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From the World Health Organization

Indoor air quality problems are recognized as important risk factors for human health.

In residences, day-care centers, retirement homes and other special environments, indoor air pollution can affect susceptible groups that may be vulnerable due to their health status or age.

Microbial contamination can involve thousand of species of bacteria and fungi that grow indoors when sufficient moisture is available. Exposure to this microbial contamination is clinically associated with respiratory symptoms, allergies, asthma and immunological reactions. The indoor environment plays a special role as a health determinant, and management of indoor air quality requires approaches that differ from those used for outdoor air.

There is strong evidence regarding the hazards posed by several biological agents that pollute the indoor air; however, the WHO working group convened in October 2006 concluded that the individual species of microbes and other biological agents that are responsible for health effects could not be identified. This is due to people often being exposed to multiple agents simultaneously, to complexities in accurate estimation of exposure and to the large numbers of symptoms and health outcomes due to exposure. The exceptions include some common allergies, which can be attributed to specific agents, such as house dust mites and pets.

The presence of many biological agents in indoor environments is attributable To dampness and inadequate ventilation. Excess moisture on almost all indoor materials leads to the growth of microbes, such as mold and bacteria, which subsequently emit spores, cells, fragments and volatile organic compounds into the indoor air. Moreover, dampness initiates chemical or biological degradation of
materials, which also pollute the indoor air. Dampness has therefore been suggested to be a strong, consistent indicator for the risk of asthma and respiratory symptoms. The health risks of biological contaminants within the indoor environment could be addressed by considering dampness as the risk indicator.

There is clinical evidence that exposure to mold and other dampness-related microbial agents increases the risks of rare conditions, such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, chronic rhinosinusitis and allergic fungal sinusitis. While those with allergies and lowered immune systems are particularly susceptible to biological and chemical agents in damp indoor environments, adverse health effects have also been found in normal populations. The increasing prevalence of asthma and allergies in many countries increase the number of people susceptible to the effects of dampness and mold in buildings and homes.



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General Information about Indoor Air Quality and Damp & Moldy Environments

Concern about indoor air quality (IAQ) the study of indoor environmental issues is a fairly recent phenomenon. Most of the early IAQ studies focused on the comparison of indoor air to outdoor air. Outdoor pollution was a primary concern and the goal was to ensure that indoor air was of a better quality than the outdoor air. As the research increased other causative factors emerged, adding more complexity to the issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that more than 30 percent of all commercial buildings have significant IAQ problems. Some of these issues may be caused by energy efficiency, new construction practices and building materials, photocopiers, fax machines, computers, as well as pollutants generated by the occupants

 
 
From the World Health Organization

Indoor air quality problems are recognized as important risk factors for human health. In residences, day-care centers, retirement homes and other special environments, indoor air pollution can affect susceptible groups that may be vulnerable due to their health status or age.