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16 August 2007

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Vilhelm Konnander

Dear Carpetblogger,

I believe it is called AC-disease, which of course is only indirectly caused by air conditioning. What makes bacteria and viruses thrive is the constant change of temperatures indoors and outdoors, impairing the immune system and making the body more susceptible to infection. Not an Arab or Turk myself, I am a true believer in the hazards of air conditioning, which of course makes me an even stranger creature than has prevíously been indicated. ;)

Yours,

Vilhelm

Vagabondblogger

Why not? A friend's kid came down with pink eye from gnats! That's what the doctor said.

Myrthe

So, the fear of draft also exists in Turkey? One more thing Armenians and Turks have in common, even though they will never admit it! ;-) After all the years I spent in Armenia, the one thing I still don't understand is this fear of drafts, even in extreme heat! And the only people who get my amazement are other Westerners. I am generally not in favor of using this word "Westerners". But I am starting to think that real division between "the West" and "the East" is the Fear of the Draft.

Robyn

This is very interesting. In China, it is 'the fear of NO draft' which inspires such strange behavior as entering a cold, damp, concrete-floored, unheated room in mid-winter and flinging the windows open while muttering something about 'fresh air'. In China, the general belief is NOT freezing your ass off while you're indoors is the leading cause of illness.
On the other hand, in hot weather air-con (when available) is cranked so far up that you need a sweater to go to the mall.

carpetblogger

VK -- gonna have to disagree with you on this one. I think that's true for people with compromised immune systems, but if you don't get sick from eating 3 day-old doner, or from riding in a CLOSED mashrutka with five different types of drug resistant TB, you're not going to get sick from temperature changes. Hmmmm. maybe Sweden was really part of the FSU. I've often wondered.... ;0

China is the opposite problem! I remember riding a bus through central China with snow blowing in the open windows. Of course, the windows were open to allow people to vomit out them, so the snow was a relief.

Myrthe, Armenia falls firmly in the anti-AC belt. Don't tell say it aloud, but the Azeris are the same way. Shocker!

Melissa Maples

This is by far my biggest daily gripe about life in Turkey. I have to ride the minibus everywhere, which of course isn't air-conditioned, and even in 45-degree heat with wall-to-wall bodies and the sun shining directly into the bus, if I open a window people fly into a panic and start screaming at me to close it. Even my housemates, who are university-educated adults, tut at me anytime I sneeze or cough and say, "it's because you sit in front of that fan all day."

The thing in China actually makes more sense - in many places in the US, government facilities such as prisons and mental hospitals are kept at an artificially low temperature with the idea that since bacteria thrive in heat, the colder the environment the better.

Jownogn

Actually, you can get sick from AC. AC units create condensation that if not drained properly will pool up in the AC draip pans. If the pans are not cleaned mold and bacteria will grow.

carpetblogger

HA! You're wrong too Jownoggin or whatever your name is! We use splits here! No pooling.

And by that argument, I shouldn't leave all those tires and rusting barrels in my backyard either.

Next please.

Ardent

This is the funniest blog I have read in a long time. Your sarcasm had me in fits of laughter.

I think drafts being bad is a European and an Old wives tale. But it is funny that educated people still want to continue the Old wives tale. The other is walking around bare foot. My mother claims that stomach cramps are caused by people walking around bare foot. It makes me laugh.

There is however a disease spread by cooling towers and that is called 'legionnaires' disease. But have never heard of anyone dying of 'legionnaires' in Turkey.

Joy

Carpetblogger,

Everyone knows sitting under the AC does not cause illnesses. It causes failure to pass Turkish level two class. Sorry it's just one of the universal truths. Kinda like the law of gravity.


If you are ever gonna get to Turkish level three you’ve gotta set somewhere other than under the AC vent. Is the mish tense worth it?

Paul

Sorry Carpetblogger but have to disagree hehe. Of course it could be a French plot to undermine your western sensibility...

http://www.env-health.org/a/1390

"The research, based on nearly 1000 women in France, shows that those who worked in buildings with air conditioning systems also had more sickness absence.

"Exposure to [these] systems was a strong and significant risk factor for otorhinolaryngologist attendance and sickness absence," says a report of the research in the International Journal of Epidemiology ( 2004;33: 1-4)."

Now I'm not going to google war it out but I think typing "air conditioner sickness" into Google (it's even a suggested Google completion) indicates people's concerns about air conditioners is not limited to Asia/Middle East

carpetblogger

Hang on there, Paul. Not so fast. That article doesn't specify whether the study shows it's the AC-borne bacteria that the machines are more efficiently moving around and making more people sick (a theory I would be willing to entertain) or the whether the sicknesses are caused by sitting/standing in the path of cold air. The LATTER is what causes illness in this part of the world (as a number of astute commenters have noted). It is the cold air (fans, drafts, open windows, ACs) and NOT the bacteria.

