Tips for Reducing Indoor Air Pollution

Just as you drink pure water, isn’t it vital to ensure the air you breath is also clean and pure? Everyone can benefit from breathing cleaner air, and many people suffer horribly because of air pollution. It’s common for people to spend 75% of their time in their home and the sources of air pollution in a home can be many. Air pollution can happen during immediate emergency situations, such as a gas leak. It can also be slow, chronic, and less apparent; as with out-gassing of paints, fabrics, and upholstery. There are also biological toxins such as dust mites, pet dander, mold, and mildew.

The variation in chemicals and pollutants can produce a range of effects. For some people, these pollutants bring on headaches, others experience sinus congestion or coughing, and allergic rhinitis is not unheard of. Arguably, most “elevated” attacks are the result of exposure to multiple pollutants all at once, as may happen when painting in a non-ventilated room. But what about the allergies and asthma and other respiratory ailments that are exacerbated by constant exposure to air pollutants?

The Argument for Ventilation

Open your windows! Creating circulation is so important. The recent emphasis on energy conservation has caused homes to be constructed in an air-tight, sealed way; this traps pollutants right in your home. Ventilation can help remove the pollution. The Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute in New Jersey studied indoor air pollution and lung function and their conclusions directly cited improved ventilation as a means to reduce harmful effects of indoor air pollution.

Tips to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home

Have your HVAC system cleaned regularly. The effectiveness of HVAC duct cleaning procedures in improving indoor air quality was examined by Florida International University in Miami; evidence suggested cleaning the system was beneficial.

Replace toxic or chemical-based cleaning products with natural, organic alternatives. There are options available and most appropriate stores carry at least a few of them. Or, make your own- vinegar and baking soda works great on drains.

house plant

Avoid the fragrant, aerosol spray cans. Instead, use essential oils with a diffuser. Lavender, lemongrass, and tea tree or orange-blossom oil work great and don’t contain any air-polluting chemicals. You can also dilute oils in distilled water and use a spray bottle for a chemical-free home or office spray.

Plants are natural air purifiers and great home decor. A study from NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America found that plants suck in toxic chemicals through their leaves, and the roots and soil bacteria remove trace levels of toxic vapors.

As your budget allows, when replacing larger items, begin switching over to chemical-free, non-toxic furniture and bedding. Buy natural wooden furniture, not particleboard.

The Quick and Easy

  • If you smoke, stop.
  • To discourage mold and mildew, keep humidity levels low.
  • Regularly check your fuel-burning appliances for leaks.
  • Invest in a quality indoor air purifier, air filtration is one of the most feasible methods to improve IAQ.

Enjoy the Cumulative Benefits of Breathing Clean Air

Breathing cleaner air isn’t just for folks with asthma, allergies, or children. As much as doing it for the kids warms the cockles of our hearts, the fact is that we ALL can benefit from breathing cleaner air, especially over the long term; research proves it. A Brazilian study evaluated situations where ventilation had been in place for greater than 20 years; researchers found that the long-term air-conditioning offered a protective effect against the building-related worsening of respiratory symptoms.

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

Indoor air pollution has become a serious problem. Discussions about indoor air quality emerged in the 1970s as a result of the energy crisis leading to home construction that was more efficient by way of being sealed up tight… and subsequently lacking ventilation.It’s common knowledge that the lack of ventilation is a detriment to air quality in indoor environments. How? Stagnant air inundates the occupants with a concentration of pollution that negatively impacts the respiratory system. Is it any surprise poor indoor air quality is associated with a cough, allergies, and a collective problem called sick building syndrome?

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick building syndrome describes what happens when a combination of indoor air toxins and lack of ventilation meet the human respiratory system. Because the list of pollutants is so many, and their effects so varied, sick building syndrome has a multitude of symptoms and can rear its head in many ways. In general, however, the most prevalent symptoms include eye irritation and nonspecific upper respiratory symptom. [1] Pollutants such as dust, mold, harmful organisms, bacteria, VOCs, toxic gasses, harmful compounds, and chemical vapors can all produce adverse effects. The combination of one or more of these pollutants can multiply the problem and any compound that can pollute the air can be a factor of sick building syndrome, they need not be inorganic “factory” chemicals. Fungi are “natural” but also an especially major biological pollutant in the indoor environment. As long as moisture and oxygen are available, the mold is able to grow. This leads to it being found on nearly any surface in a building, including carpets, ceiling tiles, insulations, any surfaces, wallpapers, or air conditioning systems. Indoor environments that provide exposure to fungus can cause health problems such as allergy, asthma, pneumonia, airway irritation, and many other different toxic effects.

