Short- And Long-Term Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is a maintenance buzzword that gets tossed around quite frequently, but many facility managers don’t take it seriously. They rely on their technicians and the assumption that their ventilation system is intact to take care of indoor air quality. However, this reactive approach can cause major problems in the health and wellness of your facility and its staff. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 4.3 million people worldwide are affected by fatal complications caused from poor indoor air pollution. This number is concerning for Americans, who spend 90% of their time indoors, especially since the death rate for outdoor air pollution is much lower.  Outdoor air pollution we can see, and we hear about on the news. But indoor air pollution is the silent killer that could be putting your employees and tenants at risk. 

Heart and lung problems are the leading causes of death related to poor indoor air quality. 34% are affected by stroke; 26% develop coronary heart disease; 22% develop COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); the rest are affected by pneumonia (12%), lung disease (6%), and other lung issues. While we think of smoking and hazardous work environments causing these serious illnesses, they can also be caused by common commercial indoor air pollutants. 

Below is a list of the top five most common indoor air pollutants, and how you as the facility manager can reduce or eliminate their effects at your facility: 

  • Dust: Dust, dirt, carpet fibers, or anything else tracked in and out of your facility can cause major indoor air quality problems if your HVAC system is not maintained. Dust will clog your vents and lead to allergy flare-ups and eventually breathing problems if the problem becomes severe. The best way to prevent this is by changing your air filters and ensuring your ventilation system receives proper preventative maintenance. 
  • Combustion products: Gas-powered appliances can create indoor air problems if you do not have a proper ventilation system set up for your facility. Toxic pollutants from the combustion process of water heaters, furnaces, and other appliances can cause severe health issues if inhaled. You must ensure your ventilation system is properly fitted and maintained for the purpose and use of the facility.  
  • Mold and mildew: Mold and mildew are very dangerous to inhale, but can circulate throughout your HVAC system for some time before occupants start to notice symptoms. To prevent mold and mildew, you must control moisture in the HVAC system and water intrusion throughout the facility. 
  • VOCs: Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are harmful byproducts commonly detected in and around commercial poundings. Pesticides, building materials, upholstry, and other materials can release VOCs in the air and cause a wealth of health problems. To prevent this, follow EPA guidelines and stay away from products that emit toxic VOCs. 

If you want to keep your facility healthy and free of indoor air pollutants, preventative maintenance is the first step. By scheduling regular cleaning and maintenance on your HVAC system, you can better protect occupants from harmful health effects of these pollutants. To learn more, contact your local MaintenX team about our HVAC services.

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