Cleaning Away Air Pollution
Cleaner, Better Air in Your Home by Trane:
There are three major sources of contaminants affecting indoor air quality:
1) Indoor Sources
- Personal activities (smoking, pets, and personal hygiene)
- Housekeeping (deodorizers, cleaning materials, or dust)
- Maintenance activities (remodeling, new furniture/carpet, or pest control)
- Emissions from office equipment (photocopier machines, VDTs)
- Office supplies (toners, carbonless paper products)
- Liquid spills or leaks
- Room occupant load
- Thermal and/or humidity comfort
2) Outdoor Sources
- Contaminated outdoor air (vehicle exhaust, pollen, or industrial pollutants)
- Nearby source emissions (garbage dumpsters, loading docks, or exhaust from other “Sick Buildings”)
- Soil gas (radon, underground storage tanks, or pesticides)
- Microbial from standing water (molds or mildew)
WHY IS INDOOR AIR QUALITY A HOT TOPIC?
Indoor Air Quality has become the pollution-related health issue of our times. In recent years, the EPA has ranked poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) among the top five health risks caused by pollution.
Pollutants enter our bodies by ingestion (eating or drinking), by absorption through our skin, or by inhalation (breathing). Of course, of the three, only breathing is something we do continually. Studies indicate that we spend 90% of our time in an indoor environment, so, the quality of the indoor air we breathe is very critical to our health and well-being. Employers are finding that providing good IAQ promotes increased productivity and reduces lost time due to illness.
As the public becomes more aware of the health effects of poor indoor air quality, the demand for government regulation will increase. OSHA has proposed regulations aimed at promoting good indoor air quality for the workplace already. Municipalities around the U.S. have begun enacting ordinances requiring building owners and operators to control tobacco smoke in their restaurants, bars, and places where many people are in close proximity to one another. Until more definitive legislation regarding IAQ is enacted, the primary incentive to provide good quality indoor air is the possibility of litigation. The number of personal injury liability lawsuits due to poor quality indoor air is on the rise. Settlements and awards have reached the $500,000 mark per plaintiff. The increasing risk of this kind of litigation should be incentive for potential defendants to ensure good IAQ in all buildings for which they are responsible.
Another benefit of providing clean indoor air is that the building interior and furnishings will be cleaner, requiring less housekeeping and maintenance. In addition, a clean HVAC system operates more efficiently and requires less maintenance, reducing operational costs. All in all, providing good IAQ will improve the bottom line.