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Air Quality- An important determinant of health

Air quality refers to the quality of air within buildings and structures, which has an impact on the health and comfort of occupants. It is in a state of constant flux as it involves dynamic interaction of complex factors affecting the types and levels of pollutants in indoor spaces

The quality of indoor air is gaining increasing importance as a major health concern. Key reasons for this include:

This diagram explains how we spend more time in doors and around man-made buildings and materials and furnishings and household cleaning and personal care items

Exposure to pollutants is potentially higher as more time is spent indoors leading to decreased exposure to fresh air.
An indoor air pollutant refers to any matter in the air with the potential to adversely impact the health of office inmates. The source of pollutants could be from outside or inside the office. Sources of pollutants outside the office include a car engine running idle or radon present in the building. Indoor source of air pollution include:

This diagram explains the different types of indoor sources of air pollution such as office equipment cleaning and deodorising products, mould growth and down, poorly maintained HVAC systems, chemical leakage from water coolers and contamination from nearby renovation or construction areas

Indoor air contaminated with pollutants significantly increases the risk of illness, asthma, allergies, infections as well as a host of other health problems involving the throat, nose and lungs are the result of breathing in contaminated air on a regular basis. Allergic reactions and asthmatic symptoms are very often caused by pollen and mold if present in indoor air. Exposure to sufficiently high carbon monoxide levels in indoor air can lead to headaches, nausea, brain damage, and in some cases even death. Viruses and bacteria thrive in poorly ventilated offices, and can cause respiratory problems for occupants. While Radon exposure increases lung cancer risk

The possible impact of these pollutants on health is generally dependant on:

  • Quantum of pollutant exposed to or inhaled
  • Duration of exposure
  • Family history
  • General health and age of the person

Regulating the quality of indoor air basically involves an integration of three components.

  • Control pollutant sources by removing them completely or isolating them from people through physical barriers, or by controlling the timing of their use.
  • Dilute and remove pollutants from through ventilation.
  • Use filtration to remove pollutants from the air

It is important to pay attention to proper installation and maintenance of the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to ensure good indoor air quality.

HVAC systems cover all equipment used:

  • To ventilate, heat, and cool the building
  • For ductwork
  • To filter and clean the air

Poorly maintained HVAC systems can also act as a source of pollutants. Proper and regular air quality monitoring as well as maintenance and servicing of HVAC systems is a key to ensuring a regular supply of clean and healthy air within your office premises.