You may have heard the name Legionnaires’ disease, but what do you know about it? For Boca Raton, Florida, homeowners, Legionnaires’ disease is a serious concern. What can you do to ensure you don’t become exposed to the bacteria that cause this disease? Discover how your home’s indoor air quality can influence your exposure to Legionnaires’ disease and what you can do to protect yourself.
Legionnaires’ Disease Explained
The disease itself takes its name from an outbreak that occurred at the Pennsylvania American Legion convention at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia in July 1976. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella, the bacterium believed to be responsible for the disease, is found in soil and grows in water sources. Some of these sources include natural water environments, such as lakes, rivers and streams. These sources also include human-crafted objects, like water storage tanks, water heaters and air conditioning ducts.
Once Legionella bacteria enter a water supply, they can grow and reproduce, contaminating the water in the process. People can contract Legionnaires’ disease by breathing in droplets of water housing the bacteria and from airborne particles. The CDC notes that Legionnaires’ disease is not spread person to person. Instead, the disease spreads through mist or vapors, such as those from air conditioning systems.
Among those most at risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease are people 50 years and older, smokers and those with underlying health issues such as kidney failure. People exposed to the bacteria often show symptoms that include chills, a cough, diarrhea, fever, headaches and muscle fatigue. Treatment generally consists of antibiotics such as azithromycin or ciprofloxacin.
How Indoor Air Quality Influences Legionnaires’ Disease
As noted above, HVAC systems are among some of the sources that can encourage the growth of Legionella bacteria. Poorly maintained ductwork is often a major culprit that can encourage the growth and distribution of the bacteria throughout buildings.
The quality of the air in your home goes a long way toward discouraging conditions that can influence the growth of Legionella bacteria. Proper ventilation is perhaps the most important element in improving indoor air quality. Signs that your home may not have enough ventilation include:
- Condensation on walls or windows
- Foul-smelling or stuffy air
- Dirty central heating and air conditioning vents
- Mold in areas where books or other objects collect in your home
According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the total volume of air changes that take place per hour between indoor and outdoor or filtered air should be 0.35.
Ways You Can Improve Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality
It goes without saying that the cleaner your house, the fresher your home’s indoor air will be. But cleanliness alone isn’t enough. Ensuring proper ventilation and sanitation of that air is essential.
Outside air enters and exits your home through three different methods: infiltration, mechanical ventilation, and natural ventilation. Infiltrated air enters through openings in your home, such as joints in walls and cracks around windows. Natural ventilation occurs when air passes through open doors and windows, while mechanical ventilation takes place when devices such as exhaust fans or ductwork remove indoor air and distribute filtered outdoor air throughout the house.
Properly maintained HVAC systems are essential to promoting ventilation in the home. At Mechanical Air Conditioning, our ventilation professionals recommend an annual inspection and cleaning of your central heating, cooling and ventilation system. Additionally, using a system of fans, such as tabletop, window, ceiling, kitchen, and bathroom exhaust fans, can be used to augment your HVAC system’s ventilation.
Air Duct Sanitizing
One way to eliminate pooling of contaminated water in your home’s ductwork is through air duct sanitizing. Mechanical Air Conditioning offers a duct sanitizing service that uses the Rapid Recovery Air Purification and Odor Destruction System (Rapid Recovery Unit) from RGF Environmental that destroys odors and kills microbes. Sanitizing ducts can improve indoor air quality, especially for people with respiratory conditions.
Learn more about how air duct sanitizing works and other ways you can reduce the spread of illnesses such as Legionnaires’ disease in your home from the experts at Mechanical Air Conditioning. Call us today at 561-899-4587.
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