What Factors Contribute to Sick Building Syndrome?

When air pollutants emanate from building materials and furnishings, they are trapped by the lack of ventilation and are left lingering for you to breathe in. Notable pollutants include VOCs and chemicals from simple and common household cleaners or even furniture. A Japanese study evaluated VOCs emitted from nine pieces of home furniture as potential sources of indoor air pollution. Researchers detected formaldehyde and results revealed that VOC emissions from furniture may significantly impact indoor air quality. Formaldehyde? On a couch?

Indoor Pollution Sources

Sick Building Syndrome
  1. Synthetic Insulation
  2. Poor Air Circulation
  3. Lack of Fresh Air
  4. Smoke
  5. Paint Fumes
  6. Dust mites
  7. Synthetic Carpet Outgassing
  8. Pet Dander
  9. Toxic Household Cleaners
  10. Fabric Outgassing
  11. Natural Gas/CO2
  12. Construction Materials
  13. Bacteria From Toilet Bowl
  14. Mold & Mildew
  15. Lead or Toxic Paint
  16. Carbon Monoxide
  17. Oil & Gas Fumes

How Common is Sick Building Syndrome?

Although it’s mainly limited to developed nations, sick building syndrome has become a global problem and received global attention. An examination of 37 buildings throughout California found that all of the buildings had very ineffective filtering systems. Furthermore, many buildings failed to meet ventilation standards. Is it for lack of codes or lack of enforcement? Well, researchers called for regulators to implement more complete building inspections.

Effects on the Workplace

Part of the reason for sick building syndrome receiving so much attention is because it can have horrible and disastrous consequences for workplace productivity. It makes sense, symptoms of SBS are often direct causes for increased absenteeism and can also progress to situations of a class-action magnitude. Recently, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was asked to evaluate a water-damaged office building where 1300 employees worked and reported respiratory problems, specifically airway irritation. Of course, symptoms were thought to be building related.  Other research has also found that dampness and mold in workplace buildings lead to increased incidence of SBS and reports of bronchial redness.

The Office of Workforce and Career Development at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta examined data collected from employees who were working in a water-damaged building during ongoing repairs and observed no improvement in their respiratory health. They concluded that when a work environment is polluted, it’s not enough to fix the problem as you go along. Relocating everyone to better conditions, while repairs are made, is necessary to create a situation where respiratory health may improve.

Some might expect hospitals to be exempt from indoor air quality problems, right? Well, surprisingly, a survey by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that hospital staff experiences indoor air-related symptoms more even often than office workers! Because of the unique environmental needs of hospitals, they recommended the development of a model for resolving indoor air problems.  I agree the effects of inhaling air contamination are absolutely indisputable, especially those with compromised immune systems. Every hospital should have a task force specifically created to address air quality problems.

How to Confront Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome is a compound problem. When a building lacks ventilation, harmful air pollutants build up to horrible levels and lead to respiratory (and other) problems. Alleviating the problem has to be, at a minimum, a one-two attack. First, ventilation must be increased! Open the window, turn on a fan, consider an air exchange system! Second, reduce the sources of air pollution! As some pollutants are natural byproducts of nature (skin dander), complete removal is difficult… but you can make a world of difference by switching to organic cleaning products, only purchasing organic home furnishings and use non-toxic building materials. Using an efficient air purification system may also help purify your air and remove toxic invaders. Natural versions of Lysol may also be underway. Cedar leaf oil, from the Western red cedar, was evaluated in a Canadian Study as a safe cleansing agent for applications in buildings. Specifically, the alleviation of sick building syndrome.  Your lungs are constantly working and if you’re like most people, you spend a lot of time in your home and workplace – be proactive in making sure the air you breath is clean, healthy, and satisfying.

Urban Apartment Gardening: Gardening Tips For Apartment Dwellers

I remember the days of apartment dwelling with mixed feelings. The spring and summer were especially hard on this lover of green things and dirt. My interior was festooned with houseplants but growing veggies and larger specimens were something of a challenge, having minimal room on the patio or balcony. Fortunately, urban gardening ideas abound and there is a host of ways to grow tiny gardens for the space restricted gardener.

