We hear the term "Relative Humidity" quite often. It is generally viewed as a simple concept - how much moisture is in the air. It turns out that it's a bit more complicated than this (but not by that much).
Cashins & Associates Blog
Whether or not an interior space has good indoor air quality usually hinges on one thing: how much fresh air is being delivered.
We all know that there is particulate matter in the air – we can see it floating in sunlight or over the beam of a projector. What you might not know is that there are many other particles present in indoor and outdoor air that are much too small to see. These particles, less than 0.1 micron in diameter, are known as "Ultrafine Particles or "Nanoparticles."
It was once believed that ozone was a primary contributor to asthma, but as ozone levels decreased, asthma levels continued to increase. Nevertheless, ozone is still a lung irritant that likely plays a small role is asthma attacks. Several studies also claim that asthma has no relation to air quality at all because outdoor air quality has been improving due to Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) air quality standards. However, the EPA only controls and monitors outdoor air quality. Since Americans spend ninety percent of their time indoors, indoor air quality is a more pressing concern for Americans with asthma.
Indoor air quality is often much worse than outdoor air quality. Since indoor pollutants are confined to a small space and not allowed to interact with the natural processes that filter outdoor air, they accumulate and reach high concentrations in buildings that are not properly ventilated. However, if the air outdoors is also poor, the benefits of ventilation are not as great. The EPA points out that people in low income communities suffer more from asthma than people in high income communities. Many low income communities are often located near factories and power plants that emit large amounts of particulate matter such as soot and dust into the air. Diesel exhaust from trucks making deliveries to these industrial facilities also contrubutes to the particulate level. Still, indoor air is usually laden with compounds that outdoor air is not.
There are several different sources of pollutants that can trigger asthma attacks indoors. Pets, dust, mold, smoke, and chemical odors from household cleaning products are all common triggers for asthma attacks. Household cleaning products release volatile organic compounds which irritate air passageways. Pets release dander and mold releases spores that can enter air passageways in the form of particulate matter. Smoke and dust are also forms of particulate matter that are known to cause asthma attacks. An asthma attack from these sources can be particularly severe if the person has allergies.
Outdoors, there are also several pollutants that can trigger asthma attacks, but since they are not confined and concentrated like indoor pollutants, it is more difficult to tell which pollutants are worst for people with asthma. Pollen from trees, weeds, and grass is a definite trigger for asthma attacks. Pollen has been determined as an asthma attack trigger because Americans experience many more asthma attacks in the spring than they do in winter months, while other pollutants tend to be present year-round. In general, particulates such as pollen and soot are cited as leading outdoor asthma attack triggers.
Staying away from exposure to high concentrations of particulate matter indoors or outdoors is a good strategy for anyone who has asthma or may develop asthma. In 2007, asthma related issues cost Americans $50.1 billion in medical expenses. America has already reduced the presence of triggers for outdoor asthma attacks significantly, but the costs of asthma treatment continue to rise. Providing proper ventilation in our homes and businesses will reduce particulate matter and other pollutant concentrations indoors, this will help Americans put a dent in this figure.
During many of our indoor air quality surveys, we will discover the same simple mistake made by occupants and property managers. The thermostats within the space have all been set to “Auto.” The question is – does anyone really know what this means?
Controlling drafts can significantly control incidence of thermal discomfort complaints.
“I’m too hot! I’m too cold! ” Have you heard these complaints in your office? Adverse thermal comfort and air quality issues in the office will impact employee productivity, efficiency, comfort, and morale. It will increase costs unless properly addressed. The primary causes of such issues can often be addressed and solved by understanding work and HVAC system conditions and how they contribute to such problems. Once the risk factors relating to these conditions are understood, solutions to the issues often become apparent.
Building owners and Facility Management Professionals are inundated day in and day out with many occupant requests. As facility management professionals are well aware, there is enough routine building maintenance to perform never mind the emergency situations that always seem to present themselves at the least opportune times. Then there are the non-descript indoor air quality issues that are not obvious or easy to identify. Occupants may indicate that they have a headache, itchy eyes, sore throat, or feel tired.
You can’t get away from it! If you don’t provide exhaust, odors, smoke, haze and other contaminants will build-up and complaints about poor indoor air quality will follow. But running those wall exhausters and roof exhausters each winter gets expensive. What can you do?