EPA Warns of Indoor Air Quality Dangers

Hurricane Zeta’s October arrival prompted the EPA to issue a reminder about indoor air quality hazards. Eco-Rental Solutions shares tips to keep you safe.

In late October, Hurricane Zeta made landfall at 105 miles per hour in Louisiana. The powerful storm caused more than 2 million power outages from Louisiana to parts of the Carolinas, according to Weather.com. Given the magnitude of the hurricane, it’s not surprising that it also left massive destruction in some areas.

The impact of the storm caused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue a reminder urging people to be cognizant of conditions that could lead to poor or dangerous indoor air quality. Here’s a look at the hazards noted, to help you stay safe after the next storm.

Indoor Air Quality Hazards Common After a Hurricane

Riding out a hurricane is a very stressful experience — even more so if your home suffers damage. It’s important to be aware of indoor air quality hazards, because the last thing you want is for a loved one to get hurt or even killed from something so preventable.

The EPA issued a reminder about the following three post-hurricane indoor air quality risks:

  • Portable generators: These devices can prove invaluable when the power is out, but it’s important to use them wisely. Always follow the instructions and use them outside, far from buildings. Failing to do so can lead to deadly levels of carbon monoxide, that can remain hours after the generator has been turned off.
  • Building debris: If your home sustained damage in a hurricane, debris can contain hazardous materials like lead and asbestos — especially in older buildings. This can enter the air, so always wear an N-95 respirator mask, googles, and protective gloves — at minimum — when inside a storm-damaged building.
  • Mold: Hurricane floods can cause unhealthy air, because things typically get moldy when wet for more than two days. Inhaling mold can be very dangerous, so protect yourself by wearing an N-95 respirator mask, googles, and protective gloves — at the very least.

Indoor Air Pollution Health Impact

Adverse health effects from indoor air pollutants can be experienced shortly after exposure or years later, according to the EPA.

Some of the immediate symptoms you might notice include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and irritated eyes, nose, and throat. These can be hard to spot, as many are similar to a cold or viral disease. Therefore, being cognizant of your surroundings is a must, so you can get to the root of the issue.

Other effects that might not present themselves for years could include certain respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer. The EPA notes that there’s still a lot of unknowns surrounding these health issues — i.e., pollutant concentrations and periods of exposure — so additional research is needed to better understand the risks. However, simply knowing these hazards exist should be enough to inspire you to do everything in your power to stay safe.

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