For the longest time, any reference to pollution has always been synonymous with outdoor pollution. A lot of research and resources go to studying outdoor pollution. Monitoring and tracking of outdoor pollution has also helped mitigate the risk associated with numerous health problems while also raising awareness.
However, recent research now shows that while much of the focus has been on outdoor pollution, it is indoor pollution that the world should be more worried about as most people spend 90% of their lives indoors. According to the EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency), indoor air pollution is two to five times higher than outdoor levels, yet the EPA has no guidelines or recommendations for monitoring or measuring indoor air quality.
This poses a great risk to the increasing number of people who spend most of their lives indoors at work, home, or school. But despite the increasing body of research identifying the risk of indoor pollution, monitoring and tracking are still not common among building landlords, business operators, school administrators, and homeowners.
This post examines possible reasons most people do not monitor or track indoor air pollution despite the serious health risk it poses. It also suggests what businesses, schools, and homeowners can do to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) and overall healthy building conditions.
Deceptive Safety and Comfort of the Indoors
The deteriorating levels of indoor air quality (IAQ) correspond with the emergence of this indoor generation. This feeling of safety and comfort is, in most cases, unfounded going by recent research.
Every time you spend time indoors, you are exposed to myriad pollutants, some of which can be fatal. Building occupants are at risk of exposure to various harmful pollutants. This calls for effective monitoring and tracking and shared public access to indoor air quality metrics. In a post Covid-19 economy, consumers, employees, and students will demand greater transparency and remote public access to indoor air quality and other healthy building metrics for any location before they enter. If you are asking for someone’s valuable time or money indoors, they deserve to “know before they go.”
Overlooked Risks of Indoor Air Pollution
According to a recent study, the greatest exposure to air pollution today occurs indoors. However, most of the focus when talking about pollution is on the more obvious outdoor causes. Indoor pollutants range from:
· Biological Pollutants
· Carbon Monoxide (CO)
· Carbon Dioxide
· Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products (also New Paint, Carpet, or Furniture)
· Lead (Pb)
· Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
· Radon (Rn)
· Indoor Particulate Matter (PM 2.5)
· Secondhand Smoke/ Environmental Tobacco Smoke
· Stoves, Heaters, Fireplaces and Chimneys
· Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
· Cleaning Agents
Continued exposure to these pollutants can lead to multiple health problems such as skin, eye and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, coughing, sneezing, allergies, fatigue, to mention a few. Long terms issues such as cancer and lung damage can also develop over time.
Sadly, the risks of indoor air pollution do not receive much attention. This means building owners are under no pressure to invest in inexpensive tools to monitor and track indoor air quality (IAQ) and improve healthy building conditions. By appreciating the big threat posed by indoor pollution, building owners can start investing in more in cutting-edge tools to track and share access to indoor air quality metrics and take the necessary steps to remedy, such as improved ventilation.
Business managers for instance need to understand the impact of indoor air pollution on the health and productivity of their employees. At home, poor indoor air leads to increased medical costs, fatigue, headaches, and sickness, irritability.
Lack of Information on IAQ Monitoring and Tracking
With so much focus on outdoor air pollution, the indoor air quality (IAQ) industry has struggled to gain traction. This is despite an increase in research supporting the need for healthier buildings.
For most building owners or managers, measuring indoor air pollution might not sound like a necessity in property maintenance or prevention. Worse still, property owners are not aware of the IAQ tracking metrics such as Ventilation Standards, Particle measurement (PM), Exposure limits, carbon dioxide, radon, and VOC concentration.
There is also a lack of information about available monitoring and tracking tools. However, new technology for monitoring indoor air quality and healthy environment metrics has emerged and it promises to change this worrying situation. For instance, low-cost IoT-powered sensors set in multiple locations inside a building can provide invaluable data to owners and occupants about the state of indoor air quality.
These monitoring tools provide real-time data on metrics such as VOC concentration, humidity and temperature, radon levels, and other key indoor air quality factors. With this data, you can take the necessary steps to improve the health and productivity of your indoor spaces.
Whether you are a school administrator, homeowner, or office manager, you have to appreciate the lurking danger inside your building. Indoor air pollution is a serious, albeit overlooked threat as most attention goes to outdoor pollution. With more information about indoor air quality, it is easier to build a plan to reduce indoor air pollution through monitoring and tracking.