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Environmental quality

Ronn Phillips, Arch.D., and Bobbi Hauptmann, Architectural Studies, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia

Environmental quality is an important quality-of-life consideration. Environmental quality can be examined from indoor air quality, mold, radon and water supply perspectives.

Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless and dangerous to humans, animals and plants. Fortunately, there are many visible signs indicating the presence of carbon monoxide.

  • Black soot on or around air registers, flues, burners or access openings to appliances
  • Condensation of moisture on inside windows (humidifiers & vaporizers can also cause condensation)
  • Dead or dying houseplants and animals
  • Abnormal flame characteristics, such as a yellow gas flame instead of blue, flame rolling out of the front of an appliance, or flame lifting off the burner

Indoor Air Quality: Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.

Mold: Molds can be found almost anywhere. They can grow on virtually any substance where moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet and foods. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints. There is no practical way to eliminate all molds and mold spores in the indoor environment. The way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

Water Supply Testing: Household water supplies can be contaminated with harmful bacteria and, in some areas, with high lead levels. The effects of contaminated water can range from diarrhea, cramps and nausea to paralysis, brain and spinal cord damage (especially in children) and lead contamination which can result in miscarriage for pregnant women. Water testing should occur to minimize the effects of contaminated water.

Radon Testing: Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas created by the natural breakdown of materials that contain uranium. It accumulates inside homes by migrating through cracks and openings. Whenever you breathe air containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer, making it important that all homes be tested for the presence of radon.



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Last update: Monday, October 04, 2010