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The indoor air we breathe is often dirtier and more polluted than the visible pollution we endure outside. With most of us spending 90% of our time indoors, we are incredibly vulnerable to indoor air pollution. Poor indoor air quality can cause such problems as asthma, respiratory allergies and aggravated emphysema.  There are an estimated 40 million individuals in the United States who are affected by allergies. Learning how to control the environment in an office and in our homes to reduce allergen levels is important for managing allergies and asthma. Individuals who suffer from asthma, or have other respiratory illness may potentially be at a greater risk for health complications associated with poor air quality in their homes.

According to the American Lung Association of Minnesota, elements within our home and workplaces have been increasingly recognized as threats to our respiratory health. The most common pollutants are radon, combustion products, biologicals (molds, pet dander, and pollen), volatile organic compounds, lead dust and asbestos.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health. If these systems are not properly installed, maintained, and operated, these components may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris. If moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth (e.g., mold) is increased and spores from such growth may be released into the office space. Some of these contaminants may cause allergic reactions or other symptoms in people if they are exposed to them.

A simple method to maintain your HVAC systems and improving the air quality in your office and home is cleaning the vent registers (covers).  “Many of us are too busy or simply just don’t look up to notice how filthy our vent registers are” stated Operations Manager of ServiceMaster by J&C Brown Cliff Brown.  “Usually when I point this out to our new customers they will examine their office vents and look back at me with shock and horror on their face!” Brown continued.  When soil builds up on these intake vents, each time the heater or air conditioning cycles, this soil is sucked into the system and then blown back into the room covering employees, customers, desks, and whatever else is within the space.  This process can result in the trigger of asthma and allergies, or cause office members to become sick.  When debris builds up, not only are employees and customers breathing in those particles, but improper cleaning will make your HVAC systems less efficient.  Clean HVAC systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.