Indoor Air Quality isn’t something we think about unless it’s bad. And sometimes when it’s bad, we don’t realize it, but we FEEL it. How do we feel it? We feel it in our foggy head. We feel it in our tight chests. We feel it in our sniffling noses. We chock it up to just allergies, but the fact is, those allergies might be remedied by paying closer attention to your indoor air quality or IAQ. Here are five facts about IAQ that you may not have known.
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1. Children’s Allergies are Increasing
In the past decade, the growth of kids with asthma and allergies has been huge. Of school nurses surveyed, 40% worked with children who had IAQ-related health issues. At this point, 1 in 10 kids have asthma and miss approximately 4 days of school each year due to the condition. Children with allergies are put on medications that make their ability to concentrate suffer. HVAC maintenance that impacted IAQ was studied in a school. A Texas school implemented an IAQ management plan and found that test scores increased 17.3% and the average attendance increased to 97%.
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2. Indoor Pollutants are Worse than Outdoor Pollutants
Indoor air contamination could get up to 25 times higher than outdoor air. In fact, IAQ is ranked within the top 5 environmental risks affecting public health. A study was done to see what financial impact would happen when an indoor air quality management program was implemented in an office building. The study found that the company gained $400-500,000 in productivity annually by keeping their air quality a priority.
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3. Indoor Air Quality in Schools is Worse than Most Buildings
Schools are crowded. They have about 4 times as many occupants as office buildings. Children also breathe more rapidly than adults. That is why kids and people who work in schools get sick so often. Allergens and germs spread quickly. The EPA has identified air quality in schools as a point of concern.
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4. IAQ Doesn’t Just Affect Your Lungs
Air pollutants that can be filtered out of the air through proper HVAC are VOCs, phthalates, PBDEs, mold, pollen, pet dander, radon, and more. They’re fine particles that can be inhaled and pass through the blood stream. They can cause symptoms such as dry eye, headaches, nasal congestion, fatigue, or nausea. Asthma, lung infection, and lung cancer have been linked to poor IAQ.
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5. Small Things People Use Daily Decrease IAQ
Cleaning products, cleansers, paint, and solvents have all been linked to poor indoor air quality. These chemicals can cause dizziness, allergic reactions, skin irritation, cancer, and nausea.
What can you do to control your IAQ? Use natural ventilation when you can. Maintain your HVAC system by commissioning it. Replace filters at least once a year. Reduce humidity and heat in buildings to keep microbial growth down. Lastly, update your HVAC system to a more efficient system controlled by a Building Automation System (BAS). By doing this, you can control the air quality and track the health of your building.
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