The Benefits of Controlling Indoor Air Quality

Monitoring and controlling your indoor air quality (IAQ) offers a number of benefits. In addition to safe-guarding the health of a building’s residents, controlling IAQ can improve productivity and even help your HVAC system to work at maximum efficiency. These days, people spend an estimated 90 percent of their time indoors and breathing indoor air. As a result, it’s hardly surprising that unhealthy indoor air can have a serious impact on other aspects of our lives.

Poor IAQ Has Negative Effects on Health

Exposure to poor air quality can have a negative effect on health almost immediately. Symptoms and problems that can arise shortly after exposure include headaches, upper respiratory congestion, fatigue, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes, ears, nose and throat. Many people experience these discomforts on a regular basis without realizing that poor IAQ may be to blame.

Potential health problems increase with long term exposure to indoor air pollutants. Poor IAQ can be a contributing factor in a number of debilitating or even fatal illnesses, including heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer.

Sick Building Syndrome Lowers Productivity

When many people who regularly occupy a building suffer negative health effects from poor air quality, the phenomenon is known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). SBS usually features acute symptoms that ease significantly when the affected parties leave the building. SBS tends to occur in office buildings with open-plan offices, in which many people are exposed to the same air quality conditions.

Sick Building Syndrome can arise from a number of different factors, and often a combination of several factors. Airborne or chemical pollutants, temperature and humidity problems, poor ventilation, ozone emissions from office equipment, and high concentrations of total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) can all contribute to unhealthy indoor air.

Offices that suffer from SBS can suffer major reductions in productivity, These buildings will experience a very high number of employee sick days, and the performance of employees who are present is also likely to be impaired.

The Green Building Problem

Surprisingly, “green” buildings are among the most likely to suffer from Sick Building Syndrome. These offices, built to have a minimal impact on the outdoor environment, too often fail to consider their indoor environment. Green buildings frequently limit the amount of air that circulates from the outside, and this can allow pollutants to build up indoors.

IAQ Gives Insight Into HVAC Performance

Monitoring indoor air quality not only provides warning of harmful contaminants but can also let you know how well your HVAC system is functioning. IAQ monitors carbon dioxide levels, which in turn lets you know how well your system is ventilating. Over-ventilation reduces the energy efficiency of your HVAC system, and monitoring of carbon dioxide levels is a great way to make sure your building reaches a perfect balance between air quality and HVAC efficiency.

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