Why Indoor Air Quality?


Indoor Air Quality and Your Health

Air quality is a lot like breathing — we rarely think about it unless there’s a problem. Studies have found that in North America and Europe we spend 90% of our time indoors. To put this in perspective, by the time we hit 40, most of us will have spent 36 years indoors. For all of this time spent indoors, we have a lack of regulation on indoor air quality, even though we have been monitoring outdoor air pollution since the 1970’s.

But how does the air indoors effect us?

The concerns are not unfounded; the EPA has found that indoor air can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air.  The EPA lists the following health effects that poor indoor air quality can have on humans: 

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. 
  • Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. 
  • Respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer. 

The EPA further notes that “episodes of Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia caused by exposure to the Legionella bacterium, have been associated with buildings with poorly maintained air conditioning or heating systems.”   

All of these allow for us to breathe in and digest pollutants, viruses, pathogens, and bacteria indoors. We’ve seen how this has effected the pandemic, but we need to focus on indoor air quality for our longterm health.

Aside from poor ventilation, what is making us sick indoors?

Particulate matter can come from inside our homes through volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs include sources such as:

  • Building and furniture materials
  • Newly installed flooring, upholstery or carpet
  • Certain pressed wood products
  • Cleaning products
  • Excess moisture
  • Tobacco Products


Indoor air quality

Coronavirus Indoors

Scientists who initially warned about contaminated surfaces now say that the virus spreads primarily through inhaled droplets, and that there is little to no evidence that deep cleaning mitigates the threat indoors (Source).

Along with social distancing, mask wearing is the first line of defense against breathing contaminated air indoors, said Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr., a professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University School of Medicine, who has consulted with HVAC companies. “HVAC systems are of great significance in reducing the amount of airborne particles since this virus can be spread in an airborne fashion,” he added, calling the tiniest aerosols “the most dangerous.” (Source).

This is why Air Brilliance has opted to use a combination of these technologies to remove contaminants from the air.


Airborne Transmission

To visually illustrate the risk of airborne transmission in real time, The Washington Post used an infrared camera made by the company FLIR Systems that is capable of detecting exhaled breath (below). Numerous experts — epidemiologists, virologists and engineers — supported the notion of using exhalation as a conservative proxy to show potential transmission risk in various settings (Source).

According to experts, the footage underrepresents the potential risk of exposure from airborne particles. Those particles may spread farther or linger longer than the visible exhalation plume, which dissipates quickly to a level of concentration the camera can no longer detect (Source).

Infrared video shows the risks of airborne coronavirus spread. Washington Post. December 11, 2020.

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