Fact or fiction? Examining 10 IAQ myths
Despite the fact that poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can affect the health of the occupants in any kind of enclosed space, there seem to be a lot of misconceptions about it.
With individuals spending a significant amount of time in indoor work environments and public commercial buildings, the health implications associated with exposure to pollutants found in indoor air has increased.
It is crucial to gain a competitive advantage with knowledge and distinguish myths from facts.
Energy efficiency firm Senseware recently examined some of the IAQ myths:
1.You’re better off with indoor air compared to outdoors.
The truth is that the air you’re breathing indoors is sometimes most likely to be more polluted than the air outdoors.
If you take a look around your building, you might notice dust mites, refrigerator, fresheners, fragrances, detergents, cleaning agents and electronics. These are a few of examples that cause of poor IAQ in commercial buildings.
Add to it the fact that most building structures are enclosed; hence more often they can prevent the inflow of fresh air, thus making for a disturbing combination. This can be improved by air circulation that removes indoor air contaminants and prevents the buildup of pollutants.
2. Whole-facility HVAC systems result in good IAQ.
Most people in the cities spend more than 80 percent of their time indoors. HVAC is the most crucial system that helps with maintaining the indoor temperature, ventilation, heating and cooling. Whole-facility HVAC systems are only very effective in handling particles and not entirely harmful gases or VOC because of the kind of filters they possess. The air we breathe inside a facility is filtered through the HVAC system, which also brings air in from outside.
If you do not have a well-performing and regularly maintained HVAC system, the pollutants that come in from the outside remain trapped in the building. Also, if the HVAC is not regularly maintained, it can result in increasing moisture inside, which in turn promotes the growth of mold.
3. IAQ has no health implications.
Poor IAQ, aside from potentially contributing to asthma, can result in headaches, difficulty in breathing, nausea, itchy eyes, congested sinus and fatigue.
Most incriminating pollutants can be easily identified. They give off odor; some sting the eyes while others leave telltale signs. With this knowledge, it can be easy for facility managers and building engineers to take mitigating steps to correct and improve the quality of the air in the building.
4. New buildings or fresh paint equals better IAQ.
That is not the case. Paint fumes are high on volatile organic compound (VOC) and so are new commercial buildings. VOC lowers the quality of indoor air and is unhealthy.
Additionally, materials such as formaldehydes used to treat wood, new carpet and paint are reasons why the new commercial property may not make for good IAQ.
Most importantly, new building designs result in more airtight buildings than it was in the last century. The result is impeded airflow and poor IAQ.
5. Humidifying dry air indoors is always good.
The relative humidity, especially in winters, goes down. This necessitates the need for humidifiers. But, the real cause of the low levels of humidity would be leakage of indoor air to the outside, which is the root cause that needs to be addressed.
Raising the humidity (moisture content) of the air in any given enclosed space above 40 percent invites trouble. That’s because, mold, fungi, bacteria and other microbes tend to thrive with increased humidity.
A good way of preventing this issue is by sealing any air vents, which causes the loss of humidity.
6. Radon, not a problem.
Radon is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas. Radon is released when uranium breaks down in the ground. It is a radioactive gas that is notorious for being a high cause of lung cancer. In enclosed buildings during the winter, it is not uncommon for radon to build up.
Radon gas is a major IAQ and safety concern, which is why checking radon levels in public buildings should be part of an IAQ inspection.
7. Improving IAQ requires a lot of investment.
Bad IAQ can be improved upon. With HVAC advances, improving indoor air quality is not as difficult as some make it out to be. By eliminating pollutants and contaminants from indoor air, HVAC systems can help improve the IAQ in commercial and public spaces.
Professional installation and regular maintenance yearly are crucial for them to be effective. By using low-cost devices such as sensors to detect low humidity and IAQ levels, good quality of air can be easily maintained.
8. It is impossible to monitor IAQ like a pro.
All that is required these days to monitor a building’s air quality is a smart air-monitoring device that can be easily purchased and installed.
The options available in the market range from simple alert systems that monitor a single safety hazard to more advanced devices that are capable of monitoring and alerting you to a number of potential safety risks.
9. Ozone is a safe option.
Ozone gas generators are widely used in homes and public buildings in an attempt to keep chemicals, odor and contaminants at bay from indoor air.
Unfortunately, recent research suggests that ozone gases are detrimental to health. Potential health problems include chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, breathing difficulty and throat irritation.
10. Air fresheners are good for IAQ.
Though the whiff of these items when used can be pleasing to the senses, they do little or no good for the quality of indoor air. The reason is that they contain chemicals that are harmful as with most commercial air fresheners.
Prolonged use of these items will result in a cumulative build-up of detrimental substances that will, in turn, lead to poor IAQ within the property.
Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Environmental Firms, Great Commercial Buildings, Healthy & Comfortable Buildings, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Interiors, Office Buildings, Paint - Low & No VOC, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design, Ventilation