“Indoor air quality” refers to the quality of the air in a home, school, office, or other building environment.
The potential impact of indoor air quality on human health nationally can be noteworthy for several reasons:
• In North America people, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.
• People who are often most susceptible to the adverse effects of pollution (e.g., the very young, older adults, people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease) tend to spend even more time indoors.
• Indoor concentrations of some pollutants have increased in recent decades due to such factors as energy-efficient building construction (when it lacks sufficient mechanical ventilation to ensure adequate air exchange) and increased use of synthetic building materials, furnishings, personal care products, pesticides, and household cleaners.
Outdoor sources: Outdoor air pollutants can enter buildings through open doors, open windows, ventilation systems, and cracks in structures. Some pollutants come indoors through building foundations. For instance, radon forms in the ground as naturally occurring uranium in rocks and soil decay. The radon can then enter buildings through cracks or gaps in structures.
Harmful smoke from chimneys can re-enter homes to pollute the air in the home and neighborhood. In areas with contaminated ground water or soils, volatile chemicals can enter buildings through the same process.
Volatile chemicals in water supplies can also enter indoor air when building occupants use the water (e.g., during showering, cooking).
Finally, when people enter buildings, they can inadvertently bring in soil and dust on their shoes and clothing from the outdoors, along with pollutants that adhere to those particles.
In addition, several other factors affect indoor air quality, including the air exchange rate, outdoor climate, weather conditions, and occupant behavior.
The air exchange rate with the outdoors is an important factor in determining indoor air pollutant concentrations. The air exchange rate is affected by the design, construction, and operating parameters of buildings and is ultimately a function of infiltration (air that flows into structures through openings, joints, and cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings and around windows and doors), natural ventilation (air that flows through opened windows and doors), and mechanical ventilation (air that is forced indoors or vented outdoors by ventilation devices, such as fans or air handling systems).
Outdoor climate and weather conditions combined with occupant behavior can also affect indoor air quality. Weather conditions influence whether building occupants keep windows open or closed and whether they operate air conditioners, humidifiers, or heaters, all of which can affect indoor air quality. Certain climatic conditions can increase the potential for indoor moisture and mold growth if not controlled by adequate ventilation or air conditioning.
Health effects associated with indoor air pollutants can include:
• Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
• Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
• Respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer.
The link between some common indoor air pollutants (e.g., radon, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, Legionella bacterium) and health effects is very well established.
• Radon is a known human carcinogen and is the second leading cause of lung cancer
• Carbon monoxide is toxic, and short-term exposure to elevated carbon monoxide levels in indoor settings can be lethal
• Episodes of Legionnaires' disease, a form of pneumonia caused by exposure to the Legionella bacterium, have been associated with buildings with poorly maintained air conditioning or heating systems
• Numerous indoor air pollutants—dust mites, mold, pet dander, environmental tobacco smoke, cockroach allergens, particulate matter, and others—are “asthma triggers,” meaning that some asthmatics might experience asthma attacks following exposure
While adverse health effects have been attributed to some specific pollutants, the scientific understanding of some indoor air quality issues continues to evolve.
One example is “sick building syndrome,” which occurs when building occupants experience similar symptoms after entering a particular building, with symptoms diminishing or disappearing after they leave the building. These symptoms are increasingly being attributed to a variety of building indoor air attributes.
Researchers also have been investigating the relationship between indoor air quality and important issues not traditionally thought of as related to health, such as student performance in the classroom and productivity in occupational settings
Particulate matter (also referred to as PM or particle pollution) is a complex mixture of solid and/or liquid particles suspended in air. These particles can vary in size, shape and composition. Particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller are inhalable. Once inhaled, particles can affect the heart and lungs and, in some cases, cause serious health effects.
The best way to protect your family and staff would be with an air filtration system either installed or a portable plug in option.
Choose a High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter system that is 99.97% efficient in removing particles as small as 0.3 microns.
HEPA filters are composed of various sized borosilicate fibers, which are pressed together to form a net-like structure with openings large enough for air to pass through, but too small for most particulates.
As part of our new strategy of adapting to post-pandemic realities, we are launching a lineup of innovative air purifiers made by Airpura.
These amazing devices feature HEPA filters that clean your indoor air against bacteria, viruses, and mold spores as well as airborne chemicals and particles.
To encourage small businesses to invest in better ventilation and air filtration to improve indoor air quality, the Government has proposed a temporary Small Businesses Air Quality Improvement Tax Credit.
*This article is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please follow the advice of your local health authorities when making decisions about your own health and the people around you.