Indoor Air Quality
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Indoor Air Quality is a term used to describe the levels of pollution found in the air in our buildings. Most people spend up to 90% of their time indoors and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies have determined that levels of indoor pollution may be two to five times greater than outdoor levels. In some extreme cases, levels of indoor pollutants were 100 times higher than outside levels.
What products or factors affect indoor air quality?
Many products affect indoor air quality. Some of the most common include:
- Cleaning products and processes used in the building
- Personal care products used by occupants
- Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
- Building furnishings and floor coverings — furniture, fabric finishes, adhesives, and carpet may emit formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Copiers and other office equipment —can emit ozone, VOCs, and other toxic chemicals
- Construction materials — paints, insulation, pressed wood, and plywood products can emit formaldehyde and other VOCs
- Pesticides used in or around the building
What are the health effects of poor indoor air quality?
Building inhabitants should not have to be concerned that the air in their homes and buildings could be making them sick. The facts tell us that we do need to be concerned and become involved in order to protect our health and that of our children.
- Sick building syndrome (which causes occupants to experience acute health and comfort effects) — up to 40% of the population experiences one or more symptoms weekly as a result of exposure to poor IAQ in buildings.
- Asthma — a recent survey shows that nearly 8% of the US population has asthma. 10 million children under the age of 18 were reported as having been diagnosed with asthma in 2007 and nearly 4 million reported experiencing an asthma episode or attack during the previous 12 months.
- Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)— an estimated 5% of the population suffers from severe sensitivity to low levels of chemicals, another 10% to 15% of the population is moderately sensitive.
- Rhinitis – Rhinitis has increased dramatically over the past 30 years and affects millions of children and adults. School air quality has been implicated in an increased incidence of rhinitis.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – 5 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.6 Recent research has found links between exposure to organphosphate pesticides and ADHD.
For more information on Indoor Air Quality see the Environmental Protection Agency’s website: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/