Challenges for Urban Gardening in Apartments

Finesse and commitment are required for urban apartment gardening. Space is not the only issue. Lighting and ventilation pose a concern, as well as the species and varieties which will thrive in confined and restricted spaces. Over the years, I gleaned some tips on how to grow a garden in an apartment. Follow along as we investigate gardening tips for apartment dwellers for a successful tiny landscape that is both beautiful and productive. Many apartment denizens lack an outdoor patio, lanai or balcony on which to grow and nurture green things. Some of the ways to get around this obstacle might be to purchase grow lights or use a hydroponic pod kit. The lights will provide the proper amount of energy while hydroponic kits enhance growth with nutrient solutions and self-watering simplicity. Either solution is available in a space saving model, which is useful for smaller crops or herb gardens.

Budget-minded gardeners may not have the funds to shell out for special urban gardening ideas like these, but there are still some plants that can tolerate a low light windowsill and produce fairly well.

Try herbs like:

Parsley

Chives

Mint Lemon balm

Oregano

The plants won’t get huge, but they will still be healthy enough for you to harvest some fresh grown flavor for your recipes.

Vertical Urban Apartment Gardening

Small spaces can still grow a plethora of plants if you think “up.” Vertical gardening is one of the gardening tips for apartment dwellers that works and conserves space. Growing up allows plants to seek the light and keeps sprawlers from taking over the lanai or balcony. Use stakes, trellises, hanging pots, and layered gardens in step planters to achieve the goal. Choose plants with similar preferences and install them in one large pot. For instance, place a smaller variety tomato in the center and plant herbs like basil or cilantro around it. Use a trellis to train upward a cucumber plant or plant some sweet peas to easily dance up a wall with a string system. Vertical solutions for urban gardening in apartments can be made out of old wood, fencing, wire, and many other free or recycled items. The sky is the limit or maybe it is your imagination.

How to Grow a Garden in an Apartment

The first step is to assess whether you are a candidate for an indoor or outdoor system. Next, choose your containers and decide if vertical gardening is a choice for you. Containers can be almost anything but make sure they are well draining. Use the best soil possible because limited nutrients are a hazard in small spaces. This makes fertilizing especially important since containerized plants have minimal nutrients stored in the soil, and once they use that up they don’t have access to more. The crucial decision is the choice of plants. Take into consideration your zone, lighting, amount of time you wish to spend on the plant and space. Herb gardens are one of the best beginner projects, but over time, you might be able to suspend an indeterminate tomato vine over your curtain rods.

Practice is key and don’t be afraid to step out of the box. Using seeds is a great way to learn how to grow a garden in an apartment with minimal expense and often excellent results.

Apartment Gardening Guide – Information On Apartment Gardening For Beginners

Living in an apartment doesn’t have to mean living without plants. Gardening on a small scale can be enjoyable and fulfilling. Experts will enjoy focusing their attention on a few of the more exotic and exciting species, while apartment gardening for beginners may mean getting to know some spectacular, easy-to-grow plants that can help you find your green thumb. Let’s take a look at some ideas for urban gardening in apartments.

Apartment Gardening Ideas Outdoors:

Outdoor container gardens for apartment dwellers is much easier if you use self-watering containers with reservoirs that hold enough water to keep the soil moist without constant attention. Outdoor containers, particularly those in full sun, dry out quickly on hot days and may need watering more than once a day in the heat of summer. With a self-watering container, you don’t have to arrange your life around a watering schedule. Patios and balconies are ideal places for plants. Before you buy your plants, watch to see how much sun your space receives. Eight hours of direct sunlight per day is considered full sun. Four to six hours is partial shade and less than four hours is shade.

Evaluate the space in spring or summer after all the surrounding trees and shrubs are in full leaf, and choose plants appropriate for the amount of light available. Do you use your outdoor space more in the daytime or at night? White and pastel flowers show best at night, while deep blues and purples need sunlight to show off their colors. If you enjoy a relaxing evening outdoors, consider growing plants that release their fragrance at night, such as nicotiana and moonflower. For small spaces, choose plants that grow up rather than out. Bushy shrubs can soften the appearance of the patio, but they take up a lot of space.

Choose columnar or pyramidal plants for tight spaces. Urban gardening in apartments should be a pleasure, not a chore. If you are short of time, you’ll have lots of lovely plants to choose from that need very little attention. If you want a challenge, you’ll find plenty of plants that fill that need, too.

