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Old 07-21-2010, 05:57 PM
 
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I placed this under Great Debates over Green Living due to the broader spectrum it may encompass regarding other forms of climate control and general conveniences that could pose the same query.

Assuming a person's health is good in general, and they do not need Air Conditioning for health and/or age related reasons, I pose the following theories...

A. Under the "Use It Or Lose It" theory, air conditioning takes the place of our body in regulating temperature and cooling us, when our body does not have to perform this function or performs it to a lesser degree it's ability to do so when needed may be lessened.

This reminds me of an episode of the "Simpsons" when Homer sneaks into a Nursing Home/Care Facility and takes advantage of all the care including Kidney Dialisis...The punch line he delivers is "And here all these years Iv'e been using my own kidney like a sucker!"


B. Air conditioning reduces stress on the body to keep itself cool thereby it does not have to work as hard. The lack of additional stress and burden this task would normally take is healthy for us.

You could broaden this debate to heating and other elements and conveniences of our modern society that may or may not make us more or less capable or healthy. We no longer need the appendix, what present organs will become obsolete for our bodies in the future? Is this harmful, beneficial, or non-consequential?
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Old 07-22-2010, 05:59 AM
 
Location: Texas or Cascais, Portugal
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Although I'm not sure I agree with either theory you posted I personally find that "forced air", whether heated in the winter or air conditioning in the summer; is detrimental to my overall health. I have a tendency to get sinusitis and over the years discovered the cause is not allergies, as so many specialists have declared, but exposure for many hours throughout the day and night to dry forced air. Case in point, I have had extensive allergy testing however, during the months that the pollens I am most allergic to are at their highest levels, e.g., grass pollen in late summer/early fall, I am almost always symptom free. Why? Because it is cool enough at night to have the windows open. It is during the winter months (when none of my allergens are flourishing) that I have the most sinus infections--due to constantly breathing dry, recirculated air. In the Spring and Fall when windows are open and I am breathing fresh air, regardless of pollen counts, I am fine. In July when everyone has their windows closed and breathing cooled air, I again have symptoms. I believe a significant amount of viral and bacterial illnesses would decrease if office buildings began opening the windows and turning off the air conditioning. Large groups of people all breathing the same stale, dry, re-circulated air (which is often coming through filthy duct work and is full of mold spores, bacteria, etc.) is the true culprit. So, I agree that air conditioning is not good for you but, for different reasons.
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:39 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC
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Interesting subject, I've often thought, "what did people do before AC?" as many can't go 10 minutes without it.

I remember a comedian from Haiti saying it was "too hot to have long-term goals." This would have applied to the American South as well, which had a renaissance after the invention of AC (and automobiles). You wonder if the South wasn't built off forced labor (African slaves), maybe it would never have been built.

To answer the question, given the frequent poor air quality, I think AC is better for you then breathing code red air, July in DC. But if people always insist on AC and stay out of the heat as much as possible, I think they'll become much more vulnerable to the heat.
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:54 AM
 
Location: Back in the gym...Yo Adrian!
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Interesting topic and something I've been pondering as well. I recently developed some scratchiness in my throat and congestion as well. These past few weeks we've had a relentless heatwave in the Northeast and I've been spending most of my time in air conditioning--work, home, car etc. I suspect my symptoms are related to the A/C.

During one of my cross country drives, I developed a sore throat sitting in the air conditioned car all day for a week straight.

I would think if filters aren't cleaned or replaced on a regular basis that it could present some health issues with prolonged use.
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Old 07-22-2010, 08:50 AM
 
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While some people suffer adverse affects from a/c, the great majority are benefitted immensely from personal comfort. , not to mention a larger degree of productivity, alertness, better attitude , breathing better, sleeping better, and an overall well being . Aside from comfort cooling, there are MANY industries that rely on cooling of the interior to assist the manufacturing process of a product as well as process cooling where air or chilled water is used directly in the manufacturing machines/product such as the Textile Industry where humidity must be closely regulated. Ive been in the HVAC Trade all my adult life as a Service Tech/Owner and its been a truly satisfying career and rewarding finanically. Closely related to comfort cooling is Refrigeration which has been used in a wide variety of specialized projects including actually turning a running river into ice in Russia and other unusual applications. There are many instances whereby air conditioning is absolutely necessary otherwise a project, job, product simply could not be had nor daily life enjoyed . So...go home now , and crank it up in celebration !

Last edited by 007.5; 07-22-2010 at 08:52 AM.. Reason: add
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Old 07-22-2010, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 007.5 View Post
While some people suffer adverse affects from a/c, the great majority are benefitted immensely from personal comfort. , not to mention a larger degree of productivity, alertness, better attitude , breathing better, sleeping better, and an overall well being . Aside from comfort cooling, there are MANY industries that rely on cooling of the interior to assist the manufacturing process of a product as well as process cooling where air or chilled water is used directly in the manufacturing machines/product such as the Textile Industry where humidity must be closely regulated. Ive been in the HVAC Trade all my adult life as a Service Tech/Owner and its been a truly satisfying career and rewarding finanically. Closely related to comfort cooling is Refrigeration which has been used in a wide variety of specialized projects including actually turning a running river into ice in Russia and other unusual applications. There are many instances whereby air conditioning is absolutely necessary otherwise a project, job, product simply could not be had nor daily life enjoyed . So...go home now , and crank it up in celebration !
Good point!

Just from the number of heat stroke and hypothermia patients we see every year (not including the deaths), environmental control of our living space obviously has its benefits.

That being said, I prefer an open window over any kind of forced air...but conditions are not always amenable.
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:22 AM
 
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I'm not too familiar with the "use it or lose it" theory, but it sounds like it would apply more to learned skills than a body's ability to regulate temperature. I could be wrong but I can't imagine the basic functions like sweating that the body cools itself with get lost.

Also = interesting discussion, thanks OP.
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
I'm not too familiar with the "use it or lose it" theory, but it sounds like it would apply more to learned skills than a body's ability to regulate temperature. I could be wrong but I can't imagine the basic functions like sweating that the body cools itself with get lost.

Also = interesting discussion, thanks OP.
Interestingly, it does apply to climate acclimatization. For example, for those living at high altitudes their whole lives, just one week away is enough to decondition them and they have to reacclimate as if they'd never lived there in the first place.
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:37 AM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
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Clothing is a cultural invention that humans got by without for millennia. Some people still live mostly naked in the tropics. Maybe it is not good for us either.
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:50 AM
 
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Just looking at what I observed when in the military it is a good thng even amoung the young. It prevents many deaths esepcaily when their is a lack of mositure i the air. he military calls this the wet bulb when it is very dangerous for human to do much activity that can lead to heat fatigue or heat stroke.
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