Indoor Air Quality Matters

When was the last time you changed the air filter in your home? Was it dirty? Disgusting I know. Do you ever wonder how your house…your home could be so infected with air pollutants? Embarrassing as it may be you are not alone.

After replacing my own filters, I found myself wondering; where in the world does all this dirt come from? “There are only three people living in my home and I just changed these things 45 days ago.” Sound familiar? Now sitting in your office, look up at the supply air grille above you. How clean do you suppose the air is…that cool, refreshing perk that you take for granted? Hmmmm?

According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, the average employed American works a 46-hour work week; 38% of the respondents in their study worked more than 50 hours per week. My math tells me that we spend an average of 9-10 hours a day at the office. Are you concerned about the indoor air quality in your building yet? Well, you should be so keep reading.

Side Note: “IAQ (indoor air quality) can impact the health, comfort and productivity of building occupants. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rand IAQ among the most serious environmental problems in the country. With most Americans spending up to 90% of their time indoors, IAQ has become a major concern.” Source: Kimberly Clark.

IAQ has been written about so many times that when researching this topic, Google went into search engine overload. From the EPA, to U.S. Senators, to Green Peace and inspiring authors such as myself, IAQ has always been a hot topic. This month’s edition of Mechanical Matters® is dedicated to IAQ and why proper air filtration program is important. I will discuss the effects of IAQ, and what precautions building owners and managers alike can do to keep their investment healthy. But first let’s learn a little about IAQ and the definition as presented in the world’s free encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) deals with the content of interior air that could affect health and comfort of building occupants. The IAQ may be compromised by microbial contaminants (mold, bacteria), chemicals (such as carbon monoxide, radon), allergens, or any mass or energy stressor that can induce health effects. Recent findings have demonstrated that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air (albeit with different pollutants) although this has not changed the common understanding of air pollution. In fact, indoor air is often a greater health hazard than the corresponding outdoor setting. Using ventilation to dilute contaminants, filtration, and source control are the primary methods for improving indoor air quality in most buildings.
Source: Wikipedia (Indoor Air Quality).

What potential pollutants exist throughout a building? Below is a list of harmful bacteria’s, gases, and other pollutants that can exist in a building’s air system, again provided by Wikipedia:

1. Radon

2. Molds and other Allergen

3. Carbon Monoxide

4. Legionella, Legionellosis or Legionnaire’s Disease

5. Asbestos Fibers

6. Pollen

7. Dust

8. Spores

9. Bacteria

10. Viruses

Now, are you a little concerned? Before you get too excited please know that these repulsive contaminants can be defeated with proper air filtration and ventilation. Remember how dirty the air filter in your home was the last time you replaced it? It’s that disgusting because it’s doing its job. Air filtration is one of the most important weapons in our fight against poor IAQ, followed closely by ventilation and humidity control. While Asbestos and Radon are still a threat to older buildings, stricter building codes enforced by the both the U.S. Federal Government and State legislation have prevented their uses in new buildings. However, Molds, Allergens, Bacteria, Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide can creep in no matter how old or new your building is. Top 10 refrigerant recovery machines

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