Is The Air In Your Home Safe?



By Kelly Granite Enck

Ten Solutions to Save Air in your HOME.

Nearly every U.S. Air Conditioner and Ducts have "Fiberglass" insulation in them. When they become old, the fiberglass may become loose and float invisible glass fibers into your air. What's worse, you and your family could be breathing them, and chronic exposure could cause Lung Cancer!
Look for A/C filters that capture tiny particles-an example would be the Walmart  Filtrete 1200 Allergen Reduction Filter.  10-25 dollars.

The pink stuff that looks like cotton candy, is dangerous fiberglass, the Pink Panther of insulation, and it comes in batts and blankets. It has long held a pseudo-monopoly in residential insulation, but its negative aspects are beginning to catch up with it. Fiberglass is a health hazard, has been connected with black mold, and is difficult to work with – yet it is still the cheapest choice in today’s market.


The problem is that fiberglass is similar in structure to asbestos (made up of tiny little fibers) and thus raises similar health concerns. Tiny sharp particles break off into the air and can lodge in your skin, eyes and lungs, causing small abrasions which lead to irritation. 

                                                     
Old Fiberglass Air Conditioning Ducts
Fiberglass insulation in your walls, often exposed in basements and attics



Exposed yellow or pink insulation in your basement or attic is a potential health hazard.  Hire a professional contractor to cover it up with drywall or plastic immediately.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds that the air inside your house is dirtier than the air outside. Neil Schachter, M.D., a New York City pulmonologist and author of the book Life and Breath,  states that "whether pollutants in the indoor environment are irritants or allergens, everyone is at risk.” Indeed, common symptoms resulting from indoor air pollution include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, skin irritation, shortness of breath or cough, and fatigue. 

    
                                  I think fiberglass is the asbestos of the future.

Here are some solutions to clean up the Air in your home. Some are easy and not too expensive.


1.  Use organic- non-toxic cleaners for your home, laundry, cosmetics, hair sprays, furniture polish,      candles, and even perfumes. Throw away toxic chemicals stored under your sink, even paint cans. Make sure your garage and attic air is not connected to your indoor home air. 



2.   Replace carpet with hard- 
surface flooring like hardwood, tile or laminate and opt for area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. 
3.  Use high-performance (HEPA) air filters in air conditioners. These filters capture particles such as pollen, smoke, dust mite debris and pet dander as air passes through the filter. They only work if they are changed regularly. Click to see fiberglass under microscope. 

Side Note: Change your cabin filter in your car, ( behind your glove box) and engine filter the next time you change your oil. 

            REPLACE: Air Conditioning and Heating central air system: Think Trane, which makes all their residential a/c systems in Tyler, Texas and they have an active Research and Development DepartmentI spent the last three months looking for a "fiberglass free" Air Conditioner for our new 1,100 square foot condo. Trane has the only "fiberglass free air handler." Yet for some reason -- the plenum box on top will have fiberboard?  Our A/C company said there is no other alternative that they know of yet? And sadly, the new flex ducts they installed in our ceiling were wrapped in fiberglass, called "Green" safe for children and schools only because it had a "backing" that was not fiberglass (this does not mean it is safe to me.) Make sure your City Inspector checks the "duct joints" before your walls are closed up.

I requested a "fiberglass free" air return box and I was able to get this through the AC/Heat company—Trane.

For those like me who want exact details and cost: What we are purchasing from Home Depot/ARS: Includes installation of the following

1. Trane XR 13-3030 2.5 Ton ( installed on the roof of our 10 story condo (300. dollar crane should be used to lift it rather than turning it on it's side and carrying it up a latter.) We picked Trane- because it is "marine coated" for salt air.
2. Trane Air Handler 7A01330 H 21SC Hyperion Variable Speed-TAM 7 (which alos-dehumidifier air before cooling it, and it's quiet.)
3. Pro 8000 Touchscreen w/H.C
4. 20 X 20 Dynamic Air cleaner w/ medias
5. Ultra Violet system dual, this is made by Trane and fits into the new air Handler
            Note: Drywall repair and painting after opening the walls to put the new ducts in is not covered this was 1,500.  And we have asked for a "Duct Sketch" like below. Our condo has 7 register boxes, and 18 feet total of duct. The total cost so far is $11,500 with drywall repair. We had to sell our retirement funds to make our air safer.


