Indoor air quality problems can occur in any size building, from private homes with a few occupants to large office buildings or schools. Most people feel there are some problems with their building environment. Many sources suggest that if more than 20 percent of occupants experience discomfort or dissatisfaction with the building environment, an investigation may be warranted.
Indoor air pollution is usually caused by the accumulation of contaminants from various sources inside a home. Emissions from fireplaces, stoves, cigarettes, cleaning products, newer building materials, mold and chemicals stored in the home can cause indoor air problems. People living in this type of environment may experience adverse health effects from breathing these contaminants.
Many factors contribute to indoor air pollution. Adding insulation and caulking to weatherize the home to save on energy costs can reduce air circulation and trap contaminants inside the home.
Many people underestimate the extent of the indoor air pollution problem. Air pollution is usually visualized as the black smoke emitted from factories. Little thought is given to tobacco smoke and the by-products of aerosol sprays, paints, cleaners, and pesticides used in the home. To compound the problem, it is estimated that the average American spends 70 percent to 90 percent of his or her time indoors, and more than half that time is spent in the home.
Indoor air pollution affects our health and productivity because we spend the bulk of our time indoors at home, school, work, etc. Being aware of indoor air quality allows you to help maintain a healthy environment.
Cleaners, cosmetics, personal care products, disinfectants, air fresheners, paints, solvents, pesticides, nicotine, glue: the list of chemicals in our homes is extensive. Heavy concentrations of these chemicals can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat, cause headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea, and can damage your liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Children and elderly are particularly vulnerable, as are pets. In fact, pets are often the ones who show signs of illness first.
• When you or someone else is having trouble breathing indoors.
• When you smell something unusual indoors.
• When you or someone else is constantly getting sick while spending time indoors.
• When someone has a weak immune system and requires a clean environment.
• When you are buying a residential or commercial building.
• Whenever there is a concern or reason to believe that your IAQ is poor or compromised.