SCIENCE: CLEANING INDOOR AIR WILL IMPROVE HUMAN HEALTH AND COGNITION

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COMMENTARY:

Joseph Allen, the “air investigator”, was apparently on board early in the COVID-19 epidemic, stressing the importance of suspended  air particulates, less than 2 microns in size, causing transmission of the disease.

His article in Science: “clean indoor air will improve human health and cognition” is well worth reading, or at least inspecting the info graphic. As a practicing allergist, I was aware that inside dust mite particles and mold spores made allergies worse. We had a service where we would go into homes and sample the air. An excess of certain Indoor mold spores, compared with those outside, would indicate a “problem home”. We would then try to find the water leakage source that produced the molds.

I also had a patient who could not tolerate a new house, with its carpets and other artificial materials. The only place where she felt better was in an old seaside house 100 miles south of San Francisco. I thought there were some psychological factors, but who knows? Volatile organic compounds, VOCs, probably affect some people more severely.

Beginning shortly after the energy crisis in the 80s, the “sick building syndrome”, characterized by headache and fatigue in certain buildings, was on the news. The eventual solution was to create better ventilation, with a reduction of CO2 and VOCs in those buildings. In addition, federal agencies began banning certain artificial  fabrics that out-gassed VOCs.

There was eventually less talk about sick building syndrome, except for the occasional air system which was contaminated with Legionella bacteria.

The present article stresses accumulation of CO2 and VOCs In the stale air in the individual home or office as a cause of diminished attention and productivity.

CO2 monitors still cost about $200, and so I think I am going to just try to increase the ventilation in my office, where I get sleepy in the afternoon, by opening the windows and sliding doors. I wonder about  the indoor CO2 in Scandinavian winters, where depression is increased.

—Dr. C.