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Your Office Has a Microbiome, and It Might Make You Sick

It’s been about 40 years since we started sealing up walls, windows and doors in offices and homes in the interest of energy savings, and today the unintended after-effects of too-tightly-sealed buildings are making us sick, Wired reports.

“Sick building syndrome,” a term coined to describe an array of illnesses people suffer from working and living in poorly ventilated buildings, has resulted in newer construction with better ventilation. But we still have to deal with trapped-in air — a microbiome of sorts — that contains trillions of micrograms of fine dust particles that can carry anything from mold to disease straight to your lungs.

The effects of indoor air pollution on your health may be experienced immediately, or even years later. After a single exposure, you may have itchy, watery eyes, headaches or a scratchy throat. But long-term conditions such as asthma, decreased lung function and possibly even cancer can show up later.

The good news is that you can make a significant difference in air quality both at home and at work, no matter the age of the building. While there is no safe threshold for particulate matter and air pollution, monitoring the levels in your home and work place may help identify contaminants and may give you an indication of the effect your changes make on indoor air quality.

Commercially purchased air filters may change measurements of health, include lowering the amount of C-reactive protein and other measurements of inflammation and blood vessel function.
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