If studies show the french women are getting sick by sitting in front of fans, like Melissa, then I will change my position. 'Cause if the French say it's so, who am I to disagree?

Liza

Here in Israel, I've lost track of how many people have told me that the reason my back/neck/other random body part hurts is because I sleep with either the air conditioner or fan on in my bedroom. It's the same old story whenever I catch a cold as well. Apparently, trying to sleep while tossing and turning in pools of one's own sweat and cursing the oppressive heat and humidity is the healthier way to go... Strange people in this part of the world.

Paul

Ok fair enough. However, I would say that I am not sure people who are paranoid about the a/c have actually decided what exactly they are worried about other than saying no it's not healthy. Obviously as you note diseases are caused by virus not by "cold". The question is really either (a) does a/c result in increased levels of virus or aid the distribution of virus and/or (b) does a/c result in lowered immunity resulting in increased susceptibility to existing virus.

I think the answer to both is yes. Any air distribution system in a closed environment will result in increased distribution of virus. As opposed to that is the increased filtration etc. on modern a/c which may reduce this? In answer to the second one I would say that the drier air from a/c may reduce mucus linings in the nose/mouth and that extreme cold may stress the body and thus immune system. In support of the mucus membrane issue is the warning on Air Conditioners from the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University ( http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/biosi/associates/cold/summercold.html ):

"Air conditioning

Air conditioning itself may contribute to infection with common cold viruses. The lining of the nose is covered with a thin layer of mucus which protects against infection. Since air conditioners extract moisture from the air they may cause some drying of the protective mucous blanket in the nose and predispose to infection. The cold air may also help viruses to establish a hold in the nose as they reproduce better in a cold nose."

I think the flip side to the cold stress argument is that would be dependent on the temperature you are acclimatized/accustomed to. So if you are acclimatised to a colder temp it may stress the body less to experience strong a/c than heat. And v.v.

The association of cold drafts and sickness is definitely not unheard of in NA (as you noted) and most North Americans would similarly frown on someone romping in the snow in a t-shirt. I also thought this discussion on a German expat forum was eerily similar to your posting: http://www.toytowngermany.com/lofi/index.php/t21607.html

Anyway, as OSHA notes ( http://www.osha.gov/Publications/coldcard/coldcard.html ) "LOW TEMPERATURE + WIND SPEED + WETNESS = INJURIES & ILLNESS". So if you arrive at class shortly after taking a shower please wear a toque or die!

p.s. if you're still unsure I think a quick consultation of the Chinese perverse energies ( http://users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/vet/tramod2.htm ), including "Cold Wind" (ignore the summer heat bit and that it's written by a vet) should satisfy you :p

Paul

I can't help posting this :D

"Causes of Pink Eye

...

Inflammatory Conjunctivitis is pink eye caused by some irritation to the eye such as contact lens over wear, getting hit in the eye, dust, dirt, or chemical exposure (fumes, liquid, or solids), excessive rubbing of the eye, crying, not getting enough sleep, and dryness of the eye (from staring at a computer, or being in a windy or drafty place). Some common symptoms of inflammatory conjunctivitis are blurry vision, sore, red, and swollen eyes."

http://www.drhaefs.com/medical_eye_exam/pink_eye.html

carpetblogger

Dude, I am totally going to ban you. Don't you have a job?

Hope I didn't leave any pink eye spores at your place....or maybe it wasn't the AC!

Paul

shit I knew I should have used a pseudonym!

There's few things more conducive to posting useless blog arguments than procrastination ;)

I"m assembling a link arsenal for the pregnancy and cold marble debate...bring it on!!

Narul

This fear of draft in Armenia drives me crazy. In hot 40C weather, my mother-in-law would get horrified every time she would discover that there is draft in the baby's room or we had turned on the fan.

marktristan

OK,
1) Air Conditioner: yes they can assist the spread of some diseases, so maybe in some ways the fear has justification.

And maybe it's a good thing that half the world resists using A/C given how much energy it consumes. Nobody's mentioned how A/C-mad North America emits an awful lot of fossil-sourced CO2 in pursuit of those chilly malls, homes and offices.

2) Drafts. This on the other hand is pretty irrational, right? I think we can agree it's just superstition, but it really draws the flak when you challenge it. It's like slating someone's beliefs.

