Is Your Air Conditioner Making You Sick?

       By: Janet M Slagell
Posted: 2010-06-19 09:07:54
There's nothing quite like coming inside after a long afternoon in the sun and feeling the cool air provided by your air conditioner. As the cooler temperatures hit your body, you begin to relax and breathe easier. However, this is not always the case. In fact, in recent years, the number of reports about poor indoor air quality has become more prevalent.According to a study by Cornell University, at least 20% of building occupants have experienced the following symptoms (also known as "sick building syndromes") due to the air quality in homes or work locations:Headache, fatigue, shortness of breathe
Sinus congestion, cough or sneezing
Eye, nose, throat and skin irritation
Dizziness or nausea
However, for people who have asthma, allergies, respiratory diseases, a compromised immune system or wear contact lens poor indoor air quality can cause even more aggravation.Some people often suffer with these symptoms for months not realizing that they are caused by the air inside not the elements outside. If you are not sure whether or not you are suffering from health problems as a result of poor indoor air quality, here are some guidelines from the EPA that can help you determine if you have "sick building syndrome".Many people in your office/building are experiencing the same type of problems
The problems go away when you leave the building or are gone for several days (i.e. over the weekend)
The problems seem to occur suddenly
People with respiratory issues, asthma or chemical sensitivities have no problem when outside, but struggle with breathing and have the symptoms listed above when indoors.
Someone else in your building has already been diagnosed with an indoor air-related problem.
If you are a building owner or manager, then you do not want to be held responsible for any health issues of your employees or residents. To prevent your building from becoming another news story, due to poor indoor air quality concerns, here are several steps you can take.Pay attention to your surroundings. Note the air vents in your building. Are they clean? Does there seem to be a moldy or musty smell?
Ask others around you. Occasionally ask co-workers or other building occupants if they have noticed any changes in air quality, leaks or mold/ musty smells around the vents or ceiling tiles. This can be done via e-mail, surveys, door to door-whatever works best for you to collect the information.
Keep records. If residents/workers in a particular spot seem to report an above average amount of complaints, you may need to test the HVAC system in that area or call in a professional to do it for you.
Testing devices are available from many HVAC companies, as well as online. These tests can check for air duct cleanliness as well as allergens and microbial growth.
Taking the time to make sure your AC system is working without causing sickness is important.Many websites provide additional information on the topic of heating and air conditioning. One such site worth visiting is --- Janet Slagell independently author's articles for, Inc. ( ) for search engine marketing. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author, and not of any other person, company, or organization. No guarantee or warranty, express or implied, is made regarding the accuracy, fitness, or use of the content herein.
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