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Air Conditioners and Your Health

May 23, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

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Air conditioners and your health go hand in hand as every year large numbers of people die due to heat-related strain and illness. During times of extreme heat, emergency personnel urge people without air conditioning to spend large parts of their day in air-conditioned public places like libraries and malls.

With over 300 deaths attributed to heat exposure in 2001, it is easy to see why air temperature regulation is so important. In the U.S. from 1979-1999  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more heat-related deaths than deaths caused by hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined!  Air conditioning is the most effective measure to prevent illness and heat-related deaths. Seniors and infants are particularly susceptible to illness due to extreme heat.

A properly sized air conditioner can also restrict mold and mildew growth by reducing humidity. If the air-conditioned space is chilly and clammy it is probably the result of an oversized unit. This can be dangerous. Over-sized units shut off before reaching the appropriate humidity level thus aiding in mold and mildew growth and leading to probable contamination of the air conditioning unit and transmission of dangerous pollutants and spores via fans and ducts. 

As certainly as air conditioning benefits people, it can be damaging to the environment. Of particular concern is the output of ozone gas which some units produce as a byproduct.

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