Indoor Air Quality
Everyone is exposed to a variety of health risks each and every day. Indoor Air Quality is a current issue facing Tribal communities, throughout Indian Country, which communities similar to Bad River’s are put at an immediate disadvantage due to factors related to harsh seasonal weather, clay soils, aging structures, and unavailable funding to invest in proper refurbishing and construction. Scientific evidence has also indicated that the indoor air can become more polluted than almost any polluted-outdoor environment, and with other studies showing the average person spends 90% of their time within indoor environments; it indicates a definite higher risk to a person’s health.
Understanding and maintaining a building or housing structure’s condition can be great knowledge in initial prevention. Houses that have inadequate air circulation, ventilation and exchange usually are candidates for excessive-lingering pollutants. A structure’s ventilation and pressures have proved to be the touchiest and most influential factors contributing to dangerous levels of molds, carbon monoxide, radon and other indoor air pollutants.
Fortunately there are actions that tribal members can take to help themselves, their family, and/or others to reduce the amount of exposure to indoor pollutants. Maintaining your combustible appliances, such as; stoves, water heaters and furnaces, to make sure they are adequately ventilated to outside the house, can be efficient ways to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide. Individual lifestyles can also be the largest factors in how your house will function. Limiting and/or eliminating habits, such as; accidently covering vents, not turning the bathroom fans on during showers, and not maintaining specific appliance’s filtration, can all be easy and cheap methods to reduce exposure and make sure your house is properly functioning.
Some contributing factors, to unhealthy indoor environments, may need direct assistance from your landlord, maintenance department, trained housing inspectors, and/or a community health officials. Within the Air Program, there is an Air Quality Specialist and a Air Quality Technician that is able to assist Bad River community members and staff, concerned with indoor air issues. The Technician or Specialist may then make recommendations, suggestions and simply point you in the right direction to address your issues, if any are found. Sometimes you may only want to help assure yourself(s) that you are not being exposed to dangerous levels of indoor air pollutants. If you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts on any indoor air issues please contact your Air Quality Technician, located within the BRNRD.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants
Radon: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is created from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil and cannot be detected by any human senses. It is a known Class “A” Carcinogen and is actually the leading cause of lung cancer behind tobacco smoke. Only way to know if your home has radon is to test!
VOCs: Volotile Organic Compounds are emitted as gases through certain forms of liquids and solids and can cause serious health effects. VOCs can be emitted from thousands of products and supplies, which include; cleaning agents, paints, permanent markers, and even copiers and printers.
ETS: Environmental Tobacco Smoke is the leading cause of lung cancer among men and women. Many states have taken action against ETS and have made buildings, restaurants, and even cars with small children all smoke free areas.
Moisture & Mold: Mold can be found almost anywhere there is oxygen and water present. If you find mold, first, do not become over concerned. First examine the area and determine the size of area contaminated. If you feel it is too large for yourself to clean contact a professional for advice. If you determine you can tackle it yourself clean the mold and rid the place of the water source. (EPAs Mold Clean-up)
CO: Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and very toxic gas that can be fatal. Many CO issues are contributed from combustion sources, such as; leaky furnaces, water heater, small gas-space heaters, and car exhaust leakage from attached garages. If you feel your home has CO issues immediately contact the Air Department.
Lead: Lead has been known for some time now to cause severe health effects, that include; convulsions, coma, and even death. In the early 1990s lead was considered “the number one environmental health threat to children in the US,” by the Secretary of Department of Health & Human Services.
Asbestos:Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is found in rock and soils. Due to its fiber strength and fire resistance it has been used in numerous types of construction as an insulate for fire retardant. It has been used in roof-shingles, tiles, and other building materials. Particles and fibers can be easily released into the air with almost any type of disturbance of the asbestos material. Although it can be difficult to identify, asbestos can contribute to a person’s development of lung disease.
The Mesothelioma Center: Provides the most up to date information on asbestos related illnesses. They have a team of patient advocates that work one on one with patients and their families connecting them with doctors, treatment centers, support groups and much more during and after diagnosis. More information can be found about the Mesothelioma Center
This and more Indoor Air Pollutant information can be found on the EPA’s Website
For contact information, please see the Natural Resources department contact list on the department home page.