I hate the stuffy interiors in Ukraine and I had no idea at first why people were so disgusted at me opening their car windows.

Melissa

All I know is that you CAN get sick by sitting under an AC.. Trust me, I am clean freak @ work.. NEVER got sick until I was moved right under the AC! Soo yes AC can make you sick!

Kahren

I actually just got sick from a draft. Everyone on my mom's side of the family also has this problem. A/C, draft, any cold wind blowing on my face for an extended period of time gets me sick every time without fail...and I am from the US. These 'Easterners' have a valid reason to be concerned!

Andre

It is amazing how ignorant the americans are of simple facts of life.
Sitting under the AC in an otherwise warm room provides for temperature gradient in your body that "confuses" your internal thermostat that is among other things is responsible for your body's immune response. It is true, bacteria and viruses make one sick, however, with the latter ALWAYS being around it is up to one's properly functioning immune system whether to get sick or not.

Philip

AC never harmed anyone when it's hot and humid year-round: there's never enough moisture for AC to dry out the air. I live in Texas, and if it weren't for AC, I wouldn't leave the capricious blast of the oscillating fan in my bedroom from May through September.

Chaz

I had a friend who died from the AC.....when it fell on him

Chris Runciman

I sit right in the path of the air conditioner at my office. It blows freezing air striaght at me all day. I have tried discussing this with my colleagues, but they just say I am complaining. They are all quite comfortable in their own seats of course. It is really stressing me out. Should I just take a polar fleece, scarf and hat to work in the summer, even though it's baking hot outside? Do you think I might get sick going in and out of such extreme temepratures all the time?

J.

AC and wind may actually cause harm over time. It may stiffen and ruin your muscles. If you have short hair and don't use scarf, the cold wind will cool down the skin and muscles under. Blood vessels will shrink and you may experience headache and stiff muscles, as an example. Over time, your muscles and blood vessels may be damaged, and you will tolerate less and less before you experience this negative effect. This is the reason you shouldn't drive with windows open or sit directly in the wind from an air cooler.

Also, in some areas of the world, you may witness the "sit on the ground phobia". This is due to radiation and fumes in the ground that may cause nausea. If you lay down to sleep it may actually be deadly in worst case. Usually this is in areas that have frost in the ground during the winter, and is dangerous only during spring and first half of the summer.

Account Deleted

Being an ignorant American, perhaps ignorance really is bliss after all. On a baking hot day it really feels good to have a window open although I don't like AC unless it's ungodly hot out and even then it sucks to have it blasting on me all day.

My neck has never hurt because of air from the inside or outside blowing on it. Amazingly my muscles are more affected by my use or disuse of them and the stuff I eat and drink, as opposed to the air that touches the skin on the outside of my muscles. I continue to have excellent circulation.

I love driving with the windows open (as I mentioned before I don't like AC) and having the wind in my short hair and all that wind on my neck feels good in hot weather. I love going outside and not feeling trapped because I believe that the ground will make me sick if I sit on it (it never has).

I know that my wife will continue to be fertile despite walking around barefoot on a cold floor (but wouldn't that be an awesome form of birth control?). I know that the ground doesn't have any more radiation/"fumes" in it than my apartment and I won't get nausea because I don't live in Chernobyl.

I continue to have excellent health and I can probably count the times I've been sick. I always lay down to sleep (occasionally on the ground) and have not died or gotten sick from it yet.

There are more dangerous things in life: bad drivers, stray dogs, a corrupt healthcare system, people coughing in my face, mafia, etc. I don't think a cool breeze, being barefoot or my body's "temperature gradient" is what will make my life miserable.

Again, I'm probably ignorant but I am living and (hopefully) will continue to live a full and healthy life without being trapped in my mind with old wives' tales and other crap that just doesn't make sense. If you get sick from the draft then I have some snake oil I can get you for a good price to cure it. Just hit me up.

Keep it real. Peace in the Middle East; and of course Eastern Europe. Represent.

Oneplanet4life

The shit about people with compromised immune systems that NEED the A/C, yeah I used to believe that too, maybe for a few it's true, but it's a load of medical bullshit. The A/C is the #1 reason why I feel deathy ill and throwing out my income because that's the #1 reason for why I have lung and pnuemonia issues! That and that alone! If it's hot, I use a fan AWAY from my head and sit under a tree! Your body can't function or digest food when it's always cold and my organs are bloody shivering with the A/C on, and every day when it's on I have to create a fake fever.

Oneplanet4life

And I live in Toronto, Canada! Even at the stores today the A/C made me want to puke!

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