One element we need to live – It could have saved 29 miners

One element we all share and could have saved 29 miners – we ALL need it to live

The one element which we all share, we all need to live and is the single most important thing that could have saved 29 mine workers lives – AIR. While we do not know the exact cause of the explosion, we do know that Gov. Joe Mancin stated “there needs to be a focus on better ventilation and on sensors to alert mine personnel when gas levels become dangerous”.

In the “old days”, canaries were used in the mines to signal to the workers of any dangerous levels of gases such as methane or carbon monoxide. Remember the phrase “canaries in the coal mines”? Back then, we did not have the ventilation equipment that is available today. I suspect we will find that this will be another example of a completely preventable tragedy – strict laws and regulations which were not practiced. The result is human life and a many, many families with heavy hearts.                
Our common link in this tragedy is that we all breathe air – and, we all share our air. We can survive one month without food, a week without water, but less than 5 minutes without air. Most of us don’t ever think about breathing – unless we have a job like a miner, or some type of lung disease. I learned about how important our air and its quality is when my son was diagnosed with asthma. Educating myself about sources of indoor air pollution and ways to make his life better led me on a journey of making our home – our interior – a safe-haven. As a licensed Interior Designer, I found that our interiors are environments which would either promote health and wellness or promote the development of disease and possibly life-long chronic illness. Through this research, I found our home actually became healthier for our entire family.                                                                                                
Most of what we are breathing we do not see. Our lungs act as a “filter” to unhealthy toxins and allergens. With every breath we take, we are inhaling these particulates into our lungs. Our lungs then transport whatever is in the air via our bloodstream to all of our body’s systems, including our heart, liver, brain and other organs. It is easy to see how important it is to have the air be healthy. As Winston Churchill said “We shape our buildings, then our buildings shape us.”

I learned that our indoor air is 3 to 5 times more polluted than the outside air – and we recirculate it in our air conditioning systems. I found that the average home produces forty pounds of dust per year for every 1,500 square feet of living space – and in each ounce of dust, there are 40,000 dust mites. I learned the average home contains 150 chemicals that are linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological abnormalities. I had no idea that according to the EPA, indoor air quality is among the top 5 environmental risks to public health and repeated exposures to even “low-levels” of allergens can lead to allergic sensitization. The most surprising thing I learned was that everything we bring into our interior, every activity we perform and all the products we use affect our indoor air quality. To me this was empowering because it meant to a large extent, we could actually control the quality of our indoor air.                                                                                                                 
Some suggestions about how to improve your homes indoor air quality are below. The information is given out of respect and in memory of every miner who lost a life this past week.   It is also for all miners who risk their lives every day and who depend on the company they are working for to protect their air quality. Laws need to be practiced, not just preached …. Otherwise, we need to go back to the days of the canaries.


Be aware: C.A.R.E. about your indoor air:
C. Choose healthy products:
Use NO-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints – Ask for Green Labeled Paint Use cleaning products that are unscented, contain no phosphates or petroleum, and are environmentally safe
Use only pure essential oils for aroma with no-phosphates
A. Air out and ventilate
Open the windows at least once a week to flush out toxins
Change the air conditioning filters monthly
Control the moisture to below 60% by fixing leaks and regular maintenance of air conditioner
Use exhaust fans when bathing and cooking
R. Reduce dust and allergens Remove carpeting and replace with hard flooring
Use air cleaning machine with HEPA filter
Encase bedding with dust mite protectors
Vacuum with HEPA filter and damp wipe surfaces
Do not burn candles or incense
E. Eliminate exposure to toxins                                                                                                                              Do not use chemical perfumes in air fresheners or beauty products
Use integrated pest management principles such as bait, traps and natural deterrents to prevent pest’ access to food, water and shelter
Remove your shoes at the door and place walk-off mats at each door entrance
Do not smoke or perform hobbies which require the use of toxic chemicals inside a closed space      

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