The home air conditioning system that makes you more comfortable can also be the reason you are not feeling well. Here are three ways your air conditioner can make you sick and how to fix the problem so you can eliminate the health risks.
Airborne Mold, Bacteria, and Fungi
Any time moisture remains on a surface for a period of time, mold and fungus can grow there. This is especially true in an air conditioning system.
In an air conditioner, moisture is pulled from the indoor air as it is cooled. Then, the moisture collects inside the air conditioner unit. This is sometimes why air conditioners drip water. If the air condenser in your air conditioner gets clogged with a foreign material, mold, bacteria, and fungus can grow as the water doesn't drain from the unit.
When mold, bacteria, and fungus grow and live inside your air conditioner, it can get into your home's air, giving off toxic gases. With or without allergies, this situation can worsen them and make you sick. Mold, bacteria, and fungus can cause headaches, difficulty breathing, nausea, and even Legionnaire's Disease. In Philadelphia in 1976, 182 members of the American Legion came down with pneumonia-like symptoms after attending a conference. It was found that a bacteria was living in the water of the conference building's cooling towers. The bacteria got into the building's ventilation system, sickening these people.
It is a good idea to have your air conditioner serviced regularly to keep your system running well, but also so that any mold, bacteria, and fungus can be cleaned from your unit. Change out or clean the filters regularly to remove any contaminants. A trained air conditioner technician can do this maintenance for you.
You can also add an air cleaner system to your unit. An air cleaner uses ultraviolet light to kill airborne bacteria, mold, and viruses from air as it passes through. This will eliminate any air pollutants that appear in your ac unit between services.
Cold Air Makes You More Susceptible to Viruses
Many people get sick in the wintertime when it is cold because they spend most of their time indoors with other people, sharing viruses and bacteria. Also, when you are stuck inside with other people who may be sick, the cold air of the air conditioning can increase your chance of getting sick from their viruses and bacteria.
The cold, dry air from air conditioning causes the insides of your nasal passages to dry out and crack. This gives the bacteria and viruses easy access to get into your body, making you sick. The cold air also causes blood vessels in your throat and nose to constrict, decreasing the number of infection-fighting white blood cells in that part of your body. This can increase your chance of becoming sick because your body doesn't have the ability to fight them off as well as it normally does.
You can still stay healthy while you enjoy cool air conditioning indoors. Be sure to wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, and drink plenty of water just as you would during winter and flu season. By being aware of how viruses are spread in closed off environments will help you to avoid getting sick in any air conditioned building.
Not Enough Fresh Air
A persistent cough, allergies, or frequent headaches could be the result of the bad air where you work. This problem is present in many offices and businesses that are completely sealed off to control the building environment's temperature. Then, cleaning products, ozone from copy machines, or carpet fumes can cause health issues as they are recirculated through the building's air.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers recommends that a ventilation system needs to pump in at least 20 cubic feet of fresh air every minute for each person in the building. Unfortunately, some building's ventilation system and air conditioners only pump in five cubic feet of fresh air per person every minute. This can pollute the air that you are breathing during your entire shift.
If you work in an office that recirculates their air, and you are dealing with a persistent cough, allergies, or headaches, let your building's maintenance know about it. They can check the building's air conditioning and ventilation system for efficiency, then upgrade or repair the system so you get plenty of fresh air.
The benefits of air conditioning definitely outweigh the risks. Be aware of potential problems that air conditioning systems can cause so you can prevent and remove them. For more information, contact a specialist in person or by visiting their website, such as http://www.perryheatingandcooling.com.