REPLACE AIR DUCTS WITH "GREEN DUCTS!" Mark, Operations Manager of Florida Home and Air?ARS in Jacksonville Beach, Florida told me about them. Sadly, we did not get these installed, because I just heard about them. 

Here is what I found: Fiberglass free Products for A/C- Air Handlers
Fiberglass Air Handler: K-Flex USA
This is a Fiberglass free ECHOES RAP plenum for the top of the Trane Air Handler.

4.  Put "vent filters" behind your wall and ceiling vents in your home: You can cut them to size overlap them a bit and slip them behind the vents without even unscrewing them!
            If you are renting or cannot afford to remove old a/c ducts and register boxes, put these little filters behind your "wall air vents" to capture large dust particles.  Best news is they are under $4.00 US dollars. I am using them now and our air feels crisper. See my photo with them in the vent...below.
5.  Buy indoor plants to remove toxins in home!
Dr. B.C. Wolverton, researcher and author of “How to Grow Fresh Air – 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office”, conducted plant studies for NASA and determined that plants can clean pollutants in homes, offices, factories and retail outlets. Later, Wolverton expanded the study and assigned plants a rating from 1 to 10, based on a plant’s ability to remove chemical vapors or indoor air toxins, ease of growth and maintenance, resistance to insect infestation and the rate at which water evaporates from the leaves.
Top ten plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air:

1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

Also called the “Butterfly Palm”. An upright houseplant that is somewhat vase shaped. Specimen plants can reach 10 to 12 foot in height. Prefers a humid area to avoid tip damage. Requires pruning. When selecting an Areca palm look for plants with larger caliber trunks at the base of the plant. Plants that have pencil thin stems tend to topple over and are quite difficult to maintain.

2. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

Also called the “Lady Palm”, this durable palm species adapts well to most interiors. The Rhapis are some of the easiest palms to grow, but each species has its own particular environment and culture requirements. The “Lady Palm” grows slowly, but can grow to more than 14′ in height with broad clumps often having a diameter as wide as their height.

3. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

Also called the “reed palm”, this palm prefers bright indirect light. New plants will lose of some interior foliage as they acclimate to indoor settings. This plant likes to stay uniformly moist, but does not like to be over-watered or to sit in standing water. Indoor palms may attract spider mites which can be controlled by spraying with a soapy solution.

4. Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta)

Grows very well indoors, preferring semi-sun lighting. Avoid direct sunlight, especially in summer. Young plants may need to be supported by a stake. The Ficus grows to 8’ with a spread of 5’. Wear gloves when pruning, as the milky sap may irritate the skin. Water thoroughly when in active growth, then allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering again. In winter keep slightly moist.

5. Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)

The Dracaena grows to 10’ with a spread of 3’. Easy to grow, these plants do best in bright indirect sunlight coming from the east/west. They can adapt to lower light levels if the watering is reduced. Keep the soil evenly moist and mist frequently with warm water. Remove any dead leaves. Leaf tips will go brown if the plant is under watered but this browning may be trimmed.

6. Philodendron (Philodendron sp.)

One of the most durable of all house plants. Philodendrons prefer medium intensity light but will tolerate low light. Direct sun will burn the leaves and stunt plant growth. This plant is available in climbing and non-climbing varieties. When grown indoors, they need to be misted regularly and the leaves kept free of dust. Soil should be evenly moist, but allowed to dry between watering.

7. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

A hardy, drought-tolerant and long-lived plant, the Dwarf Date Palm needs a bright spot which is free of drafts. It grows slowly, reaching heights of 8-10’. The Dwarf Date Palm should not be placed near children’s play areas because it has sharp needle-like spines arranged near the base of the leaf stem. These can easily penetrate skin and even protective clothing.

8. Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii “Alii”)

The Ficus Alii grows easily indoors, and resists insects. It prefers a humid environment and low to medium light when grown indoors. The Ficus Aliii should not be placed near heating or air conditioning vents, or near drafts because this could cause leaf loss. Soil should be kept moist but allowed to dry between watering.

9. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”)

The Boston fern grows to 4’ in height with a spread up to 5’. It has feathery ferns which are best displayed as a hanging plant. It prefers bright indirect sunlight. Keep the soil barely moist and mist frequently with warm water. This plant is prone to spider mites and whitefly which can be controlled using a soapy water spray. Inspect new plants for bugs before bringing them home.

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”)

The Peace Lily is a compact plant which grows to a height of 3’ with a 2’ spread. This hardy plant tolerates neglect. It prefers indirect sunlight and high humidity, but needs to be placed out of drafts. For best results, the Peace Lily should be thoroughly watered, then allowed to go moderately dry between waterings. The leaves should be misted frequently with warm water.


6.  Buy a "Dehumidifier" You'll need one of these if you live in Florida, or buy an A/C with this ability. Maintain your home’s humidity between 30 and 50 percent to prevent mold growth. You can buy a gage from Radio Shack for 20. dollars to report the temperature and humidity. I just read our humidity and it's 58% right now, because we are on the beach. I will need to buy a "Dehumidifier" from Walmart now!  ( price range from $100 to $250)

We just got back from Walmart. Floridians must have had a run to get one tonight. There were only three dehumidifiers left on the shelf, and two of them had open boxes.  We bought the last one for the hefty price of $160. But, the good news is--in one night, we were able to get our humidity down by 15 percent. It is over 100 degrees outside and very humid today. Mold would love it! :)

7.  Purchase a Fan for your bathroom:

Bathrooms need a fan in them to prevent mold. You can purchase a small one from Walmart for 20-40 dollars, which looks old fashion and can be part of the decor.

For 100. US dollars you can test your air with HOME AIR CHECK


8.  Set A/C below  76°F

In Hot Humid Climates: Set A/C temperature to 76°F degrees or lower. The optimal growth temperature range for molds is 77°F to 88°F (20°C to 30°C)

9.  Are Toxins in your bed?

Did you know that your Mattress is made with a "FIRE RETARDANT which is toxic to your brain? And because we are sleeping on them for nearly 8 hours a night, we should protect our air by encasing our mattress with a $50. dollar mattress cover, which locks out toxins. ( They are $99. at Bed Bath and Beyond) Click link to purchase:  "Clean Rest" Mattress Protector  or  an Organic Mattress which is extremely expensive.

10.  Your Shower May Be Dangerous, especially if you like them HOT!

In June 2008, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, a nonprofit environmental organization reported on a study that found that new shower curtains released 108 VOCs into the air over 28 days, and that after a week 40 VOCs were detected in the air. The number dropped to 16 after two weeks, 11 after three weeks and four after four weeks. The study also found that over seven days, one new PVC shower curtain will release VOCs that exceed the guidelines for indoor air quality established by the U.S. Green Building Council. And it noted that the testing didn't replicate temperature and humidity typically found in bathrooms during showers, which would likely increase the concentrations of VOCs released into the air. The solution click links... Eco Choices, shower curtains $60. or Shower curtain by Bean Products 35

"Clean Air" resonated with me, but I felt the need to investigate further the "unseen reality, beyond our breath." My first stop was to The World Sound Healing Conference in San Francisco to hear a lecture on The Quantum Harmonic Oscillator. The room went dark and three pyramids projected on a large screen.


"You can hear the sound of "nature" between the Pyramids of Giza," Dr. Susan Yale said, pausing, "it's a perfect F Sharp." No one moved. She spoke slowly, "If you knew there was a place in the world where you could hear God, would you go?" I always wanted to swim in the Nile. From my memoir, "From Hollywood to God" on Amazon and Kindle books. 
Giza, Egypt
Hiking through Bhutan

Tiger's Temple, Thailand
River Kwai, Thailand

Peru
Tiger's Nest Bhutan



Click link— "From Hollywood to God"  to read my memoir.
The Kingdom of Bhutan
Subscribe to my Blog or my YouTube Channel at Kelly Granite Enck

Sources:

How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office (Penguin; First Edition edition April 1, 1997).
Wolverton Environmental Services (http://www.wolvertonenvironmental.com/air.htm), Last updated May 2009.
http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-safety/tips/dangerous-insulation.htm
http://inspectapedia.com/sickhouse/fiberglass.htm#FAQ

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