Indoor Air Quality: Stats That Will Leave You Speechless
Updated: Nov 20
“Indoor Air Quality” (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.
IAQ is an important health and safety concern with even greater relevance now that COVID-19 has made people aware of microscopic health threats present in indoor air.
According to the EPA, in recent decades, indoor concentrations of some pollutants have increased due to factors such as increased use of synthetic building materials, furnishings, personal care products, pesticides, and household cleaners.
Understanding the potential impact of IAQ on human health and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce the risk of indoor health concerns.
We have pulled together some statistics related to IAQ and actions you can take to reduce exposure to indoor air pollutants.
VOC concentrations in indoor environments are at least 10 times higher than outdoors, regardless of the building location.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), are gases containing a variety of chemicals emitted from certain liquids or solids, some of which may have short and long-term adverse health effects.
VOC concentrations are up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors because they can be emitted by numerous products, such as cleaners, solvents, aerosols and air fresheners.
Short-term exposure to high levels of VOCs can cause eyes, nose or throat irritation, headaches, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, allergies and asthma.
Long-term exposure to high levels of VOCs can lead to an increased cancer risk, liver and kidney damage and central nervous system symptoms.
What you can do: Increase ventilation when using products that emit VOCs and do not store opened containers of unused paints.
Learn more about Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality.
The main VOC sources in offices include photocopiers, printers, furniture, cleaning products, wall and floor coverings.
In an office environment, there are many potential sources of VOCs including polluted outdoor air, furnishing and office equipment.
In 2005, at the University of Syracuse in New York, Berrios et al, measured the VOCs emissions from office equipment such as printers, computers and workstation systems. It was found out the use of printers leads to increased concentrations of toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene, while other electronics, such as computers, may contribute to toluene and xylene emissions. Emissions were 10 to 120 times higher when the computers were “on” than “off”.
According to the Canadian Indoor Air Reference Levels for Chronic Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds, some health effects of chronic exposure to toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene include decreased lung function, increased sensitivity to pain, and effects on the pituitary gland and liver, respectively.
What you can do: Some precautions should be taken to control the risks of exposed workers, such as increased ventilation to dilute VOC concentrations, proper maintenance to Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, periodic health examinations for workers, and periodic monitoring of VOCs.
Next Steps To Purify Your Air
Origen Air’s Enhanced Plant Technology actively metabolizes indoor air toxins, restoring indoor air quality while enriching it with fresh, clean oxygen. Reducing exposure to dangerous indoor air toxins will improve the health and wellness of all humans breathing this clean air. Absenteeism in the workplace will decline. Human performance will increase. Long term health risks will be averted.
If you or your business is interested in implementing cleaner indoor air, you can contact us for more information on our air purification systems. You can also follow us on social media to stay up to date with news about sustainability and the products and services we can offer you or your business.
Written by: Irma Curiel
Harčárová, K.et al. (2019). Building Materials as Potential Emission Sources of VOC in the Indoor Environment of Buildings.Trans Tech Publications Ltd, Switzerland. ISSN: 1662-9795, Vol. 838, pp 74-80. From: https://www.proxydgb.buap.mx:2186/ehost/detail/detail?vid=2&sid=14066c24-b6e0-4be6-8fa3-b012140f9cf0%40sdc-v-sessmgr01&bdata=Jmxhbmc9ZXMmc2l0ZT1laG9zdC1saXZl#AN=142677054&db=aci
M. A. Bari, W. B. Kindzierski, A. J. Wheeler, M. È. Héroux, L. A. Wallace. (2015). Source apportionment of indoor and outdoor volatile organic compounds at homes in Edmonton, Canada. Build. Env. 90, 114-124. From: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0360132315001328
Berrios I.T et al. (2005). Volatile Organic compounds (VOCs) emissions from sources in a partitioned offices environment and their impact on IAQ. Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY. From: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/692b/a3fed0a0b6010e9eb7db701c0f2943112df2.pdf
Health Canada. (2018).Indoor Air Reference Levels for Chronic Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds. From: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/healthy-living/indoor-air-reference-levels-chronic-exposure-volatile-organic-compounds.html
Tran, V. V., Park, D., & Lee, Y. C. (2020). Indoor Air Pollution, Related Human Diseases, and Recent Trends in the Control and Improvement of Indoor Air Quality. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(8), 2927. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7215772/#B34-ijerph-17-02927
EPA. Introduction to Indoor Air Quality. From: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/introduction-indoor-air-quality
EPA. Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality. From: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality
EPA. (2011). Background Indoor Air Concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds in North American Residences (1990–2005): A Compilation of Statistics for Assessing Vapor Intrusion. From:https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/oswer-vapor-intrusion-background-report-062411.pdf