Mother Nature has always taken care of the outdoors when it comes to Air Quality, What About Indoor Air Quality
How Mother Nature Cleans the Air
In nature, there are many factors and it is quite complex, The three most effective ways are:
- Is the Sun, The Sun’s rays pass through the atmosphere, the Sun generate ultraviolet rays that act like a germicidal light, which destroys germs, mold, and mildew. This is why mold and mildew does not grow in sunny locations.
- During this time, it causes another reaction which transforms some of the oxygen (O2) into ozone (O3), which is a powerful cleaning agent 300 times more efficient than most used household cleaners. Ozone is produced naturally in the stratosphere when highly energetic solar radiation strikes molecules of oxygen, and cause the two oxygen atoms to split apart in a process called photolysis.
- Energetic solar radiation also imparts an electrical charge on particles of air. This process is known as ionization . The magnetic charge causes the Atom particles to be attracted to each other, so they become heavier than air and fall to the ground.
How Does This Help Us In Our Homes? It Doesn’t!
Sick Building Syndrome is used by the EPA “Environmental Protection Agency” The term “sick building syndrome” (SBS) is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified. Based on this information test after test have been done and the result have pointed to poor Indoor Air Quality.
What caused this? There are Four Causes
- Inadequate ventilation: In the early and mid 1900’s, building ventilation standards called for approximately 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of outside air for each building occupant, primarily to dilute and remove body odors. As a result of the 1973 oil embargo, however, national energy conservation measures called for a reduction in the amount of outdoor air provided for ventilation to 5 cfm per occupant. In many cases these reduced outdoor air ventilation rates were found to be inadequate to maintain the health and comfort of building occupants. Inadequate ventilation, which may also occur if heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems do not effectively distribute air to people in the building.
- Chemical contaminants from indoor sources: For example, adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, manufactured wood products, copy machines, pesticides, and cleaning agents may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde. Environmental tobacco smoke contributes high levels of VOCs, other toxic compounds, and respirable particulate matter. Research shows that some VOCs can cause chronic and acute health effects at high concentrations, and some are known carcinogens. Low to moderate levels of multiple VOCs may also produce acute reactions. Combustion products such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, as well as respirable particles, can come from un-vented kerosene and gas space heaters, wood-stoves, fireplaces and gas stoves.
- Chemical contaminants from outdoor sources: The outdoor air that enters a building can be a source of indoor air pollution. For example, pollutants from motor vehicle exhausts; plumbing vents, and building exhausts (e.g., bathrooms and kitchens) can enter the building through poorly located air intake vents, windows, and other openings. In addition, combustion products can enter a building from a nearby garage.
- Biological contaminants: : Bacteria, molds, pollen, and viruses are types of biological contaminants. These contaminants may breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in ducts, humidifiers and drain pans, or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, carpeting, or insulation. Sometimes insects or bird droppings can be a source of biological contaminants. Physical symptoms related to biological contamination include cough, chest tightness, fever, chills, muscle aches, and allergic responses such as mucous membrane irritation and upper respiratory congestion. One indoor bacterium, Is VIRUSES such as Legionella, has caused both Legionnaire’s Disease and Pontiac Fever. These elements may act in combination, and may supplement other complaints such as inadequate temperature, humidity, or lighting. Even after a building investigation, however, the specific causes of the complaints may remain unknown.
What is the Solution to Sick Building Syndrome? Solutions to sick building syndrome usually include combinations of the following:
- Pollutant source removal or modification is an effective approach to resolving an IAQ problem when sources are known and control is feasible. Examples include routine maintenance of HVAC systems, e.g., periodic cleaning or replacement of filters; replacement of water-stained ceiling tile and carpeting; institution of smoking restrictions; venting contaminant source emissions to the outdoors; storage and use of paints, adhesives, solvents, and pesticides in well ventilated areas, and use of these pollutant sources during periods of non-occupancy; and allowing time for building materials in new or remodeled areas to off-gas pollutants before occupancy. All of these options may be exercised at one time.
- Increasing ventilation rates and air distribution often can be a cost effective means of reducing indoor pollutant levels. HVAC systems should be designed, at a minimum, to meet ventilation standards in local building codes; however, many systems are not operated or maintained to ensure that these design ventilation rates are provided. In many buildings, IAQ can be improved by operating the HVAC system to at least its design standard, and to ASHRAE Standard 62-1989 if possible. When there are strong pollutant sources, local exhaust ventilation may be appropriate to exhaust contaminated air directly from the building. Local exhaust ventilation is particularly recommended to remove pollutants that accumulate in specific areas such as bath rooms, Kitchens, and basements.
- Air cleaning can be a useful adjunct to source control and ventilation but has certain limitations. Particle control devices such as the typical furnace filter are inexpensive but do not effectively capture small particles; high performance air filters capture the smaller, respirable particles but are relatively expensive to install and operate. Mechanical filters do not remove gaseous pollutants. Some specific gaseous pollutants may be removed by adsorbent beds, but these devices can be expensive and require frequent replacement of the adsorbent material. In sum, air cleaners can be useful, but have limited application.
What Can You Do To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality?
- An indoor air quality investigation procedure: Contact a HVAC Contractor to investigate and gather information. It generally begins with a walk through inspection of the problem area to provide information about the four basic factors that influence Poor Indoor Air Quality:
- The Occupants: Interviewing each occupant to determine aliments or symptoms they may be experiencing.
- The HVAC system: Full Inspection of the Heating and AC System.
- Possible Pollutant pathways: Checking for areas Pollutants maybe entering the building.
- Possible Contaminant sources: What Contaminants are being use and the effects it has on occupants.
The Technology does exist to mimic Mother Natures way of Cleaning our Poor Indoor Air Quality.
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