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Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.
There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as:
- Building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
- Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
- Oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products
- Outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution
- Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
The relative importance of any single source depends on how much of a given pollutant it emits and how hazardous those emissions are. In some cases, factors such as how old the source is and whether it is properly maintained are significant. For example, an improperly adjusted gas stove can emit significantly more carbon monoxide than one that is properly adjusted.
Continuous Pollutant Release
Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously. Other sources, related to activities carried out in the home, release pollutants intermittently. These include:
- The use of cleaning products and pesticides in house-keeping
- The use of paint strippers in redecorating activities
- The use of solvents in cleaning and hobby activities
- The use of unvented or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces, or space heaters
High pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods after some of these activities.
One of the greatest known environmental hazards, asbestos exposure can result in a range of debilitating diseases. Exposure to asbestos has proven to result in a wide range of health conditions, including mesothelioma a deadly cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring toxic mineral that was commonly used throughout the 20th century in thousands of products, buildings and many other industries. Asbestos dot com offers a one-stop resource on all asbestos and mesothelioma-related issues ranging from occupational exposure to a mesothelioma diagnosis.
For additional information on Mesothelioma visit the following links.
Mold is a term used to describe a type of fungus that is an often fuzzy-looking growth that appears on the surface of organic materials in damp conditions, both outdoors and indoors. Molds may be gray, black, green, yellow, orange or various other colors, and may have a velvety or wooly texture.
Like other fungi, molds produce tiny spores in order to reproduce. Mold spores continually waft through the air, both indoors and out-of-doors. When mold spores land on a damp spot, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive. Indoors, molds can grow on wood, paper, fabrics, carpet, foods and other organic materials.
Molds are a natural part of the environment, but human health problems may result when people are exposed to large amounts of mold, particularly indoors. Inhaling excessive quantities of airborne mold particles or spores may lead to allergic illness, trigger asthma, cause respiratory infections, or bring about toxic effects from certain chemicals in the mold cells.
When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. There is no practical way to eliminate all molds and mold spores indoors. However, indoor mold growth can be controlled by controlling moisture.
A vector is any organism that can transmit disease-causing agents, such as a virus or bacterium. Control of the vector can prevent and control some diseases. However, in order to control vectors, detailed knowledge must be acquired about their life cycle, preferred hosts and transmission cycles as well as surveillance of populations and habitats.
Harm to Humans
Most vector-borne diseases in the U.S. are animal diseases that are sometimes spread to humans. Often the disease in humans is worse than in the animals. Different vectors may spread the disease from animal to animal or from animal to humans.
In the United States, mosquitoes, flies, fleas and ticks are vectors of disease. By monitoring populations of these organisms as well as the incidence of human illness, Public Health Pest Management plays a vital role in keeping North Carolinians healthy.
Rabies is a viral zoonotic disease, which means it is a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans, as well as being transmitted from animal to animal. Rabies virus is maintained in reservoir populations of animals. In the United States these reservoir animals are wild carnivores (i.e., raccoons in the east, skunks in the midwest) and insectivorous bats. In other parts of the world the domestic dog serves as a reservoir animal. In those countries exposure to rabid dogs is the primary means by which people contract and die from rabies.
Pet Vaccination Laws
Fortunately pet vaccination laws in the U.S. protect us and our pets from rabies. All mammals, including humans, are susceptible to rabies virus infection. Once an animal is exposed and becomes ill, the disease is fatal. Prior to the death of the animal, infectious rabies virus is shed in the saliva of the sick animal. When the infectious animal fights with or bites another animal, the virus is transmitted and the bitten animal may develop rabies. In this way rabies can be maintained in a population of animals. In North Carolina this cycle typically involves raccoons; however raccoons can and do fight with other animals and cause them to become rabid.
It is for this reason that you hear about rabid foxes, skunks, coyotes, groundhogs and other animals on the news. This is also the reason why there are rabid dogs and cats reported every year in North Carolina. Keeping dogs and cats currently vaccinated against rabies will protect them from the disease, and protect the people around them.
The circumstances constituting an emergency situation for human exposure to suspected rabies must satisfy one of the following criteria:
- Bats found in a domicile where people were asleep
- Bite (provoked or not) resulting in skin breakage on either the head or neck
- Bites from bats
- Unprovoked bite from an unvaccinated dog or cat
- Unprovoked bite from a wild animal, such as a raccoon, fox, skunk, or bobcat
Any dog or cat (regardless of rabies vaccination status) that bites a person must be confined and observed for a 10-day period of time per North Carolina Statute 130A through196. The local health director designates the location and conditions of the 10-day confinement. At home confinement is not guaranteed but may be allowed at the discretion of the local health director. If the dog/cat does die or develop clinical symptoms suggestive of rabies during the 10-day confinement period submit the head for rabies diagnostic testing. If the dog or cat does not die or develop clinical signs suggestive of rabies during the 10-day confinement period then it can be concluded that the dog/cat was not shedding rabies virus in its saliva at the time of the bite. Rabies PEP would not be warranted for the bite victim.