Above all, choose plants that thrive in your apartment garden conditions, look good, fit well in the space, and appeal to you.

Apartment Gardening Guide Indoors:

Learn to make the most of your indoor gardening space by choosing plants that grow well in a variety of different locations. Reserve bright windowsills for flowering plants that need lots of sun.

Plants with bright or variegated foliage, such as polka dot plant and croton, develop the best color near a bright window but out of direct light. Peace lilies and cast iron plants are noted for their ability to thrive in dim corners and recesses of your apartment. Small potted plants look more appealing in groups. Placing them in small clusters raises the humidity in the surrounding air, and results in healthier plants.

Hanging baskets are a great way to display trailing plants, and it leaves tabletops for plants that are best seen at or below eye level. Small trees add tranquility and tropical appeal to an indoor setting.

Keep in mind that palms can’t be pruned back. Palms grow slowly, and if you choose small specimens you’ll save money and enjoy them for several years. Indoor fruit trees and flowering trees need long periods of bright sunlight every day.

Filling your indoor space with plants creates a relaxing environment and helps purify the air. Peace lilies, pothos and English ivy are among the easiest plants to grow, and NASA studies have shown that they filter toxins such as ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene from the air. Other good plants that improve air quality include date palms, rubber plants and weeping figs.

What to Do In a Mental Health Emergency

Many people are confused about what to do in the face of a mental health emergency. What constitutes a mental health emergency? As with any medical emergency, a mental health emergency can be life threatening. Most of the time mental health emergencies are those involving the threat of suicide or the occurrence of an actual suicide attempt. Other types of mental health emergency may involve the threat of harm to another person. In a situation where a patient is decompensating or becoming psychotic and is being guided by audio/visual hallucinations, it is sometimes possible that there is a threat posed to another person. This is relatively rare but it can happen if someone is extremely agitated, on hallucinatory drugs or is in the grip of an extremely serious psychotic episode with paranoid thoughts that others are planning to harm the individual.

Friends, family, and neighbors are often confused about what to do in the event of such an emergency because they do not who to call for help. Generally, people expect to call their doctor’s office and get an emergency appointment if someone has a high fever or another type of physical symptom. However, it mostly unlikely that anyone can call their psychiatrist for an appointment under the circumstances above. Most psychiatrists are not equipped to handle emergencies in their private offices. That is why when people attempt to call their therapist during off hours they usually hear a recorded message instructing them to go to the emergency room in the event of a crisis.

When someone is in the midst of a severe emotional crisis characterized by suicidal or homicidal intent it is unlikely that they will willingly go to the emergency room even if accompanied by a friend or family member. That is why it is most often necessary to call emergency services at 911 and report that someone is in danger of attempting suicide or has already swallowed pills, cut themselves or done something life threatening. Emergency services in most communities will then send both the police and an EMT ambulance to the site of the reported threat. Both police and the EMT workers will assess the situation and decide whether or not the person needs hospitalization. If the threat is deemed as serious as the phone call indicated they will bring the patient to the hospital emergency room where they will undergo further evaluation and wait until arrangements are made in a local psychiatric facility. Once moved to a psychiatric hospital the patient will be medicated and stabilized until the crisis has passed. The treatment usually includes meetings with the psychiatrist and attendance at group psychotherapy sessions. Once the patient is deemed safe the psychiatric hospital will either return the person home with medication and with recommendations for continued treatment. This process includes meetings with the family members of the patient.

It is extremely important that threats of suicide be taken seriously. This is especially true if the threats have been voiced repeatedly or the person is inebriated or under the influence of drugs. It is a dangerous myth to believe that suicide threats are harmless attempts to get attention. I know of a recent case in which someone repeatedly threatened suicide, no one would listen and the individual, in despair, succeeded in their suicide attempt.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.

Understanding the issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important way to take part in suicide prevention, help others in crisis, and change the conversation around suicide.

We Believe

Hope Can Happen

Suicide is not inevitable for anyone. By starting the conversation, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can prevent suicides and save lives.

We Can All Take Action

Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm, and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can all take to help others.

Crisis Centers are Critical

By offering immediate counseling to everyone that may need it, local crisis centers provide invaluable support at critical times and connect individuals to local services.

Know the Risk Factors

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of.

