Indoor air quality (IAQ) has a tremendous impact on the health and wellbeing of facility occupants--with effects ranging from minor physical discomfort to asthma and significant cognitive impairment.
Why Indoor Air Quality Matters
Environmental pollution is everywhere, both inside and out.
The health concerns over indoor environmental pollution stem from two facts:
- People in the United States spend more than ninety percent of their time indoors, and;
- Environmental pollution inside of facilities has been measured at two to five times the levels outside.
The sources of the pollution can range from workaday sources, such as dust or dust mites, to more concerning sources, such as mold or asbestos.
Regardless, indoor air pollution and quality are challenges that impact everyone.
Studies have shown that indoor air pollution costs the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars per year in health-related expenses.
Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is a serious problem for generals and non-generals.
It is invisible to a human eye but can easily influence the health and productivity of a workforce.
Studies show that air pollution-related illness results in roughly $150 billion in losses.
Low IAQ aggravates asthma symptoms, which affect one in thirteen U.S. students, and is the leading cause of absenteeism due to chronic illness.
There is substantial evidence that indoor environmental exposure to allergens, such as dust mites, pests and molds, plays a role in triggering asthma symptoms.
These allergens are common in schools.
These problems can:
Impact student attendance, comfort and performance.
Reduce teacher and staff performance.
Create liability problems, [and];
Increase potential for school closings or relocation of occupants.
Finally, studies have shown that in severe instances, after prolonged exposure, which we are all subject to, environmental air pollution leads to extreme cognitive diminution and brain damage--effects that include:
- Accelerated brain aging - 2 years lost per 4 mcg per cubic meter of fine-particulate matter exposure.
- Behavioral changes - Specifically, impulse control issues over time.
- Blood-brain barrier breakdown - Resulting in cognitive impairment, compromised immune functions, poor information processing, and abnormal neural functioning.
- Brain volume loss - Specifically, a substantial loss of white brain matter.
- Cognitive impairment - Most notably among children with underdeveloped brains, and contributing to issues with attention and recollection.
- Developmental impairments - Long-term exposure to environmental air pollution diminishes brain development, essentially making us dumber.
- Reduced IQ - When compared to those living in areas with higher quality air and control groups, individuals exposed to low IAQ over a long period demonstrated reduced IQ.
- Mood disorders - A direct result of reduced development in regions of the brain due to particulate exposure.
- Neurodegeneration - Increased biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, especially those with specific genes.
- Neuroinflamation - Contributes to cognitive decline, mood disorders, and degeneration.
- Oxidative stress - Contributes to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species, resulting in impairment, degeneration, and strokes.
- Sensory processing deficits - Impairments to olfactory, auditory, and vestibular functioning, and;
- Stroke risk - Exposure to small amounts of particulate matter increases silent stroke risk by fifty percent.
Simple Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality
The first step to eliminating environmental air pollution indoors is to identify the source and remove it.
Typically, this can be accomplished through inexpensive air quality tests.
Some of the most common sources of environmental air pollution indoors come from dust, dust mites, mold, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) off-gassed from various products found in the office or classroom, including printer toner.
Increasing ventilation into occupied areas of a facility, especially classrooms or workspaces where intuitive or creative processes regularly occur, will also help in the reduction of particulates in the air.
Additionally, HEPA filtration systems in well-maintained HVAC systems will significantly reduce particles in the air.
From a custodial and facilities maintenance perspective:
- Vacuum carpets and walkway mats every day with a HEPA filtered vacuum.
- Sweep, mop, and dust regularly with microfiber-based equipment.
- Place high-performance walkway mats at entry points and have them regularly serviced, and;
- Eliminate the use of toxic commercial cleaning products, pesticides, and fertilizers.
References & Resources
Indoor environmental air pollution is an under-reported public health issue facing everyone in the U.S., which is odd, given the enormous financial burden it presents.
Fortunately, it is possible to cost-effectively identify and treat for indoor air pollution sources--an expense easily overcome by the gains in production, health, and performance, as well as the offsets associated with chronic absenteeism.
Outsourcing to an experienced and dedicated service provider will ensure your facilities' cleaning and air control policies are met, on budget and on time.
If you would like more information regarding the implementation of indoor air quality controls and services, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation onsite assessment of your facilities' infection prevention and control requirements, contact us today for a free quote!
In Bakersfield CA, call (661) 437-3253
In Fresno CA, call (559) 206-1059
In Valencia CA, or Santa Clarita CA, call (661) 437-3253