Every Tucsonan knows that it’s essential to have air conditioning during the scorching summer in the desert. Anyone could fall victim to a severe case of heatstroke, which can be deadly if not treated promptly. However, the elderly, young children, and those with pre-existing medical conditions are at a high risk of heat-related illnesses. Because of this, air conditioning is a necessity in Arizona. However, there are also potential health risks that come with having central AC. These air conditioning health risks include exposure to contaminants found within indoor air.

Overview of Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is critically important for the overall health of your family. And unfortunately, many homes have heavily contaminated air. In fact, the air inside your home can be more heavily polluted than the outdoor air of a major urban metropolis. Furthermore, since most people spend the majority of their time indoors, they are frequently exposed to this polluted air.

There are many types of contaminants that can affect the quality of your indoor air, ranging from dust mites to viruses to toxins. One toxin in particular is troublesome for homeowners: volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are emitted as a gas from common household products. These include paint, aerosol sprays, cleansers, building materials, furnishings, and even home office equipment. Exposure to high levels of VOCs can result in short-term symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and headache. It can also cause serious, long-term health problems. These include certain cancers, and damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

Types of Air Conditioning Health Risks

So why exactly are indoor air contaminants like VOCs a major problem for homes with central air conditioning? Air conditioning health risks are partly due to the need for energy efficiency. For the past few decades, there has been a strong focus on sealing up homes and eliminating drafts to enhance energy efficiency. The better your home is sealed up, the less cool air it will leak outside during the summer. This means you’ll pay less to cool off your home. However, it also means that your home will get less ventilation. This causes levels of contaminants to build up in the home.

Furthermore, the ductwork of a central air conditioner can be problematic. In metal ductwork, there is a transition joint every four feet. These joints aren’t always sealed properly. In fact, if your ductwork was built in the 1970s, ’80s, or even the ’90s, the transition joints might not have been sealed at all. When the air flows through the ductwork, it creates a negative pressure. This suctions the air from crawl spaces and attics, and pushes that air throughout the rest of your home.

The problem with this is that the air in crawl spaces and attics is often contaminated with particulate matter from rodent feces, mold, and fiberglass insulation. Fiberglass insulation particles can contribute to cancer development. Additionally, exposure to rat droppings and mold can cause other illnesses. For example, breathing in dust contaminated with rodent urine or droppings can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. While hantavirus is treatable, it does have a high mortality rate.

Steps to Take to Address Air Conditioning Health Risks

If the thought of breathing in air infected with off-gassed particles from rat droppings and mold makes you feel a little sick, you’re not alone! No one wants to breathe that in. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to fix the problem. Intelligent Design is a full-service indoor air quality and HVAC company. Our certified technicians can perform a thorough ductwork test to determine if there are any air leaks and if the transition joints aren’t sealed properly. If there is a problem with your ductwork, our technicians can easily fix your ductwork. We also use state-of-the-art duct cleaning technology designed to effectively remove the mold, dirt, pollen, and rodent feces that may be lurking in your ductwork.

Many families also choose to invest in whole-house air sterilization systems. At Intelligent Design, we recommend the Respicare PCO air purification system. The Respicare system sanitizes indoor air. It removes contaminants like VOCs and other chemicals, allergens, dust, and pollen. The UVC-based germicidal purifier even kills viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms that may be lurking in your indoor air. Our technicians can install that for you at a reasonable price.

If you are concerned about the potential air conditioning health risks in your home, Intelligent Design is here to help. Our certified technicians can run a pressure test to see if the ductwork leaks. Additionally, we can perform an indoor air quality analysis, and we can thoroughly clean your AC unit to remove contaminants like mold. When you become our next satisfied customer, you’ll find out for yourself why Intelligent Design is the No. 1 rated HVAC company in Southern Arizona. Would you like to learn more? No problem! Call our office in Tucson today at (520) 462-1538.

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