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Senior man opening air conditioning filter in ceiling

Air Conditioning Health Concerns

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Many people view air conditioners as a necessity in the summer, since air conditioners make the hot, humid, stifling days of summer bearable. Air conditioners lower the temperature of indoor air and decrease humidity, resulting in a cooler and drier indoor climate. In addition to added comfort, air conditioners provide protection from heatstroke, a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body loses its ability to properly release heat. While air conditioners offer many benefits, there are also many air conditioning health concerns that can occur if air conditioners are not maintained properly. Some of these air conditioning health concerns are a direct result of built up pollen, fungi, and bacteria in the air conditioning system. These issues can trigger asthma attacks; eye, nose, and throat irritation; and flu-like illnesses. Proper air conditioner maintenance can reduce the risk of air conditioning health concerns.

Respiratory Tract Infections

Poorly maintained air conditioners have been proven to cause upper respiratory tract infections, which include the common cold, sore throat, and tonsillitis. Dirty air filters can also cause dust and other airborne bacteria to recirculate in a building, which only perpetuates and increases the risk of catching these infections. Studies have established that a large percentage of absences from work can be directly attributed to upper respiratory tract infections that occur from the circulation of airborne bacteria and fungi through air conditioning systems.

Legionnaires’ Disease

Another common air conditioning health concern is Legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella, which is found in the warm, moist environments of an air conditioner. Initial symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include loss of energy, headache, nausea, body aches, high fever (often above 104 degrees) and chest pains. If not treated immediately, Legionnaires’ disease can often affect bodily systems and cause permanent physical or mental impairment. The disease can even be fatal if the body’s high fever and antibodies do not defeat it.

While air conditioners provide many benefits to the alternative of hot, miserable summer months, some health concerns exist. The risk can be greatly reduced by properly maintaining one’s air conditioner. For details on how to properly maintain an air conditioner, it is always a good idea to talk to a professional.

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