During the winter months, when homes and businesses typically have their windows and doors closed, can result in an increase in indoor air quality (IAQ) complaints. In addition to a lack of fresh air in many buildings during this time, problems due to gases not properly vented from heaters frequently occur.
Nitrogen oxides can be of increased concern during these cold winter months. The two most prevalent oxides of nitrogen are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO). Both are toxic gases and nitrogen dioxide is a highly reactive oxidant and corrosive in nature.
The primary indoor sources are combustion processes, such as unvented combustion appliances, gas stoves, vented appliances with defective installations, welding and tobacco smoke.
The health effects associated with nitrogen dioxide include eye, nose, and throat irritation. Exposure may also cause impaired lung function and increased respiratory infections in young children. Continued exposure to high NO2 levels can contribute to the development of acute or chronic bronchitis. Low level NO2 exposure may cause increased bronchial reactivity in some asthmatics, decreased lung function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and increased risk of respiratory infections, especially in young children.
Qualified environmental and building science professionals can provide air monitoring services to identify nitrogen dioxide and other IAQ contaminants. “These professionals can locate sources and provide steps to reduce exposure in the home. Steps may include venting the nitrogen dioxide sources to the outdoors, and assuring that combustion appliances are correctly installed, used and maintained,” reported Brian Mcfarland, Vice President from Legends Environmental Insurance, a leading provider of insurance coverage to the IAQ and environmental industry.
Legends has sponsored an educational video about potential hazards that may be found in indoor environments due to increased levels of nitrogen dioxide. It can be seen at:
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Legends Environmental Insurance Services is nationally recognized as an innovator in providing environmental and restoration insurance programs. The company has over 30 years experience providing these services in all 50 states.