Each May is “Clean Air Month” sponsored by the American Lung Association. Beginning in 1972 as a week long event is was expanded to the entire month in 1994. Since then many states and communities host event to raise awareness about the importance of good air quality both outdoors and indoors.
Importance of Air Quality
Every living thing on the planet is affected by the air.The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports that more than 6 million people a year worldwide die as a result of air pollution. Nearly 30% of air quality related deaths are from cardio pulmonary ailments such as chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer and stroke! The quality of outside air can vary depending on conditions like industry and climate. This can make it difficult for people to avoid certain pollutants in their communities. But since the indoor air can be controlled it is safer, right? Not exactly.
Clean Air Month also puts a spotlight on indoor air quality (IAQ). Consider that we spend 90% of our time indoors. The World Health Organization reports that a third all buildings globally can be classified as “sick”.
Sick Building Syndrome is caused by many factors related to design, utilization and maintenance. Some of these include building pressurization, humidity, temperature and ventilation. If a building goes out of balance in any of these areas IAQ problems can occur. For example, if there is infiltration outside contaminants are brought inside. When ventilation is poor, then carbon dioxide and other gases can build up. If temperature and humidity rise bacteria and mold begins to grow. All of these situations affect the well-being of occupants.
Here are some common indoor pollutants:
- Animal Dander
- Carbon Dioxide
- Carbon Monoxide
- Fungi (Mold)
- Insect Detritus
- Particulate Matter
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
These pollutants can affect people in different ways. This depends type, quantity, concentration and the sensitivity of the individual. Pollutants often buildup in the HVAC systems and are then distributed through the building. This makes HVAC and Duct hygiene a central focus in maintaining optimal IAQ.
Identify, Then Minimize the Risks
Because Clean Air Month brings awareness here are some ways to detect if you have an issue and what to do about it. The main thing is to know the baseline conditions in the building. It all starts with IAQ testing. Building Health Check, LLC, provides a variety of specialized test kits for the common pollutants listed above. These test kits offer do-it-yourself ease of use to take samples and send them to the lab for analysis. After the lab work has been completed a report is sent detailing the outcome of the test and present conditions. This report can then be used to find a solution should an issue be found. Sometimes, the outcome might require more comprehensive professional IAQ testing or remediation. Of course, one proactive measure to ensure good IAQ is to regularly change HVAC filters, keep your ducts clean and make sure you have good housekeeping practices, including using low VOC/Odor cleaning products.
Clean Air Month promotes awareness to both outside and indoor air quality. Building Health Check, LLC supports these efforts on a daily basis providing education and testing options that help improve IAQ for building occupants.
For more information or to get started with our DIY IAQ Test Kits, please call 1-800-422-7873, ext 303 or email us here.