January 28, 2021

And now it’s (Cough, cough!!!) Air Quality

Things were different back then. Yes, there were always people who coughed and sneezed and attributed the symptoms to pollen, allergy, or mold. And then came smog. Today, the national concern is E-coli, dust mites, mildew, rot, mold, viruses, sloughing, dust, dirt, gases, bio-pollutants, smog, dander, fleas, bees, ticks, lice, spiders, moths, spilled food, vomit, animal and human protein substances and odor (urine and feces). I am certain there are a lot more sources of bacteria that I have not mentioned.

As a society, we used to spend a majority of our time outdoors but today, almost 90% of our time is spent indoors. Even worse, in climate-controlled homes, office buildings, restaurants, gyms, and theatres. Called micro-environments, all of us are regularly trapped in these areas where the contaminants listed above literally make people sick. Our federal government has coined the term, “Sick Building Syndrome” to indicate places where the environment is unhealthy. Further, they state that this is how people are getting sick all of the time.

The government has even gone one step further. They refer to carpeting itself as a “sink,” a depository of all of the horrible things mentioned above. It is their recommendation that carpeting in your home should be cleaned on a regular basis in order to remove the contaminants that build up over time. You might recall, in past articles, I have pointed out that most people want to clean fabrics when they see spots or spills but that I have emphasized that the main criteria for cleaning should be when abrasion is taking place.

Because of the mounting health problems that we are experiencing in our society, we must now also be concerned with incorporating the systematic removal of these irritants from our homes and offices. The government suggests preventative cleanings once or twice a year depending upon the habits and usage of different families or office workers or influx of soil and other unhealthy pollutants and this should be considered as a fair and reasonable recommendation. But, it is not just the upholstery or carpet cleaning that is essential, it is the regular vacuuming, the incorporation of specialized filters in your heating system, proper waste disposal, placement of proper doormats, proper use of disinfectants, possible ozone use, and better planning for where your animals can do their business.

Designers and architects today have an additional challenge that exceeds making things look beautiful, comfortable, and practical. They must now learn to incorporate concepts that go beyond ergonomics, beyond design. They must also design for health as well. Especially with all of the marvelous fabrics that are on the market today that literally hide the dirt much more than ever in the past. The truth is clear-air quality and health in the home and office is an essential factor to incorporate into all designs. And clients too need to be educated if they want to fully enjoy their homes and where they work.

A healthy environment is truly not a difficult thing to accomplish when there is good communication between you and your client. It takes an awareness of their particular needs, susceptibilities, and style of living, combined with your awareness and knowledge of the tools necessary to achieve a healthy environment for them. Backache, stress, swollen eyes, rash, sinus, headaches, and runny noses are often becoming a thing of the past through such awareness and utilization of advancements in health today. I’m convinced that no one can continue to take allergy pills forever without side effects but they can live longer, happier lives with less bacteria in their homes.