  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship(s)
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and the Internet)

Know the Warning Signs

Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

utah-suicide-factsFind Behavioral Health Services

Utah Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse

The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) was created as Utah’s substance abuse and mental health authority. DSAMH oversees the publicly funded prevention and treatment system. If you, a friend, or family member is struggling with a mental health problem or a problem with alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, there is help available

SAMHSA National Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357)
TTY: 1-800-487-4889

Also known as, the Treatment Referral Routing Service, this Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish

Other Crisis Resources

Veterans Crisis Line

1-800-273-8255 / Press 1
Text to 838255

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255
TTY 1-800-799-4889

Trevor Lifeline

1-866-488-7386

The Trevor Project provides support to LGBTQ young people 24/7.

Utah Domestic Violence LINKLine

1-800-897-LINK (5465)

University of Utah Statewide Crisis Hotline

801-587-3000, TTY: 801-587-8511

The Warm Line

801-587-1055 – 3:00p – 11:00p

The Warm Line is a recovery support line available daily from 3 p.m.–11 p.m. Certified peer specialists provide callers within Salt Lake County with support, engagement and encouragement. They promote wellness in a nonjudgmental and respectful manner by listening, empowering a person to resolve his or her own problem, and fostering a sense of hope, dignity, and self-respect.

Crises Services

Help Is Available

If you or someone you know is in a life threatening emergency
or in immediate danger of harming themselves, please call 911.CIT-Logo

If you are requesting help for a mental health crisis when calling 911 ask for a CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Officer- they are specially training to help with someone in a mental health crisis.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Find Local Crisis Support

Mental Health Crisis Lines operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are open to anyone needing mental health crisis services.

Click on the map above for crisis counseling, mental health information, and referrals in your county. All calls are confidential and may be made anonymously.

http://utahsuicideprevention.org/map/map.html

County Crisis Phone Number
Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane (800) 574-6763
Box Elder (435) 452-8612
Cache, Rich – After Hours (435) 752-0750(435) 757-3240
Carbon (435) 637-0893
Davis (801) 773-7060
Daggett, Uintah (435) 828-8241
Duchesne (435) 823-6823
Emery 911 or (435) 381-2404
Grand (435) 259-8115
Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne After Hours (800) 523-7412(877)-469-2822
Salt Lake UNI (801) 587-3000
San Juan (435) 979-1588
Summit (435) 649-9079
Tooele (435) 882-5600
Utah (801) 373-7393
Wasatch (801) 318-4016
Washington (435) 634-5600
Weber & Morgan (801) 625-3700

Five Tips for Community Garden Leaders and Organizers

A successful, long-term and healthy garden community requires just as much cultivating as the garden itself. Smart leaders and organizers focus on the people first before the garden is even built. And savvy leaders know that the behavior they model sets the tone for the community as a whole.

No pressure, right?

How to be a good leader:

  • Have an open mind
  • Leave your ego and preconceptions a home
  • Acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of the team
  • Treat all ideas as valuable
  • Be a good listener
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Make sure everyone leaves a meeting in a better place than when they arrived

How do you do this? Here are a few tips…

Tip #1: API – Assume Positive Intentions

People get really passionate about community action and, particularly, gardens. If someone is coming to you with an issue and they seem to be getting up in your grill, keep in mind that whatever is driving them is important to them. They’re not after you, personally (most of the time!) they are trying to solve a problem that is important to them. If you assume positive intentions, these interactions won’t seem as personal and you can collaborate faster and get an issue resolved.

Tip #2: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

We can all hum that iconic tune, but do we exercise it in our dealings with our community members? One of the fundamental principles of organizing (and life in general) is respect for the ideas, opinions, and wishes of others. By respecting people’s contributions you build an environment of trust that is invaluable to a healthy and well-functioning community.

Tip #3: Communicate!

Nobody likes surprises or feeling left out. When your garden group is young, you can’t over communicate. Make open and frequent interactions part of your organizational playbook. And don’t just talk about the good stuff. Let people know everything that is going on so you can overcome obstacles together.

Tip #4: Listen!

There are two types of listening: listening in order to reply and listening in order to understand. If a garden member presents an issue and, as you listen, you’re taking in information to form a rebuttal, you’re not really listening. If you’re listening to really understand, you may not have an answer. And that’s ok. By really listening to what your gardener’s ideas and concerns are, you build an atmosphere of trust and respect and can figure out solutions together.

Tip #5: Practice What You Preach

Whatever the group agrees to, you as a leader and community member, need to respect those wishes and comply with them. Being a leader does not give you special privileges. The rules and group decisions apply to everyone. Period.