With more people than ever working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to talk about the quality of the air you’re breathing.
There are many benefits to working remotely, from lower operational costs of running a business to employees having more time to themselves since cutting out their commutes. The initial move to remote work out of necessity to keep people safe has now become a new normal way of life for many.
At the beginning of 2021, it is reported that 42% of the U.S. is now working from home after a year of shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost twice as many employees are working remotely at the start of 2021 compared to the beginning of 2020. Additionally, many businesses are making this change permanently.
“The trend toward working from home has been slowly increasing over the past decade. But those numbers have shifted dramatically in 2020 due to the widespread changes caused by COVID-19,” said Dr. Goodarzi, Canada Research Chair for Radiation Exposure Disease. “We are currently analyzing the impact of this sudden change.”
Just like anything, there are pros and cons of working remotely. By first being aware of the risks, we can do our best to create healthy air quality where we live and work. You can take simple, preventative, actions to make sure your home office environment is healthy and safe.
7 Common Indoor Air Pollutants that can have Significant Health Risks:
- Pollen and Allergens
- Low Ventilation Rates and Carbon Dioxide Concentrations
- Carbon Monoxide
- Asbestos and Lead-based Paint
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)
- Radon Gas Exposure
These hazardous pollutants and gases can be prevented or mitigated. With the correct tools, tips, and preventive measures you can create safe breathing air in your own home. The American Lung Association has shared some additional tips to know if your air is unhealthy. Establishing healthy indoor air quality at home is important to your overall health, especially for those of us working remotely.
10 tips to improve indoor air quality for a healthier home office environment:
- Thoroughly vacuum and clean your home once a week.
- Never smoke indoors.
- Replace your furnace and air filter every 6 to 12 months.
- Use an air purifier.
- Invest in house plants for your workspace.
- Keep humidity levels under 50 percent to avoid mold growth.
- Open your windows when the weather is nice to create ventilation.
- Test for asbestos.
- Invest in a Carbon Monoxide detector.
- Test your home for radon gas.
When it comes to your health and safety when working from home, testing for radon is especially important. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can be found at dangerous levels in your home. You would not know if your home has radon or not because it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.
Consequently, that invisible radioactive gas may be accumulating at elevated levels in your home. This same gas is responsible for the deaths of more than 21,000 Americans every year. Also, it is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
This gas is naturally occurring, originating from the breakdown of uranium in the ground, and enters your home through cracks in the foundation or pipes. Radon damages your lungs when breathed and over time can mutate lung cells, resulting in lung cancer.
The radon risk of working from home
Dr. Goodarzi and other radon researchers are predicting a 35% jump in residential radon exposure from March 2020 onwards.
Due to the current pandemic, people are spending much more time at home than in the past. Before the concern of the pandemic, most people were spending their days in the office or coming and going on the weekends.
If your home has elevated levels of radon, you are being exposed more often than you would if you were spending less time at home. It is as important as ever to test your home for radon to make sure your breathing air is healthy and safe.
If your radon test results come back elevated, install a radon mitigation system. The EPA recommends mitigating your home if the radon levels come back at 4.0pCi/L or above. Learn more about radon and the symptoms of radon gas poisoning here.
Any type of home can have elevated radon levels, regardless of if you have a basement or not – walk-out basements, crawl spaces – any home or building can have radon. Levels can vary between homes in the same neighborhood, even homes right next to one another. Elevated radon levels have been detected in all 50 states.
It is never too late to take action. As you continue to work from home, make sure to take care of your mental and physical health by improving your air quality. The damaging effects of exposure to radioactive radon are completely preventable.
During this new season, one of the simplest ways to make sure you are staying healthy and safe while working from home is to test your home for radon.
Let’s get started – if you live in the Louisville or Lexington area of Kentucky, contact us to schedule your radon test today!