According to the EPA, most Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. This could be at home, school, or at work. Most people think it’s safer to stay indoors away from what is a more polluted outdoor environment.
However, research reveals that indoor air quality (IAQ) is more polluted than outdoor air. Common indoor air pollutants include asbestos, formaldehyde, radon, hydrocarbons, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide. These are dangerous materials which can cause debilitating health issues for your building’s occupants.
Whether you are a building owner, manager, or occupant, it is crucial to monitor indoor air quality levels. By understanding the state of pollution in your indoor space, it becomes easier to take remediation steps.
This post explores some causes of indoor air pollution and suggests ways to measure your building’s indoor air quality.
Main Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
Before you start addressing indoor air quality at home or in any other building, you have to start by identifying the main causes of indoor pollution. Here are some of these major sources of pollutants:
· Pests and pest control products
· Indoor cooking
· Off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by new carpets, paint, or furniture
· Cleaning products
· Indoor tobacco smoking
· Pet Dander
· Construction materials during renovations
· Dust mites on carpets, pillows, furniture, etc.
· HVAC systems (poor ventilation, old filters, heating systems)
· Outdoor pollutants from chemical plants, wildfires, vehicle exhaust, or generators
Other factors that can impact the indoor air quality include outdoor climate, air exchange rate, occupant behavior, and weather conditions.
Risks Associated with Indoor Pollution
Indoor air pollution can result in myriad health complications. These range from respiratory problems, eye and skin problems to headaches among other long-term problems.
The sick-building syndrome symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, eye, nose, throat irritation, dry cough, and dry or itching skin are also attributed to indoor pollutants.
In the workplace, indoor pollution can lead to low employee productivity and lost work hours, affecting profitability. At home, poor IAQ results in increased illnesses leading to higher medical bills.
Schools also grapple with higher absenteeism levels, poor concentration, poor grades, and increasing community mistrust due to lack of transparency and monitoring of the IAQ and overall healthy indoor environment at the local schools.
How to determine the state of Indoor Pollution
If you have the ability, you have the responsibility to monitor the indoor air quality and overall healthy environment where people live, work, learn, and breathe. Homeowners, landlords, schools, and office managers can use multiple approaches to determine the level of indoor pollution inside their buildings.
· In the Workplace
If you’re a business manager, increased health costs, lost work hours, and poor productivity should hint at a polluted indoors. Your employees will complain of fatigue and you will have to address low motivation issues among the staff.
· At School
For school educators and operators, any sharp increase in illnesses in both students and teachers missed school days, poor test scores, and fatigue or lack of concentration, could point to an increase in pollutants in your school. When not addressed, these issues could lead to mistrust by the community, a withdrawal of students from your institution, and investigations by local health authorities which could levy heavy fines or recommend closure to due to lack of compliance.
· At Home
If your family’s health bill keeps rising due to respiratory problems, you most probably have a case of poor indoor air.
IAQ Measuring, Monitoring and Tracking
An increase in illnesses or lower productivity at work is not enough to conclusively know the state of indoor pollution. You need more comprehensive data and this is only possible through cutting-edge indoor air quality (IAQ) testing, monitoring, and tracking.
Using the latest technology to monitor your building’s indoor health status is a more practical approach. You receive invaluable data on key metrics such as ventilation, Relative Humidity (RH), VOCs and carbon dioxide concentration, carbon monoxide, and radon gas levels. In addition, you can track key mold and virus environment indicators as well as light, sound, and electromagnetic frequency (EMF) exposure.
With this data, you can create a plan for improving your indoor air quality. Indoor pollution can have devastating effects at work, school, or home but with real-time tracking, you can create a safe, secure, environment and have peace of mind knowing the overall health status of your building.
A healthy building, be it a home, school, or office building, guarantees the occupants’ wellbeing. Using the latest IAQ monitoring tools helps you to take the necessary measures to make your building safer.