Although most people are aware of the hazards of breathing polluted air such as smog or automobile emissions while outside, few are aware of the hazards associated with low-quality indoor air. In fact, indoor air quality is frequently worse than outdoors.
Workplaces, as well as other shared public spaces, are often beset with poor air quality. Poor air quality not just makes buildings uncomfortable places to spend a long period of time, but it can also have significant health effects. Indoor air quality has been linked to lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
In the United Kingdom, poor air quality is considered a major environmental hazard, with pollution claiming roughly 40,000 early fatalities each year. As a result, building owners and managers must have a comprehensive plan in place to manage indoor air quality.
Types Of Air Pollution
The Types Of Air Pollution Include:
- Particulate matter – The air contains tiny particles of dust and dirt, such as soot and dust mites.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) – Acrylamide is a chemical that can be produced as a result of cooking at high temperatures, among other things. It’s found in foods as well, such as bread and french fries. The most common sources are cleaning chemicals, construction materials and pain medicines, as well as electrical goods.
- Allergens – There are also fine particles that may induce an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. Fungal particles, dust mite droppings, and pollen are the main sources of allergens. The levels are higher in humid, wet structures.
- Gases – The bad things you breathe in the range from carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulphur dioxide.
Factors That Influence Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air pollution is dependent on a number of external as well as internal factors. These include activities such as smoking and geographical variables such as whether the structure is near a busy road or junction. There are other indicators that can influence the situation, including industrial processes operating nearby or environmental elements like radon gas.
Pollutants that are generated within a structure are frequently produced by building materials, furnishings, and equipment. Smoking, cooking, heating, and the use of cleaning chemicals and air fresheners are all activities that take place inside a building.
Pollutants can come from outside the building if they are generated by traffic or industrial activities that migrate inside via windows or a lack of ventilation that doesn’t keep air circulating.
It’s also vital to keep in mind that air quality varies from room to room. Some rooms, particularly those near a busy street, may have significantly worse air quality than one in another part of the building with a view of green open space.
Another crucial element in determining indoor air pollutants is the rate of exchange between indoors and the outdoors. This is determined by the building’s design, construction, and operational variables, among other things. Infiltration plays a role here.
This is the air that enters a structure via gaps in walls, ceilings, floors, joints, and around windows and doors. The air exchange rate will be influenced by both natural and mechanical ventilation, such as that supplied by an efficient HVAC system.
Indoor air quality is also affected by the outside environment and overall weather conditions. The behaviour of the building’s occupants, to some extent, is determined by the weather, whether or not they keep windows open or closed and whether they use air conditioners, heaters, or humidifiers being influenced.
All of these factors will have an influence on the building’s air quality.
When humidity levels rise due to poor ventilation or air conditioning, mould growth and indoor dampness may be exacerbated.
How To Improve Indoor Air Quality
Improving indoor air quality requires adequate ventilation and ventilation. Natural ventilation may be used to achieve a certain amount of natural ventilation, but there are limits. During the winter months, it’s not always practical to open windows and doors in the United Kingdom, so increasing the heat to make up for it is inefficient and costly.
If you live in a city, opening windows may be harmful since they can lead to an increase in indoor air pollution.
When chemicals or cleaning solutions are used indoors, if at all feasible, contaminants should be removed and the source of problems such as mould should be avoided. Adequate additional ventilation should be provided when using chemicals or cleaning products inside.
Finally, well-designed and efficient mechanical HVAC systems should be implemented to properly address overall indoor air quality. Indoor air quality should be considered at the beginning of the design and commissioning process. Any HVAC system in use should be tested on a regular basis to assure that it is operating at maximum efficiency.
Retro-commissioning, in some circumstances, may be required, particularly if you’re dealing with an older building or one that has changed use. This is a time-consuming and thorough procedure for upgrading the efficiency of an existing structure’s equipment and systems.
ECS Yorkshire is a leading HVAC commissioning, retro, and re-commissioning firm in the United Kingdom.