Economizer is committed to bringing you TOTAL INDOOR COMFORT no matter the QUALITY of AIR outside.
Indoor Air Pollution and Health
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) describes the air quality around and within structures and buildings, specifically as it relates to both the health, wellbeing, and comfort of building residents. Your risk of indoor health concerns can be reduced when understanding common indoors pollutants and controlling these pollutants.
Negative effects from indoor air pollutants could be experienced immediately, soon after exposure or, possibly even years later.
Some negative health concerns could show up soon after a single exposure or repeated exposures to a pollutant. These include irritation of the throat, nose, and eyes, and can include symptoms like dizziness, headaches, and lethargy. Such instant effects are usually treatable and fairly short-term. In easily identified instances the treatment is usually to simply eliminating the person’s exposure to the source of the pollution. With some indoor air pollutants, symptoms of some illnesses such as asthma could show up, be exacerbated, or worsen soon after exposure.
The probability of instantaneous reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several aspects including preexisting medical conditions and age. Individual sensitivity varies immensely from person to person. Sensitivity to biological or chemical pollutants could be increased after a high level or repeated exposures.
The situation is further compounded by the fact that some immediate effects are similar to those of viral diseases and colds, so it is often difficult to determine if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air pollution.
For all of these reasons, it becomes important to pay attention to the time and place the symptoms occur. For example, if the symptoms go away, or fade when a person is away from the vicinity, an effort should be made to identify indoor air sources that could be possible triggers. Some effects may be made worse from the HVAC systems and heating systems already installed or from an inadequate supply of outdoor air coming indoors.
Long-term effects could include some respiratory diseases, cancer, and heart disease, and could be severely debilitating or fatal and may only show up years after exposure has occurred or only after long or constant periods of exposure. Taking this into account makes it a very sensible step to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home, even if symptoms are not obvious.
While pollutants frequently found in indoor air can have many harmful consequences, there is substantial uncertainty about what concentrations or amount of time of exposure are involved to produce specific health problems. Additional research is needed to better recognize which health effects happen after exposure over a long period of time to the average pollutant concentrations found in homes, and which happen from the higher concentrations that occur for shorter periods of time.
Primary Causes of Indoor Air Problems
Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems.
Inadequate Ventilation. If too little outdoor air enters indoors, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Some buildings may need special mechanical means of ventilation.
High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.
- Fuel-burning combustion appliances
- Tobacco products
- Building materials and furnishings as diverse as:
- Deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation
- Newly installed flooring, upholstery, or carpet
- Cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
- Products and chemicals for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
- Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
- Excess moisture
- Outdoor sources such as:
- Outdoor air pollution.
The relative significance of any single source depends on how much of a given pollutant it emits and how harmful those emissions are. Considerations such as how old the source is and whether it is properly maintained are important. For example, an improperly adjusted gas stove can emit substantially more carbon monoxide than one that is properly adjusted.
Air pollutants and sources of air pollutants:
- Biological Pollutants
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products
- Lead (Pb)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Radon (Rn)
- Indoor Particulate Matter
- Secondhand Smoke/ Environmental Tobacco Smoke
- Stoves and Heaters
- Fireplaces and Chimneys
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)