What is Indoor Air Quality?
It might surprise you to hear that the air inside your home is often dirtier than the air outside. According to the World Health Organization air in the average home can be 8x more polluted than outdoor air. That’s because indoor air is made up of outdoor air plus all the pollutants and allergens generated from cleaning products, pets, dust, smoke, and so on. Outside we can help but not fully control, but at home let’s be in charge. In order to be in charge you need to know what you have to control. Below is a list of common indoor air pollutants.
Types and Sources of Pollutants in Your Home
Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are pollutants emitted as gases in the atmosphere. Its sources can be solid or liquid with short- and long-term adverse health effects. The most known VOCs are Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Toluene. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors than outdoors. The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that they are 2-5 times higher indoors and can stay in the air long after initial exposure. The measurement is the mass of a chemical per unit volume. In regards to the home, this unit is Cubic Meters (M3). This concentration measurement is given in ppb (part per billion). The World Health Organization provides guidelines regarding the different VOCs concentration with thresholds for households. Sources of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can be found in paints, glue, varnish, solvents, home and laundry cleaning products, DYI material, cleansers and disinfectants, repellents, air fresheners, scented candles, varnishes, cosmetic products, dry-cleaned clothing, furniture, etc. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them and while they are stored in a process known as off gassing. Some of the most common health effects of VOCs are dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, rashes, respiratory and throat irritation (nasal congestion, persistent cough), eye irritation, lethargy, fatigue and increased angina in persons with coronary heart disease. Some of them have been declared group 1 carcinogenic to humans, so they are as dangerous as asbestos or cigarette smoke.
Indoor Air Quality in Buildings
A new term often heard in connection with buildings is “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS), described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as “situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.” While many factors can contribute to SBS, indoor air quality problems occur in as many as 30% of all commercial buildings, according to the World Health Organization. A report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reported that 23% of U.S. office workers experience symptoms related to Sick Building Syndrome, decreasing overall productivity nationwide by 2%. The cost? $60 billion annually. Inadequate ventilation is only one potential cause of Sick Building Syndrome. Contaminants from indoor sources, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can produce acute reactions and cause symptoms such as headaches, respiratory distress, fatigue and other health problems. Along with source removal and increased ventilation, the EPA recommends high-performance air purification as a measure of protection against Sick Building Syndrome. Advance Mechanical offers a range of products to provide effective removal of air pollutants.
Using Technology to Address Indoor Air Quality
Some homes may need technology to greater reduce the pollutants in the air, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma. At Advance Mechanical we offer a wide range of products to reduce particles, germs, and many toxins in the air. We also offer monitoring systems so you will know exactly what is in the air you breathe. Improving air quality in the home is a goal that is easily attainable. Start with the little fixes and then undertake the more complex remedies as needed. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to improve the air you breathe.