The Importance of Good Indoor Air Quality

Oxygen is vital for life. Good air quality is indispensable for living a long and healthy life. Indoor air quality refers to the quality of air inside buildings and structures. More specifically, it affects the health and comfort of the occupants inside that building. Currently, indoor air is classed as one of the top five environmental health risks to public health.

The Importance of Good Indoor Air Quality

Getting to know about indoor air pollutants and how to control them can help reduce your health concerns. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of good indoor air quality.

What Are Some Common Indoor Air Pollutants?

Some of the most common indoor air pollutants that threaten our health are dust mites, radon, lead, pet dander, carbon monoxide, second-hand smoke and mold. Increased precipitation and humidity due to climate change can exacerbate the growth of mold, dust mites, and other bio-contaminants. To make sure your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are up to date and to avoid any health issues related to low indoor air quality.

What Are the Effects of Low Indoor Air Quality?

Low indoor air quality can cause immediate effects, such as dizziness and fatigue, as well as irritation of the nose, throat and eyes. It can also aggravate asthma. There’s also the risk of chronic problems due to repeat exposure to indoor air contaminants. These could include respiratory disease, heart disease and even cancer.

Who’s at the Greatest Risk?

Anyone can be at risk from air pollution, as people are spending up to 90% of their time indoors. Pre-existing health conditions can make you more susceptible to the effects of air pollution, as well as those who are very young, the elderly, or those with existing respiratory or cardiac problems. The type of building you spend your time in will affect the likelihood of you developing issues due to poor indoor air quality. Children are at higher risk in school buildings and the lack of funding being diverted to solving indoor air quality problems.

The Importance of Good Indoor Air Quality - breathing deeply

Children’s bodies are still developing and are unable to deal with toxins as easily as adult bodies can. As such, children are more sensitive to exposure, yet we find them more exposed. They eat and drink more relative to their size than adults do, play closer to the ground, and exhibit more hand-to-mouth behavior. They’re also less able to identify potential hazards than adults.

How Outdoor Air Enters a Building

Outdoor air enters a building via natural ventilation, infiltration, and through mechanical ventilation systems. In the process known as infiltration, outdoor air flows through joints, cracks, and openings in floors, walls and ceilings, as well as around doors and windows. Air movement associated with ventilation and infiltration has to do with the difference in temperatures between indoor and outdoor air, as well as wind flow. There is also mechanical ventilation that exchanges air between the inside and outside of buildings.

The Bottom Line

Indoor air quality is more important than ever, with more people spending almost all of their time indoors. Pollutants have grown alongside modern living, with just about everyone being at risk. Those most at risk, the very young and the elderly, are the ones most likely to spend even more time indoors. Immediate effects of low indoor air quality can be irritation of the nose, throat, eyes and skin, with more serious, chronic illnesses including respiratory and cardiac diseases, and cancer.

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