Indoor Air Quality
What Should You Know?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air is
anywhere from 2 to 10 times more hazardous than outdoor air. In fact, the
EPA warns that the indoor air quality is the United States' number one
environmental health problem. As a result of the toxic air we breathe,
EPA studies have shown that billions of dollars are spent annually for
medication to help Americans breathe or cure their respiratory illnesses.
given at the First Annual Air Quality convention sponsored by EPA, April
1992, Tampa, Florida includes these facts:
million Americans have asthma.
million have hay fever and other allergies.
of all employees have a major illness related to indoor air pollution
such as allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, etc.
estimates an 18% annual production loss to American business due
to poor indoor air quality.
of all buildings pose a serious health hazard due to indoor air pollution,
according to the World Health Organization.
says high levels of formaldehyde cause cancer .
now recognize that pollutants, even at acceptable concentration,
combined together in an indoor environment have a synergistic negative
Every year at least 6,000 new chemical compounds
are developed. Many are used indoors every day, at home and at work.
Add to these pollutants the mold, mildew, bacteria, viruses, tobacco
smoke, grease, pollen, dirt, asbestos, lead and numerous other contaminants
that can affect our breathing and our health. Then allow them to circulate
in today's nearly airtight indoor environment. No wonder our indoor air
is, on average, two to ten times as polluted as the worst outdoor air.
and bacteria that thrive in the ducts, coils, and recesses of building
ventilation systems have been proven to cause ailments ranging from influenza
to tuberculosis. Some HVAC systems have been found to contain up to 27
species of fungi.
facts about the hazardous nature of our air include:
- Asthma cases have increased by more than 100% since 1976.
- About 1 in 9 children now have asthma.
- Death rates due to asthma have tripled, and quintupled in children
ages 5 to 9, since 1976.
- Hospitalization rates and doctor visits are still continuing to increase
- According to the American College of Allergies, 50% of all illness
is aggravated or caused by polluted indoor air.
- Today's homes and buildings are built air-tight, and contain a long
list of pollution sources.
As a result, nature's air-cleansing agents such as ozone and negative
ions are kept out, while contaminants are kept in.
- A recent study found that the allergen level in super-insulated homes
is 200% higher than it is in ordinary homes.
- According to Scientific America, a baby crawling on the floor inhales
the equivalent of 4 cigarettes a day, as a result of the out gassing
of carpets, molds, mildews, fungi, dust mites, etc.
- Most people spend well over 90% of their time indoors. In which case,
indoor air is going to impact our health far more than outdoor air.
- The EPA informs us that 6 out of 10 homes and buildings are
"sick", meaning they are hazardous to your health to occupy
as a result of airborne pollutants.
you be concerned about Indoor Air Quality?
are 5 reasons why indoor quality could be making your sick:
is now widely recognized that most people spend more than 90% of their
time indoors. Because most of us spend so much time inside, indoor
pollution concentrations, even if they are uniformly lower than outdoor
levels, make a significant contribution to our average exposure over
a day, week, month, or year.
indoor environments contain a complex array of potential sources
of air pollution, including synthetic building materials, consumer
products, and dust mites. Airborne emissions also occur because of
the people, pets, and plants that inhabit these spaces. Efforts to
lower energy costs by reducing ventilation rates have increased the
likelihood that pollutants generated indoors will accumulate.
studies inside buildings and vehicles have consistently found that
concentrations of many air pollutants tend to be higher indoors
than out. Indoor air has been shown to be a complex mixture of
chemical, biological, and physical agents.
about inadequate indoor air quality and associated discomfort
and illness are a burgeoning problem in our society. Reports
of illness outbreaks among building occupants, particularly office
workers, with no secondary spread of illness to others outside
the building with whom affected individuals come into contact
have become commonplace. EPA classifies these reports into two
general categories: building related illnesses and sick-building
to many indoor air pollutants are known or suspected to occur
at levels sufficient to cause illness or injury. Scientific
evidence suggests that respiratory disease, allergy, mucous
membrane irritation, nervous system effects, cardiovascular
effects, reproductive effects, and lung cancer may be linked
to exposures to indoor air pollutants.
consistently rank indoor air pollution at or near the top of environmental
health risks in the United States.
Is the Solution?
are now discovering that the solution to the problems of many of these
people is not in medicine but in reducing the pollutants in the air they
breathe. There are three ways to improve
indoor air quality: Dilution, Removal and Neutralization
Dilution. Bringing in outside air is the conventional solution. It
is, however, often inefficient, can be costly, and not usually appropriate
for odor control. If the outside air is polluted, it can make your
indoor air quality worse.
Removal. Airborne particulates filters (for instance, HEPA and
activated carbon filters) physically remove contaminants from the
Neutralization. The most effective way to neutralize air pollution
is using a combination of technologies that include the ultraviolet (UV) lights, hydroxyl radicals, Negative Ions and Ozone, the combination of which promotes the destruction
of bacteria, viruses, bacteria, fungi and other pollutants, including
mold spores, as well as sanitizing surfaces and the air, controlling
odors and reducing static electricity.
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