In recent decades, there have been major pushes for reform when it comes to air quality and air pollution in general. Legislation such as the Clean Air Act has helped to reduce outdoor smog drastically in thriving metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles. But while clean outdoor air is indeed necessary to improve quality of life and reduce the risks of respiratory illness, one aspect has been severely overlooked in these clean air campaigns — indoor air quality.
Indoor Air Quality is More Important Than Previously Thought
A recent study from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed indoor air quality and the effects that everyday items such as aerosols, paint, pesticides, etc. can have on it. And the results were staggering.
Anthropogenic secondary organic aerosols (ASOA) are far more toxic than previously thought. The study concludes that ASOA have caused between 340,000-900,000 premature deaths, which is 10x more than previous estimations.
Experts admit that indoor air quality is a very overlooked aspect of our everyday health. One of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Benjamin Nault, told Forbes, “We can see what’s coming out of cars. But when we’re inside, we do not see what is slowly coming off the carpets or the cleaning products we use in our household. . .When we burn toast, we can see the smoke, but we don’t think about everything else associated with the kitchen – cleaning products, what kind of stove top you are using or cooking oil – all these produce fine particles, which we inhale.”
Why is Indoor Air Quality Just Now Being Discussed?
In short: COVID-19.
It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has had sweeping effects on nearly every aspect of our lives. When you consider the fact that the average American spends 87% of their time indoors, a percentage that has surely increased over the past year and a half due to lockdowns and quarantine mandates, the picture becomes a little clearer. Since nearly the start of the pandemic, health officials have urged people to increase outdoor air ventilation in order to decrease the risk of coronavirus transmission. Because of this, more attention has been focused on not only how airborne diseases transmit indoors, but also what could negatively impact overall air quality, including basic household items.
Improving indoor air quality is crucial in protecting your lungs from everyday harmful airborne bacteria and viruses. Air contaminants can damage your lungs and weaken your immune system, thereby increasing susceptibility to contracting more severe respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
How Can I Protect Myself From Airborne Illnesses?
Whether in the office or at home, there are some easy and cost-effective ways in which you can protect yourself and others against indoor airborne illnesses:
- Ensure HVAC systems provide outdoor air ventilation and run them more frequently
- Open windows, aiming for cross-ventilation
- Place fans in windows to further promote air exchange
- Install air filtration units, both centralized in HVAC systems and portable units
- Buy an upper room Germicidal UV lighting system
- Monitor air quality with a sensor network
- Hire indoor air quality experts to test and monitor overall air quality
Indoor Science is Your #1 Resource For Indoor Air Quality Testing and Monitoring
Industry experts and scientists suggest replacing indoor air 6 times every hour — a task that may not sound easy. We are the partner you can depend on to navigate you through these processes, ensuring that you and those around you are safe.
Indoor Science, part of Aftermath Environmental Quality Services, is the nationally recognized expert in providing training and consulting in indoor air quality, industrial hygiene, and environmental sciences. Together, we keep people safe from viruses, bacteria, mold, asbestos, radon, and a myriad of other airborne hazards.
To start protecting yourself and those around you from harmful airborne pathogens, call us at 312.920.9393.