COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent health restrictions, people across the country have spend more time inside over the past year.
As one young woman in Columbus learned, more time indoors became harmful to her health.
An Ohio State University student said the more time she spent inside her off-campus apartment, the worse she felt, experiencing constant headaches, fatigue, even vision loss.
Those symptoms were the result of poor air quality.
Abby Grieff moved to Columbus in August 2019 for her first year of graduate school.
However, shortly after she settled in, the symptoms began.
“I was experiencing a lot of vertigo, so bad, where I was like falling down as I was walking to class,” she said. “Really bad headaches, just fatigue all the time.”
After several trips to the emergency room and no cause for her symptoms determined, Grieff sought help from doctors, audiologists, and a neurologist, but the symptoms persisted for months until COVID-19 hit.
At that point, she left her apartment to stay at her family’s home in Cincinnati.
“That was when I realized I wasn’t having any issues,” Grieff said.
However, anytime she went back to her apartment, her symptoms returned.
Grieff and her family did some research.
“At that point, we had kind of had the idea of, okay, maybe we should get the air quality tested,” she said.
Columbus home inspection company, Habitation Investigation, owned by Jim and Laura Troth, conducted the check, just a two-hour process.
“It takes air in through these tubes and each one of these layers in here reacts to certain chemical compounds,” Laura Troth explained of the testing process.
Those compounds are similar to those found in lotions, scented candles, cleaning products, or varnishes, and could make some people sick.
“Anything that there’s just no explanation for, that doctors have looked at, and they’re like, ‘We have no clue, we think you’re crazy,’ you might not be,” Troth said. “It might be environmental.”
The Troths tested Grieff’s apartment, sent the samples to a local lab for analysis, and had an answer in two days.
“I had elevated cleaning alcohol levels in my apartment,” Grieff said.
Troth said the cleaning alcohol came from Grieff’s apartment complex, but her apartment was small with little ventilation, leading to her symptoms, which Grieff’s neurologist confirmed.
Grieff stayed in the apartment through the end of her lease, in May of last year. Since she’s been out of the apartment, she hasn’t experienced any symptoms.
“I’m feeling much happier and very thankful,” she said. “You know, it was a long process, but I’m very thankful to be where I’m at today and to have known what it was.”
For anyone experiencing symptoms similar to Grieff’s, without a known cause, Troth recommends the air quality test, also known as a volatile organic compound test, which can provide some guidance. However, she adds that you should always take advice or direction from a licensed medical professional.
For more information on Habitation Investigation’s services, click here.