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Pandemic: How to Keep a Healthy Home Environment

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Data from Gallup in January 2021 show that the majority or 56 percent of American workers are working from home either full-time or part-time. Among them, 44 percent said they prefer to continue working remotely even after the lifting of pandemic working restrictions.

A Stanford University study shows that 42 percent of American workers are working from home full-time. A separate survey by LiveCareer, an online resume and job search consulting service, shows that 61 percent of those working from home want to continue working remotely indefinitely. Twenty-nine percent said they will quit if they are not allowed to do their job from home.

Many companies already announced their intention to allow their employees to continue working from home long-term. These include big names like Microsoft, Amazon, American Express, Facebook, and Dropbox, among others. Many people will be spending most of their time at home not only during the pandemic but even after vaccinations are fully rolled out. It is therefore important to keep the home environment healthy and supportive to the residents’ well-being.

Air Quality and Temperature

Air is essential to life and the quality of air affects the quality of your life. The air inside your home must be clean, free of toxins, and at the right temperature both in summer and in winter. Indoor air pollution causes not just asthma and allergy but can lead to many other short-term and long-term illnesses, as well. Indoor pollution has many possible causes such as secondhand smoke from tobacco use, certain appliances, household products, materials used in furnishings, and building materials.

You must check if any materials used in building your home are toxic and immediately replace these. For instance, asbestos can be present as floor and ceiling tiles, insulation, furnace or stove gaskets, or roofing shingles. Some old wood used in outdoor structures such as decks contain arsenic. Improper removal of toxic products can also release more toxins into the home hence you must hire experts who know what they are doing.

Carbon monoxide (CO) inhalation is deadly. Symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and chest pain. CO can come from improperly vented fuel-burning appliances that are not maintained. You must not use gas-powered equipment, charcoal grills, or portable camping stoves indoors, or you must install an exhaust fan vented to the outdoors above a gas stove. Install a CO alarm that meets the Underwriters Laboratories Standard UL 2034 near the household’s sleeping area.

Molds, mildew, house dust mites, and bacteria are biological pollutants that are health hazards. Eliminate damp, warm environments such as wet surfaces, water-damaged materials, and standing water where they breed. Rid the house of pests because droppings of mice and rats can cause a variety of diseases while droppings of cockroaches are allergens.

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Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that become gasses at room temperature and can then be inhaled. They are often present in paint, varnishes, wax, aerosol products, cleaning products, glues, art supplies, dry cleaning products, and stored fuels. Check and use products that have no VOC or low VOC levels. If you must use low VOC products, do so in the open air.

An air conditioner filters the air and removes airborne pollutants and molds. It circulates the air and provides proper ventilation. By maintaining the right temperature according to your preference, it keeps the body refreshed even at the height of summer.

Heat and allergies cause discomfort leading to low productivity for those working from home. In the extreme, working in a hot environment can cause heat exhaustion. Immediately take someone with heat exhaustion to the emergency room. Indoor pollution at the extreme can cause severe asthma or breathing difficulty that also needs emergency care.

An air conditioner can only properly filter the air and maintain the temperature if it is also well-maintained. Keep it clean, and change its filter regularly. If you notice that your air conditioner is not working properly, immediately call for air conditioning replacement services. Do not wait until the heat and indoor pollution cause an emergency before you act.

In the winter, you must have an adequate heating system to keep you warm. If you become too cold, your blood pressure increases, you experience vasoconstriction, and you are at risk for cardiovascular disease. You will also have a lower resistance against respiratory illnesses, and you are at risk for inflamed lungs.

When rooms get very cold, condensation creates damp areas where molds develop. This can lead to asthma, respiratory infections, and pneumonitis.

Hire professionals to regularly inspect and maintain your central heating system and its furnaces, flues, and chimneys because these can be sources of CO emissions.

Breathe Well

You can work from home comfortably if you know that you are in a safe and healthy environment. You can join those who opt to work remotely full-time and for good. Doing so will give you more time for yourself and your family, taken from the hours you will otherwise be spending in your commute to and from work.

Your company will also appreciate the fact that according to a study, 94 percent of employers said employees working from home had either the same or higher productivity levels. By maintaining the quality of your air indoors, you can breathe well and carry on.

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