Dept of Health - Carroll County Health Department
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Environmental Health – Air Quality

Radon

Sources: Earth and rock beneath home; well water; building materials.

Health Effects: No acute symptoms. Estimated to cause about ten percent of lung cancer deaths. Smokers are at higher risk of developing radon induced lung cancer.

Steps to reduce Radon exposure: Test your home for radon; Get professional advice before planning and carrying out radon reduction measures; Seal cracks and other openings in the basement floor; Ventilate crawl space; Treat radon contaminated well water by aerating or filtering through granulated activated charcoal.

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Resources: http://www2.epa.gov/radon

 

Carbon Monoxide

Sources: Unvented kerosene and gas heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; gas stoves; Automobile exhaust from attached garages; Environmental tobacco smoke.

Health Effects: At low concentrations, fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease. At higher concentrations, impaired vision and coordination, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and nausea. Fatal at very high concentrations.

Steps to reduce Exposure: Keep gas appliances properly adjusted; consider purchasing vented gas space heaters and furnaces; use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters; install and use exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves; open flues when gas fireplaces are in use; do not idle car inside garage; have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system.

Sources: Deteriorating or damaged insulation, fire proofing, or acoustical materials.

Health effects: No acute symptoms. Chest and abdominal cancers and lung diseases. Smokers are at higher risk of developing asbestos induced lung cancer.

Steps to reduce exposure: Seek professional advice to identify potential asbestos problems. Use trained and qualified contractors for control measures that may disturb asbestos for cleanup. Follow proper procedures in replacing wood stove door gaskets that may contain asbestos.

Resources: 

 

Asbestos

Sources: Deteriorating or damaged insulation, fire proofing, or acoustical materials.

Health effects: No acute symptoms. Chest and abdominal cancers and lung diseases. Smokers are at higher risk of developing asbestos induced lung cancer.

Steps to reduce exposure: Seek professional advice to identify potential asbestos problems. Use trained and qualified contractors for control measures that may disturb asbestos for cleanup. Follow proper procedures in replacing wood stove door gaskets that may contain asbestos.

 

Lead

Sources: Automobile exhaust. Sanding or open flame burning of lead based paint. Activities involving lead solder.

Health effects: Impaired mental and physical development in both fetuses and young children. Decreased coordination and mental abilities; damage to kidneys and nervous system, and red blood cells. May increase blood pressure.

Steps to reduce exposure: If you suspect that the paint you are removing may contain lead, have it tested. Leave lead-based paint undisturbed; do not sand or burn off. If lead exposure is suspected, consult your health department about appropriate removal and clean-up procedures and have your blood lead levels tested.

 

Mold

Sources: Mold grows in humid environments where there is excessive moisture in buildings or on building materials such as insulation and drywall in basements and bathrooms or where a water leak has occurred.

Health Effects: Headaches, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reaction and aggravation of asthma symptoms. The vast majority of health problems with mold come from making existing problems worse. Research is ongoing.

Steps to reduce Mold exposure: Prevention is the first step. If there are areas in your home that have excessive moisture, take steps to reduce it. Ventilating the area better, sealing the area where the moisture originates (such as basement walls) or installing dehumidifiers are ways to do this. If mold comes from leaks or flooding, you probably will need to hire a specialist to correct the problem.

 

Wood-fired Boilers (legal to install and use AS OF JUNE 15, 2009)

As fuel prices rise, people look for ways to save on the costs of heating their homes. Recently, using wood-fired/small wood boilers has become increasingly popular. Laws in Maryland now allow these boilers to be sold, installed and used if they meet recently adopted air pollution standards. Existing units are “grandfathered” and may be used until 2014.

Manufacturers are required to place a permanent label on approved units that shows:

1. Month and year of manufacture

2. Model number or name

3. Serial number

4. Date of certification

5. Thermal output rating in million Btu per hour

6. Results of emission standard testing for particulate matter in pounds per million Btu

It is the owner’s responsibility to operate the boiler properly. This means that the units must be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements and only clean wood or clean wood pellets can be burned. Burning such things as treated wood, garbage, plastics, waste oil, and other non-approved materials is prohibited. Not only do such materials create air pollution even in approved furnaces but they also can damage the interior of furnaces and reduce their life expectancies.

Improper use or maintenance of small wood boilers can create a nuisance. If the Health Department receives a valid complaint about one of these units, we will refer it to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Penalties of up to $25,000 can be assessed if MDE takes the matter to court.

The bottom line is that a homeowner should consider all the requirements and potential problems associated with these units before considering buying or installing one. If you would like more information concerning the requirements for these units, you may call MDE at (410) 537-3215 or the Carroll County Health Department.