11 Surprising Facts about Indoor Air Quality

Protecting the world from infectious disease

Indoor air pollution can be a serious health threat. But are you aware of these surprising facts about indoor air pollution? 

Surprising Facts about Indoor Air Quality

measuring indoor air quality

People spend most of their time indoors.

You spend 90% of your life indoors – that’s three-quarters of your waking hours, every day of the year. With so much time spent indoors, we must ensure our indoor air quality is as safe as possible.

Indoor air quality is often worse than its outdoor counterpart.

Indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality because of a lack of ventilation and pollutants building up over time. Outdoor air can also be polluted and drawn into a building by its HVAC system. City dwellers may often find their indoor spaces even more polluted than those in rural areas due to their proximity to major roadways and industrial areas.

The EPA calls indoor air pollution one of the top five environmental health risks.

The EPA calls indoor air pollution one of the top five environmental health risks. It can cause asthma and other respiratory illnesses and reduce productivity at work and school. 

Some causes of indoor air pollution are apparent.

Common sources of indoor air pollution in commercial buildings include:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Mold in HVAC systems
  • Indoor air infiltration
  • Poor ventilation design and operation
  • Poorly maintained HVAC systems that circulate contaminated outdoor air into the building interior

Other indoor air pollutants are less noticeable.

Other indoor air pollutants are less noticeable. The culprits include furniture, carpets, cleaners, and even pet dander. These pollutants can come from building materials or everyday cleaning products and can be emitted in gaseous form. Less noticiable indoor air pollutants include:

  • Formaldehyde (a chemical found in many building products)
  • Benzene (a byproduct of gasoline combustion)
  • Trichloroethylene (used to degrease metal parts)
  • Radon gas (an odorless radioactive gas released through cracks in the foundation or flooring of your building)

Carpets can contribute to indoor air pollution.

If you’ve ever felt that your office smelled like a musty basement, it might be because of the carpeting. Carpets can trap dust, pollen, and pet dander and retain moisture, and these factors create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria growth.

Pesticides and cleaning products can have a significant effect on indoor air quality.

Pesticides and cleaning products can have a significant effect on indoor air quality. And while they’re not the only offenders, they are among the most common. Many pesticides and cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals evaporate quickly into the air when sprayed or applied to surfaces. VOCs can cause health problems when inhaled in large amounts over long periods. 

Even materials used in construction can affect air quality years later.

The materials used in a building’s construction can also release VOCs that become trapped in the structure’s interior surfaces. These include carpets, paint and adhesives, carpet padding, and flooring finishes. For example:

  • Paints and stains emit VOCs that can contribute to poor indoor air quality. Water-based paints generally have fewer VOCs than oil-based products because they don’t contain solvents or petroleum distillates. However, these paints still use chemicals with strong odors, such as methylene chloride — which is toxic when breathed in — and ammonia and formaldehyde (which are also highly toxic).

  • Furniture adhesives also contain VOCs; some furniture may even include chemical flame retardants added during manufacturing to meet safety standards set by governments around the world.

Radon is a carcinogen that often goes undetected in buildings.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into buildings through cracks in the foundation, floor, or walls, and it comes from the soil and rock below your foundation. Breathing it in can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.

Children, older adults, and those with preexisting conditions (e.g., asthma, allergies) are especially at risk for indoor air pollution-induced health problems.

Air quality is an essential consideration for any business. If you’ve ever gone to a doctor’s office, been in school, or spent a long time at work, you might have noticed many people – especially children, the elderly, or those with preexisting conditions – around. And they’re all breathing the same air – putting them at an even higher risk for indoor air pollution-induced health issues. 

Poor IAQ increases the risk of several long-term health issues, including lung cancer and heart disease.

Exposure to poor indoor air quality can increase the risk of several long-term health issues, including lung cancer and heart disease. It is often the cause and aggravating factor in many respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor air pollution is responsible for the deaths of 3.8 million people annually.

Don't Wait Until It's Too Late! Reduce Indoor Air Pollution Now!

Whether you’re a commercial business, school, or hospital, it’s essential to make sure the air quality in your building is healthy for all occupants. Your employees, customers, and other visitors want to feel comfortable and well-cared for while they’re there—and that means making sure the air quality is safe for everyone. 

 

When it comes to making sure that your building is healthy for all occupants—including your employees—it’s not enough to just have good ventilation. You need to monitor the air quality and ensure it’s healthy for everyone in the building, including your employees.

 

Safe Air Systems Technology is dedicated to helping commercial businesses improve the air quality of their buildings with SAST iAQ Pro so that all occupants can breathe easier and be healthier. We provide continuous indoor air quality monitoring through world-class technology, allowing you to ensure that the air in your building is always safe.

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