Many people are getting sick from working at home in an unhealthy environment. With the majority of Americans working remotely due to COVID-19, many would think that flexible work schedules and increasingly comfortable environments result in fewer sick days. Unfortunately, people spending time at home during the pandemic are realizing that their homes are ill-suited (no pun intended!) as a work environment. If you’ve called in sick to work more since the pandemic began than ever before, you’re not alone. Did you know your home could be the root cause of your illness?
In this blog, we’ll explore why there’s been an increase in illness from remote workers and how you can resolve these issues if you’re among these employees. Let’s get started.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many Americans scrambled to find additional space to set up a home office. Often, they defaulted to areas like their basements. On paper, the basement fit the bill. It was quiet and separated from the rest of the house which reduced noise and disruptions.
Unfortunately, because basements are below ground and generally lack access to natural sunlight, excess moisture can’t easily escape. This creates a breeding ground for mold and other contaminants, which often goes undetected until you begin to use the space more often.
When you first started working in your basement, you may not have thought anything of your symptoms. Eye, nose, and throat irritation; persistent cough; headaches; running nose; irritability; fatigue; vomiting; diarrhea, etc. Those can be the symptoms of everything from seasonal allergies to the flu to COVID-19 to poor air quality.
If your symptoms are persistent overtime without a diagnosed cause, then your first step should be to get your basement tested by an Indoor Air Quality Specialist from IndoorDoctor. According to the EPA, the average American spends approximately 90 percent of their time indoors where the concentration of some pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher than what they would be outdoors.[i] Only with additional information can you take the proper steps for your health.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, then one thing is certain: you can’t continue to work in your basement as it is. And, even if you don’t work directly in your basement, your basement could be the source of your symptoms. Did you know that 40 percent of the air you breathe in your home originates in your basement?
The EPA notes the importance of a home ventilation strategy that includes your basement, and this is why.[ii] Not having a strong ventilation system impacts your health and the health of your loved ones directly. When you invest in comprehensive air quality testing, you can discover what issues you need to address. You can also install the EZ Breathe Basement Ventilation System that improves air quality. Read more here about Why Proper Basement Ventilation Using EZ Breathe is Key to Your Family’s Health.
The good news is that, as long as you’ve addressed the problem itself, you don’t necessarily need to move your office.
Here are just some of the contaminants that an Indoor Air Quality Specialist may find while testing your basement.
Mold is a type of fungus. It can be white, black, orange, green, or purple. It thrives on moisture and lives almost anywhere indoors and outdoors. While harmless in small amounts, mold can prompt a variety of health effects. Symptoms include eye, nose, and throat irritation, infection, headache, memory loss, hair loss, rash, and fatigue. An IndoorDoctor professional will test for mold with mold sampling.
VOCs refers to several different toxic chemicals released into the air of our homes and offices by paint, treated wood, furnishings, cleaners, building materials, office supplies, etc. The EPA designates VOCs as a proven headache trigger as they inflame the sinuses and cause damage to the brain and neurological system.
Ultrafine particles are so small that they can become deeply embedded in your lungs. This causes lung damages and cardiovascular issues. Ultrafine PM is released into the home during combustion reactions and electronic devices (fireplaces, wood stoves, fax machines, photocopiers, etc.). Research suggests that long-term exposure to ultrafine PM can cause or worsen chronic migraines. To measure PM, IndoorDoctor professionals will use a laser particle scanner.
Formaldehyde is cancer-causing gas found in construction materials and household products (ex: foam insulation, disinfectants, paints, cardboard, cosmetics, furniture, etc.). Exposure to formaldehyde often causes symptoms like eye, throat, and nose irritation, dizziness, nausea, coughing, and headache. It can also increase your risk of nose and throat cancer. IndoorDoctor measures formaldehyde in your home onsite and with approved laboratory samples.
Soot is a black powdery or flaky substance that consists largely of amorphous carbon. Incomplete burning of organic matter produces it. If soot goes untreated or is improperly cleaned, then it can be inhaled into the lungs and cause breathing issues. This can prompt asthma, bronchitis, and other severe respiratory illnesses that will restrict your ability to carry out normal activities.
Noxious gases are any gases that are harmful to health or physical well-being. This could include carbon monoxide, sewer gas, and chemical off-gassing. in fact, common symptoms from noxious gasses include fatigue, memory loss, balance issues, headaches disorientation, vomiting, respiratory distress, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Instant monitoring would detect noxious gases.
Read more about the pollutants in your basement and the symptoms they can cause here.
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging onward, offices are unlikely to open anytime soon. Therefore, employees must continue to work from home, and you need a healthy home office space. The solution? Contact IndoorDoctor to book your inspection today. We’ll conduct a comprehensive air quality test to ensure your work environment is as healthy as possible. Until you get a professional to test your home air quality, you can’t know the best way to address the problem.
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