In a normal day of going about our business at home and at work, we are being exposed to environmental pollutants that pose varying degrees of risk. Some risks are simply unavoidable, such as automobile pollution, environmental dusts, and normal environmental levels of bioaerosols (molds and bacteria). Some we choose to accept because otherwise would restrict our ability to lead our lives the way we want, such as pollutants from photo copiers, computers, or cleansing materials.
In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more polluted than the air outside, in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.
In addition, people who may be exposed to indoor air pollutants for the longest periods of time are often those most susceptible to the effects of indoor air pollution. Such groups include the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
Concern over the quality of air inside buildings is now receiving the attention that the quality of outside air received in the 1970's. Acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ) is defined in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62 Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality as, "Air in which there are no known contaminants at harmful concentrations and with which a substantial majority of the people exposed do not express dissatisfaction."
Poor IAQ is caused by airborne particulates and gases or vapors that adversely affect occupant health and comfort, the building structure or its furnishings. Some IAQ problems are so adverse that the entire structure may be defined as a ‘sick building’.
Many of the environmental pollutants are new and are the result of changes in HVAC system design and operating practices; others have existed for years but health conscious building occupants are now complaining about them.
Results of Poor IAQ:
Poor IAQ has been shown to result in increased incidence of illness and absenteeism, reduced productivity, irritability, complaints about building odor and stuffiness and health problems. These may include allergies, coughing, diarrhea, eye, nose and throat irritation, fatigue, general respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, dizziness, runny nose and skin irritation.
Some specific contaminats and concerns are addressed in the documents listed in the accompainemnet window to the left.
Additionally, the United States Department of Environmental Protection published multiple documents pertaining to the subject of IAQ in Commercial Buildings.