Indoor air quality is very important to our health. There are not many people who worry about indoor air quality unless they suffer from asthma or another respiratory problem that can easily be aggravated by indoor pollutants or bad indoor air quality. If we examine the things in our air we are surprised of the things in the air which can have dramatic affect on our health. People who suffer from respiratory health problems usually see increased health when they institute a good indoor air quality program that can include installing electronic air cleaners and ultra-violet air cleaners along with a good air filtration system.
It helps to understand the basics of the things in our air the limitations which need to be observed. Some of the things in the air we breathe are:
- CO2 – CO2 is naturally produced by humans and pets. The limitations of CO2 in the air are set by ASHRAE at 1000 PPM. If the CO2 level exceeds this amount then we can become uncomfortable and the air can be unhealthy for us. Typically CO2 levels can exceed this amount in office building where there are a lot of people and in classrooms. Modern building controls can monitor CO2 and open outside air dampers to exhaust the CO2 and introduce fresh air into the building to reduce CO2 levels.
- Ozone – Ozone is produced by nature in the way of lightning strikes the roiling waves of the ocean. Ozone can also be produced by photocopiers in offices. Too much ozone is hazardous to our health and needs to be vented.
- Mold and Mildew – Mold and mildew can be found in places where water accumulates and in dark places. Leaking pipes or leaking roofs can cause very bad moisture problems that lead to mold and mildew. HVAC systems often produce moisture when the humidity is high. Things like drain pans and un-insulated ductwork can cause mold and mildew to grow inside the ductwork. Legionnaires’ disease happened in a large hotel in Philadelphia where the HVAC system leaked and spread the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. This is rare but things like this occur when proper maintenance isn’t addressed.
- Carbon Monoxide – Carbon monoxide is the result of combustionable materials not completely burning up in the combustion process. Carbon monoxide detectors are highly recommended in any building that has fossil fuel burning appliances.
- Volatile Organic Compounds – Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s as they are referred to can be very hazardous to our health. A good example of VOC’s is formaldehyde which is used to manufacture carpet and some furniture products.
- Other things in the air can be pet dander, cigarette smoke and cooking odors. These things can affect the health of someone with asthma or other breathing problems by increasing indoor air pollution.
Proper maintenance, proper detectors like carbon monoxide detectors, and a good HVAC air filtration system that includes electronic air cleaners and ultra violet air cleaners can increase the quality of air in the building and increase productivity and address health issues.