Indoor Air Quality Monitoring
People are immersed in an ocean of air every minute of the day, whether they are running a marathon or asleep in your bedroom. One’s health depends on the continuous balance of inspiration and expiration, the delicate exchange of gases between you and Earth’s atmosphere.
According to a study by the California EPA, every man, woman and child exchanges between 10,000 and 70,000 liters of air every 24 hours, just to sustain life. With this kind of dependence, one can imagine how important the physical and chemicals properties of your air must be. At that rate, day in and day out, even very minute levels of airborne toxins pose significant health concerns.
And yet, air quality is often overlooked, compared to concerns about what’s in your food and water.
There was a time, long ago, when humans spent most of their time outside. But today, of course, this is not the case. The average person spends 90 percent of his time inside buildings, as his needs have evolved from chasing down antelope to tracking investment opportunities on the Internet.
Unfortunately, indoor air is far more polluted than outdoor air. According to the EPA, indoor air contains 2 to 5 times more contaminants—and on occasion, as much as 100 times more. As stated by WebMD , indoor air pollution is one of the most serious environmental threats to your health, yet no agency can regulate it, and few studies have been done about its effects on your health.
Here are some facts about what can be present in the air inside your buildings, the health dangers those contaminants pose to People in an organization, and what one can do about it.
Check out the Video on Indoor Air Quality Monitoring:
Poor Indoor Air Quality Could be Jeopardizing Your Health
Poor air quality has been linked to both short-term and long-term health problems. The EPA warns that the following conditions can be caused or exacerbated by poor indoor air quality:
- Asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems
- Eye and skin irritations,
- Sore throat, colds and flu
- Memory loss, dizziness, fatigue and depression
The long list of common pollutants and toxic particles is summarized in the table below.
|Molds||Water damage, high humidity regions, and humid areas of homes, like bathrooms and basements; most common molds are Aspergillus, Stachybotrys, and Penicillium; Aspergillus is a primary food for dust mites.|
|Bioaerosols (Biocontaminants such as airborne bacteria, viruses, etc.)||Humans, pets, moist surfaces, humidifiers, ventilation systems, drip pans, cooling coils in air handling units (can cause Legionnaires’ disease and “humidifier fever”)|
|Combustion By-products (PAH, CO, CO2, NOx)||Unvented kerosene and gas heaters, gas appliances, fireplaces, chimneys and furnaces, tobacco smoke, automobile exhaust from attached garages|
|Tobacco Smoke (including second-hand smoke)||Cigarettes, cigars, pipes can release mixtures of over 4,000 compounds|
|Formaldehyde||Pressed wood products (hardwood, plywood, fiberboard, etc.), urea-formaldehyde foam insulation, mattresses, clothing, nail polish, permanent press textiles, glue and adhesives, stoves, fireplaces, automobile exhaust|
|Arsenic||Pressure-treated wood products used for decks and playground equipment are often treated with arsenic-containing pesticides|
|Other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)||Paints, solvents, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleaners and disinfectants, copy machines/printers/faxes, carpets, moth repellents, air fresheners, dry cleaned clothes, hobby supplies|
|Phthalates (plasticizers)||Vinyl flooring, food packaging, shower curtains, wall coverings, adhesives, detergents, personal care products, toys, PVC pipe|
|Pesticides||Pest control poisons, garden and lawn chemicals|
|Asbestos||Deteriorating or damaged insulation, fireproofing, or acoustical materials|
|Heavy Metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, etc.)||Paints, cars, tobacco smoke, soil and dust; huge industrial pollutants|
|Radon (a radioactive gas that comes from uranium)||Building materials such as granite, well water, soil, outside air, smoke detectors, certain clocks and watches; radon is second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.|
Energy Efficient Buildings Often Have WORSE Air Quality
Inadequate ventilation is by far the largest cause of indoor air pollution, accounting for more than half of the problem, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Other lesser, but still significant, factors are bio aerosols, building products, contamination from outside air, and a variety of sources that have yet to be identified.
Air quality in a building is largely the result of an ongoing competition between the pollutants and the ventilation system. Other contributing factors include temperature, humidity, and microbial contamination.
Our efforts to make buildings more energy efficient and airtight have had an unexpected negative effect—increased air contamination resulting from decreased air exchange. Tightly caulked and sealed buildings without adequate ventilation systems trap pollutants inside the building.
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