In recent years, there has been a growing concern regarding indoor air quality, which has worsened over the last two decades. Scientific evidence suggests indoor environments can contain a higher concentration of contaminants than outdoor settings, including industrial areas. Additionally, studies have shown that individuals spend a significant portion of their time indoors, approximately 90%.
The global pandemic has further highlighted the importance of maintaining good air quality in indoor spaces, including homes, workplaces, and businesses. Fortunately, by prioritizing indoor air quality (IAQ), it is possible to reduce air pollution and improve indoor air quality.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor air quality can be adversely affected by a constant release of particles and gases from various apparent and inconspicuous sources. Emissions from combustion sources, in particular, can significantly increase pollutant levels, leading to an unhealthy and hazardous environment.
Some of the sources of indoor pollution include the following:
- Oil, kerosene, coal, and gas
- Emissions from materials such as carpets, furnishings, and wood
- Tobacco products
- Heating, cooling, ventilation, and humidification equipment
- Products used for hobbies, cleaning, personal grooming
- Pet dander and dust mites
- Outdoor contaminants like pollen and radon
Sick building syndrome is a condition that can be difficult to diagnose, as its symptoms resemble those of other common illnesses.
Breathing in an unhealthy amount of airborne particulate matter can lead to health issues such as dizziness, fatigue, sinus problems, headaches, and more. Exposure to highly toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide, can be dangerous and even fatal.
Why is Your Indoor Air Quality Worse than Before?
Indoor air quality is often compromised by factors we may not even realize. With closer examination, it becomes clear that some of the culprits are right in front of us.
1. Poor or Inadequate Ventilation
Inadequate ventilation can lead to a buildup of contaminants, which is a significant concern in workplaces, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. This issue is also relevant to homes and commercial properties.
To conserve energy, most HVAC systems recirculate air inside. While heavy insulation and caulking can prevent air from going outside, they can also contribute to a higher concentration of air pollutants.
A neglected HVAC system can significantly contribute to indoor air pollution. A clogged and worn-out air filter may fail to trap airborne particles, making it harder for the heating, cooling, ventilation, and humidification systems to circulate air and filter out pollutants. This situation can create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria to grow and be dispersed indoors.
Consistent and thorough inspections and maintenance of HVAC systems are essential for ensuring proper ventilation and that the air indoors is healthy and safe to breathe.
2. Combustion Sources
Emissions from various combustion sources such as furnaces, space heaters, lamps, stoves, fireplaces, and even scented candles can adversely affect indoor air quality. Without proper ventilation, these sources can release harmful compounds like nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and respirable particulates. Tobacco smoke also significantly contributes to indoor air pollution, releasing harmful compounds like formaldehyde, acrolein, and carbon monoxide.
These emissions can release thousands of potent irritants into the indoor air, leading to both short-term and long-term health consequences.
3. Biological Contaminants in Indoor Air
Indoor air can harbor a range of biological contaminants that pose a threat to human health. These include mold, bacteria, pollen, viruses, and mites. The following factors can contribute to the release of bioaerosols:
- Poor maintenance of HVAC systems, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers
- Pets and indoor plants
- Moisture in building materials, such as walls and carpets
Exposure to these bioaerosols can cause allergic reactions and other health problems. Poorly maintained equipment can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, while “humidifier fever,” a type of sick building syndrome, can result from exposure to contaminated humidifiers.
Enhance Your Indoor Air Quality
To avoid worsening indoor air quality, addressing the three factors we’ve discussed is important. By installing a reliable HVAC system and partnering with a reputable service provider, you can improve your IAQ. To learn more about indoor air quality and how we can assist you in achieving better indoor air quality, get in touch with us today.