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Pattaya Daily News

16 June 2010 :: 14:06:58 pm 25458

Air Conditioners: How Bad Are They For Your Health?

How many people suffer with asthma, coughing, sneezing, itchy skin, sore nasal passages, frequent colds, ear infections, stomach pains, frequent headaches, allergic reactions, irritated throats, watery or dry eyes etc.
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There are toxic elements which are not seen and the effects they have on our health are often associated with other causes, No matter how clean your home is, there are hundreds of pollutants assaulting our senses, so if you find you have two or more of the above symptoms, chances are they are floating around in your home. Two main causes of air conditioner related sicknesses are unnatural coldness and mold. The unnatural coldness and low cooling temperatures are known to lead to illnesses, but these are relatively easy to control. It is the mold that is almost impossible to get rid of once it has a hold on the home.

Runny noses and other flu type symptoms are natural responses to unnatural coldness such as air conditioners.  It is not just a matter of temperature, air conditioning units are not generally fitted with a humidifying function. This causes the air to be very dry which in turn causes the lining of the nose and mouth to become dry and cracked, leading to nose bleeds.

Mold is a microscopic fungi belonging to the fungal family of mushrooms and yeasts which are very adaptive and can reproduce at a rapid speed, leaving a trail of circular patches known as mold spore. You have more than likely seen the mold on decaying wood, window sills, fabrics that have been stored in damp places and even in your wardrobes. There are over 270 species of indoor and outdoor mold, all with associated health risks.

As with any diseases, the most susceptible are the very young, babies and children, pregnant women and the elderly, especially those with respiratory diseases and weak immune systems.  This group of people is far more at risk if exposed to mold. The most dangerous mold is the one that can not be seen.  If it can’t be seen, then it goes undetected and will eventually spread throughout the room exposing everyone in the vicinity to numerous health problems.

Visible mold is easy to treat by cleaning, but detecting mold in an air conditioning unit is quite tricky with many people not realizing that mold can and probably is growing inside the vents and ducts. The high moisture level along with the dust makes it a great place for breeding.

When filters are available for cleaning, you have probably been surprised at the dirt that has collected.  Well now, picture the vents and ducts in the air con system that you are unable to look into. It would be full of pet hairs, dust and dirt all being blown through the ducts and vents into your room, possibly over your bed or on your food and definitely in the air for you to breath in.

Eventually, this unseen problem can and will take its toll on your health and it is of no surprise that Legionnaires Disease, the flu type bacteria that thrives in the Air Con systems  is on the rise. The use of fans is great for circulating the air and deterring the mold from growing, but it also spreads the existing spores making the mold problem worse. The filters in an air conditioning unit were designed to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.  However, as the filters collect the pollutants, they inadvertently become the host to bacteria if not cleaned on a regular basis and so, disperses the bacteria into the air you breathe.

If you feel you have two or more of the symptoms listed, then you need to get a professional in to take a look at the air conditioner and check it for spores which linger in the hoses and ducts. If mold is found, then a professional cleaner is required as soon as possible. Keep a check while they are in the process of cleaning, making sure the job is correctly carried out with the use of certified chemical solutions that contain anti fungi and anti bacterial properties. The use of a vacuum and brush will not be adequate as this procedure will only loosen the mold and bacteria so when the air conditioner is in action, the spores will fly around causing further health problems.

Ideally, the filters should be cleaned once a month. Portable air conditioners run for a quarter of the price of fitted air con units and have multiple filters that are accessible for cleaning.  Many are also fitted with humidifiers which help to prevent the dryness associated with the usual central air conditioning units.

Patty Brown

Photo : Internet   Category : Lifestyle

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