size and location of air inlets and outlets will also affect the flow and temperature of your indoor air. Since hot air rises, inlets should be as low as possible with outlets as high as possible. In most cases, the size of inlets and outlets should be equal. If you notice issues with airflow or temperature control, an expert can evaluate your home and recommend strategies that fit your budget.
In addition to a basic home inspection, I chose to have the radon levels in my home checked before closing. After writing this blog post for a client, it seemed like a no-brainer, especially since I live in a part of the country that’s notorious for high radon levels. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (after cigarette smoke), and the EPA estimates that radon leads to more deaths each year than drunk driving. If you smoke or live with someone who does, your risk of developing lung cancer is even higher. The cost of mitigation varies, but it’s often comparable to other common home repairs, and the peace of mind that comes with it is priceless.
Mold and Humidity
Heating and Cooling
Luckily, another client of mine offers professional air duct cleaning. Since my home had previously been rented to a family with small children and not maintained properly, having my ducts cleaned seemed like a wise decision. And when I saw the results, I realized it was worth every penny! Along with bags of dust and grime, my ducts produced crayons, toy cars, paper towel rolls, loose change, Mardi Gras beads and homework (among other junk). After having my ducts cleaned, I learned that contaminants in your air ducts can make your heating and cooling system less effective. In fact, 25-40% of the energy used for heating and cooling a home is wasted. You can improve the air you breathe as well as the efficiency of your HVAC system with professional air duct cleaning.
Yes, Plants Really Can Help
You’ve probably heard that plants can help to filter the carbon dioxide in the air, and that’s true. But they can do a lot more than that. Phytoremediation – the removal of environmental toxins by plants – can help to reduce respiratory symptoms and stress while increasing work performance. One study conducted by NASA suggests that air quality can be improved by incorporating 15-18 houseplants in an 1,800-square-foot home. Just keep in mind that plants can contribute to moisture in the air, so be conscious of the humidity levels in your house.
What have you done to improve the air quality in your home? Tell me in the comments!
Today (Tuesday, May 12) is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) Awareness Day. While it’s been observed each year since 1993, it takes on new meaning in the age of Covid-19. As retail stores in my home state reopen and many people resume some semblance of their normal routines, the threat of M.E. has never been greater. On one hand, the survival rate of coronavirus patients is higher than some original estimates. On the other hand, those who have recovered face an increased risk of complications like M.E. and other post-viral fatigue syndromes.
Recent studies suggest that as many as 10% of people who recover from the coronavirus could develop M.E. in the coming months. Yet funding for research to find a cure is almost nonexistent. Raising awareness and advocating for the millions of people who are affected by this debilitating disease is needed now more than ever. To find out how you can help to make a difference, visit the M.E. Action Network. And for those who are social distancing, here are four things you can do in the safety of your own home to learn more about M.E. and help raise awareness.
1. Download this Incurable #MillionsMissing Facebook cover photo.
2. Watch Unrest on Netflix.
The Sundance award-winning documentary tells the stories of M.E. patients and their families.
3. Read A Girl Behind Dark Glasses by Jessica Taylor-Bearman.
The author shares her diary chronicling her teenage years with M.E. She was able to capture her thoughts with voice-activated technology when she was living in the hospital and unable to write.
4. Explore Inner Landscapes by Christina Baltais
Artist Christina Baltais has created the Inner Landscapes collage series to bring visibility to the lives of people with M.E.
Are you stuck at home and stressed to the max? Try some of these self-care activities to recharge and give yourself a break. You deserve it!
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, and this year it’s unfortunately been overshadowed by a global pandemic. But while we’re all hiding out from the coronavirus, we may as well take a few minutes to educate ourselves.
Q: First things first; what is endometriosis?
A: Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found in other areas of the body.
Q: What is the most common symptom of endometriosis?
A: Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis, but not everyone with endo experiences pain. Pain can be mild or debilitating, and the level of pain doesn’t necessarily reflect the stage or severity of the disease. Other common symptoms include heavy bleeding, digestive issues, infertility, inflammation and fatigue.
Q: On average, how long does it take to get a diagnosis?
A: It takes an average of seven or more years to reach a diagnosis, but many women wait much longer for answers. A lack of awareness and the difficulty of diagnosing endo could be contributing factors.
Q: True or false: the only cure for endometriosis is surgery.
A: False. There is no cure for endometriosis. Surgery is the only way to confirm an endo diagnosis and is a common treatment. But it doesn’t cure endometriosis.
Q: How common is endometriosis?
A: It’s estimated that at least 11% of women and girls have endometriosis. Despite how common it is, there continues to be a lack of awareness, delay in diagnosis and many myths surrounding the disease.
Q: True or false: the only place endometriosis has NOT been found is the spleen.
A: True. Endometriosis can be found anywhere in the body, including the brain, diaphragm and lungs. The spleen is the only organ endometriosis has not been shown to effect.
To learn more about endometriosis and to find out how you can help raise awareness, visit https://www.endofound.org/.
As schools transition to online classes and more people are confined to their homes, I’ve noticed more than a few desperate Facebook posts seeking ideas to keep both kids and adults occupied. It seems as though, for the first time ever, spoonies around the world have suddenly become the “experts” on something. Of course, we don’t always have the energy for activities when we’re stuck at home, but we’ve gotten pretty good at keeping ourselves entertained when we can.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, low-stress boredom buster (that’s family-friendly!), look no further. Here are my top five coloring books to get you started on a colorful, creative journey:
Do you have a favorite coloring book that I didn’t mention here? Tell me in the comments!