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What You Need to Know About Indoor Air Quality Issues

1. The Importance of Good Indoor Air Quality

We are spending more time indoors than ever before as we shuffle our way through this pandemic. Current trends make it all the more important to make sure that our indoor air quality is as clean as possible. This means that we need to be thinking about three very important things:

  1. What causes indoor air pollution?
  2. How do you test indoor air quality?
  3. What is the best way to clean our indoor air?

These very important issues will be addressed in order to help you address a wide range of indoor air quality concerns and improve our overall indoor air quality.

2. The Impact of Poor Indoor Air Quality on Human Health

The impact of air pollution on human health is primarily from two indoor pollutants: gaseous pollutants and particulate matter (PM) that is suspended in the air or in humidity in the air. When determining how to test indoor air quality it is important to know that only the largest particulate matter is visible to humans, leaving most particulate matter undetectable except through testing. 

As airborne particles get smaller and lighter, they can remain in the air longer and can also cause more significant health problems. PM exposure may cause allergy-like symptoms, including irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. It may also lead to worse symptoms in those with coronary and respiratory diseases, contributing to premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

Many of the common gaseous pollutants are considered volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs include a wide range of chemicals, many of which are toxic. The problem is that many VOCs are commonly emitted by cleaning and maintenance products. These VOCs include formaldehyde, benzene and methylene chloride, which are known to cause both short- and long-term health problems, including:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat;
  • Headaches;
  • Loss of coordination;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Skin problems;
  • Damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system;
  • Cancer.

As with many pollutants, the severity of the associated health effects will depend on two factors: the concentration of the airborne pollutant and the length of one’s exposure.

3. Check For These Indoor Air Quality Issues

It can be hard to know sometimes what causes indoor air pollution. The air may seem clean and fresh but hidden problems may lurk in your building, business, factory or indoor facility that cause indoor air quality concerns. When determining what causes indoor air pollution in your facility, here are a few of the most common culprits.

– Mold

Mold can be a problem in older homes that may have developed leaks or had plumbing issues. Therefore it is important to not only inspect your facility for mold, but also to test your indoor air for mold.

What is surprising is that even new construction can have mold issues. When new buildings are being built they are left open to the elements and can collect and hold water if the builder rushes to install insulation, vapor barrier and inner walls before the framing is completely dry. Another way that moisture gets inside newly constructed buildings is when concrete slabs do not get time to cure and dry. In fact depending on location these foundations and basements can raise humidity levels in a facility for up to 3 years. 

The problem with elevated indoor humidity and trapped moisture is that they create the conditions for mold to grow on the framing and inside the walls. Mold can be detrimental to your health so it can be important to have a professional inspect your facility ahead of time.

– Poor Ventilation

Proper ventilation is essential to maintaining good indoor air quality. Even in new buildings the air quality will be compromised if the ventilation system installed is improperly balanced or is too small for the size of the facility. Recent efforts to increase the insulation ratings of all buildings have often made them airtight. Ventilation problems can arise in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter when buildings get shut up tight and improper ventilation or air flow with the outside allows for pollutants, dust, fumes and even CO2 to build up inside facilities. 

– Fine Dust

Construction produces a lot of fine dust. This includes wood dust, drywall dust, metals and even insulation fibers that can create indoor air quality issues. And these issues can occur even after detailed duct cleanings or post construction cleanings are done. When particulate matter gets inhaled it can cause upper respiratory system irritation and infection and may lead to potential lung diseases.

It is best to approach indoor air quality concerns by getting a professional indoor air quality assessment performed. These tests can detect dust as small as 0.3 microns, 1.0 microns and 2.0 microns, much smaller than even the best HVAC filters can remove. Many air quality testing companies will only test from 2.5 – 10 microns which is not small enough.

– VOC’s and Formaldehyde

New construction will often have “that new building smell”, but those odors can be indicators of sloughed chemicals that can be harmful to occupants who are sensitive to pollutants. They may include Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s, which are emitted into the indoor air by oil based stains and paints, cleaners, glues, etc. Formaldehyde is a VOC that is commonly used in the manufacture of many commonly used products such as electronics, furniture, upholstery and carpeting, which we often bring into our new buildings before allowing them to release these chemicals.

Of even more concern is the fact that some of these chemicals are odorless. This means that detection of these chemicals in your air can only be done by professional chemical or VOC testing.

4. What’s next?

Having addressed the question about what causes indoor air pollution, your next step is to learn how to test indoor air quality in your newly constructed building. This part is easy. Call a professional environmental testing lab to get the very best testing results, down to the lowest potential levels of detection, on all types of potential hazards and pollutants.

Excellent indoor air quality testing begins with quality testing from experienced, reputable and certified environmental testing laboratories like Torrent Laboratory.  

  1. Torrent Lab is the premier environmental testing laboratory for California and Hawaii.
  2. Our lab has the fastest Turnaround times in the industry and unparalleled on-time performance at getting results back to our clients.
  3. Torrent Laboratory’s ambient air testing services are certified by the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DOE) Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Programs (ELAP). Our clients have the highest level of confidence in our data, knowing it must meet the high level of scrutiny required by these ELAPs.
  4. When looking for an air quality testing laboratory, Torrent offers the most impeccable record of quality service and testing results in the industry. 
  5. Our customer support is timely, efficient and friendly and our technical support is unrivaled in its professionalism and expertise.  

If any concerns are discovered you can count on Torrent and all of the top certified environmental testing labs. They will help to guide you in finding the very best means and methods for cleaning up your indoor air quality issues. These clean ups will vary widely depending on what is discovered.