Air purifiers, attached garages and multiple chemical sensitivity
Sure, it’s great to park the car in the garage and then walk right into your home, especially in chilly climates like the Northeast or Midwest. But if your home has an attached garage, it may be contributing to allergies and other health problems – especially if anyone in your home has multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) or other reactions to chemicals and odors. In addition to exhaust fumes, there is usually a wide variety of toxic and irritating chemicals that call your garage “home.” And every time you open that convenient door connecting the garage and the house, the chemicals in the garage become the chemicals in the house.
What is multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)?
Everyone is sensitive to chemicals, but for those with MCS have severe allergy-like reactions that are triggered by exposure to a wide variety of chemicals that others barely notice. Severe reactions are triggered by even very low levels of exposure to common household chemicals, and those in your garage are no exception.
So controlling and eliminating chemicals in the air is especially important in homes where one or more people suffer from MCS. That includes as many as 21 million Americans, based on figures from the California Dept. of Health, and that number is twice as large if you include people who describe themselves as “chemically sensitive.”
An air purifier for multiple chemical sensitivity issues, such as the IQAir GC MultiGas,will help clean the air of any chemicals that seep into the house from the garage (as well as those from the kitchen, laundry room and elsewhere). Even if you never open the door connecting your garage and your house, toxic chemicals in your garage can find their way into your the home. Toxins enter through tiny cracks in the walls and holes where plumbing and wiring enter your home. Sources include (but are not limited to):
- Gas cans and car fumes
- Paints and solvents
- Fertilizers and pesticides
How can you avoid multiple chemical sensitivity triggers?
Many experts recommend lowering the pressure in the garage, compared to the house, by installing an exhaust fan in the garage. “This way, if air travels in any direction, it’s from your house to the garage and not the other way around,” one air conditioning expert notes. And, the U.S. EPA cautions to avoid idling your car in your garage, even with the garage door open.
For the MCS sufferer, though, even a well-sealed and ventilated garage can be a source of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and other chemicals at levels sufficient to trigger allergic reactions. In those cases, a portable room air purifier can help keep indoor air clean and MCS symptoms at bay, according to MCS advocacy groups.