Not many people would be sorry to
say goodbye to the insects, rodents, dust mites, bacteria, mold, pollen, animal dander and other debris trapped in their heating
and air conditioning duct systems. Our customers are always amazed to discover the massive amount of dust and debris that
we remove from their HVAC systems. They are, also, always glad they made the decision to have their ducts cleaned.
of us have seen dust collect in inaccessible places in our homes. If you forget to vacuum under your bed for a few weeks you
will find large accumulations of dust. Can you imagine what you'll find in a ventilation system that hasn't been cleaned in
5, 10 or 20 years?
In addition to being unpleasant, the dirt found in heating and air conditioning ductwork is often composed
of biological contaminants such as insects, rodents, duct mites, animal hair and dander, pollen, dead skin, cigarette tar,
asbestos, fungi and bacteria. These contaminants can aggravate allergies, asthma, sinus conditions and headaches in sensitive
people. In its 1997 booklet, "The Inside Story, A Guide to Indoor Air Quality," the EPA reports that "People with breathing
problems, allergies and lung diseases are particularly susceptible to disease causing biological agents in the indoor air.
Contaminated central air handling systems can become breeding grounds for mold, mildew and other sources of biological contamination
and can distribute these contaminants through the building."
Although you will be guaranteed to find a massive accumulation
of dirt in the ventilation systems in older homes, you will also find dust and debris in newly constructed homes. In older
homes we find blanket like clumps of dust and dirt, while in newer homes we find wood particles, sawdust and other construction
debris and garbage. We even find food, soda and beer cans, left by the workers in the ducts.
Many of our customers are
allergy and asthma sufferers who were advised to have their ducts cleaned by their doctors. We receive positive feedback from
a number of these customers, who say that the air seems lighter and cleaner since we cleaned their homes. Research by the
U.S. EPA has demonstrated that HVAC system cleaning may allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive
mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to breakdown, have a longer life span, and generally operate
more effectively that dirty systems.
Indoor air pollution is one risk that you can do something about. In the last
several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more
seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that
people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due
to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors. In addition, people who may be exposed to indoor air pollutants for the
longest periods of time are often those most susceptible to the effects of indoor air pollution. Such groups include the young,
the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease. (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldresources)
Health Effects From Biological Contaminants Some biological contaminants trigger allergic reactions, including hypersensitivity
pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis, and some types of asthma. Infectious illnesses, such as influenza, measles, and chicken pox
are transmitted through the air. Molds and mildews release disease-causing toxins. Symptoms of health problems caused by biological
pollutants include sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, fever, and digestive problems.
Allergic reactions occur only after repeated exposure to a specific biological allergen. However, that reaction may occur
immediately upon re-exposure or after multiple exposures over time. As a result, people who have noticed only mild allergic
reactions, or no reactions at all, may suddenly find themselves very sensitive to particular allergens. Some diseases, like
humidifier fever, are associated with exposure to toxins from microorganisms that can grow in large building ventilation systems.
However, these diseases can also be traced to microorganisms that grow in home heating and cooling systems and humidifiers.
Children, elderly people, and people with breathing problems, allergies, and lung diseases are particularly susceptible
to disease-causing biological agents in the indoor air. Keep the house clean. House dust mites, pollens, animal dander, and
other allergy-causing agents can be reduced, although not eliminated, through duct cleaning.
People who are allergic
to these pollutants should use allergen-proof mattress encasements, wash bedding in hot (130o F) water, and avoid room furnishings
that accumulate dust, especially if they cannot be washed in hot water. Allergic individuals should also leave the house while
it is being vacuumed because vacuuming can actually increase airborne levels of mite allergens and other biological contaminants.
Using central vacuum systems that are vented to the outdoors or vacuums with high efficiency filters may also be of help.
To learn more about biological pollutants, read http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/bio_1.html, issued by the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission and the American Lung Association. Health and Mold Molds can trigger asthma episodes in sensitive
individuals with asthma (See Asthma Section above); molds can also trigger allergies in sensitive individuals. See: EPA's
Asthma web site, http://www.epa.gov/iaq/asthma/index.html EPA's Asthma Brochure, http://www.epa.gov/asthma/asthma.html EPA's
Mold page from Asthma web site, http://www.epa.gov/iaq/asthma/triggers/molds.html
EPA's publication, Indoor Air Pollution:
An Introduction for Health Professionals, http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/hpguide.html, assists health professionals (especially
the primary care physician) in diagnosis of patient symptoms that could be related to an indoor air pollution problem. It
addresses the health problems that may be caused by contaminants encountered daily in the home and office. Organized according
to pollutant or pollutant groups such as environmental tobacco smoke, VOCs, biological pollutants, and sick building syndrome,
this booklet lists key signs and symptoms from exposure to these pollutants, provides a diagnostic checklist and quick reference
summary, and includes suggestions for remedial action. Also includes references for information contained in each section.
This booklet was developed by the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission, and the EPA. EPA Document Reference Number 402-R-94-007, 1994. Allergic Reactions – Excerpted from Indoor
Air Pollution: “An Introduction for Health Professionals section on: Animal Dander, Molds, Dust Mites, Other Biologicals”,
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/animal%20dander "A major concern associated with exposure to biological pollutants is allergic
reactions, which range from rhinitis, nasal congestion, conjunctival inflammation, and urticaria to asthma.
triggers for these diseases are allergens derived from house dust mites; other arthropods, including cockroaches; pets (cats,
dogs, birds, rodents); molds; and protein-containing furnishings, including feathers, kapok, etc. In occupational settings,
more unusual allergens (e.g., bacterial enzymes, algae) have caused asthma epidemics. Probably most proteins of non-human
origin can cause asthma in a subset of any appropriately exposed population." Other Web Sites: Consult the Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) website http://www.cdc.gov CDC's National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) http://www.cdc.gov/nceh has
a toll-free telephone number for information and FAXs, including a list of publications: NCEH Health Line 1-888-232-6789.
· CDC's "Molds in the Environment" Factsheet http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/airpollution/mold/moldfacts.htm
Be careful of Duct Cleaning “Deals”
Sorry, you cannot have your ducts cleaned properly for $39, $89, $139 or even $239. A thorough job that takes
2 technicians several hours cannot be performed for anywhere close to one hundred dollars. Many of these companies use bait
and switch advertising. Your air ducting system cannot be cleaned for $89.00 anymore than your carpet can be cleaned for $10.00
per room. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association states that typical duct cleaning costs range from $450.00 to $1,000.00
or more. The Environmental Air Force will usually beat that price by at least $100 and give you more service than any other
providers (see out "Duct Cleaning" page for details).