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Calendar >  Healthy Community Healthy You – Air Conditioning – Cool, costly, and sometimes unsafe

Healthy Community Healthy You – Air Conditioning – Cool, costly, and sometimes unsafe

By   /  October 22, 2023  /  No Comments

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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough – Keeping cool in closed spaces such as classrooms, homes, offices, retail places, and dining locations, helps keep us comfortable and balances our body temperature. Naturally, our body has its own air conditioning system which typically results in perspiration to cool ourselves down. Sweating in non-
activity settings isn’t always appropriate given the effects of body odor and our attire. That is why the “luxury” of having air conditioning can save the day when it comes to being too warm or hot. It is a popular feature everywhere it can be installed, including in 0your car. What we read and hear less about are the harmful effects air conditioning systems can have on our health.

When an air conditioning unit is turned on, we make sure no outside air can mix with it. That means the
windows and doors are closed. As a result, no fresh our enters. In most industrialized places, people
spend up to 90% of their day with this inside only air. The key to lowering the risk of the harmful effects
of air conditioning and how much time we spend in it, is making sure the filters of the units are kept
clean. They should also be changed every 3 months, according to most manufacturers. Otherwise, the
risk for inhaling particles that contain mold and airborne sicknesses can increase.

As long as the system is properly maintained, you are unlikely to get sick. However, other than the
environments we control such as our car or house, knowing the “health” status of the air conditioning
unit isn’t information we readily are informed about or have even thought about asking.
Some of the harmful effects of being in air conditioning for too long, even if the unit is kept fairly clean
include:

  1. Increased risk for heart attack and stroke due to the quick drop in temperature someone might
    experience coming from hot to cold. This is because blood pressure will drop quickly with the
    adjustment 0to cold air.
  2. Increased risk for skin irritation due to the moisture being taken out of the air. The combination
    of being inside with less natural light and the air being less hydrating for the skin can lead to
    irritation and inflammation. This can cause conditions such as eczema.
  3. Increased risk for respiratory problems. This is due to the cold, dry air. Possible problems can
    result related to asthma, chest infections, pneumonia and bronchitis. This is especially true for
    children and the elderly.
    Fresh air has higher levels of oxygen, allows for better breathing, and has been shown to improve mood.
    Some people have to have the AC running even when they sleep. Some areas in the world are
    unbearable without it. In other places, homes aren’t even built with AC units. Being in control of the
    temperature is a pleasure we are fortunate to have access too. Like somethings in life, it can be too
    good to be true. Proper maintenance is key but keeping the expense down isn’t always easy. Some
    people would say AC is more than worth the cost. It’s all a matter of preference and how our body
    regulates its own thermostat.
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