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.

Information given at the First Annual Air Quality convention sponsored by EPA, April 1992, Tampa, Florida includes these facts:

  • Eleven million Americans have asthma.
  • Twenty-eight million have hay fever and other allergies.
  • 20% of all employees have a major illness related to indoor air pollution such as allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, etc.
  • EPA estimates an 18% annual production loss to American business due to poor indoor air quality.
  • 40% of all buildings pose a serious health hazard due to indoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organization.
  • EPA says high levels of formaldehyde cause cancer .
  • Scientists now recognize that pollutants, even at acceptable concentration, combined together in an indoor environment have a synergistic negative effect.

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.

Viruses 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.

Other 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 dramatically.
  • 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.

Should you be concerned about Indoor Air Quality?

Here are 5 reasons why indoor quality could be making your sick:

  1. It 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.
  2. Modern 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.
  3. Monitoring 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.
  4. Complaints 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 syndrome.
  5. Exposures 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.

Scientists consistently rank indoor air pollution at or near the top of environmental health risks in the United States.

What Is the Solution?

Physicians 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 air.

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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