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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

These potentially adverse conditions are further complicated by the fact that people are spending more time than ever indoors, up to 90 percent according to estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is easy to understand why there is a growing concern about the quality of the air we breathe. The bottom line is that IAQ can and does impact productivity, personal comfort, building maintenance costs and occupant health and safety, either positively or negatively depending on how the air quality is managed.

Different people react differently to different levels of different substances. There is no universal reaction to a measured amount of a particular material. People simply have different tolerance levels. It is difficult to assign standards or even guidelines to set acceptable versus unacceptable levels of literally thousands of airborne pollutants, including mold. Typical symptoms caused by air quality problems vary according to an individual's sensitivity, but may include chills, sweating, eye irritation, allergies, coughing, sneezing, nausea, fatigue, skin irritation, breathing difficulty and others. In extreme cases, personal reactions actually reach the point incapacity where an individual simply cannot function.

Unfortunately, there are virtually no Federal regulations governing exposure levels in non-industrial indoor environments. Indoor air quality is a growing concern and gaining attention. It is prudent to take a proactive approach and address any issues that could potentially have adverse affects on indoor air quality.

Controlling Sources of Pollutants
In a typical building or home, pollutants fall into two source categories: those that enter the building from the outside and those generated within the building itself. Both categories include a wide variety of pollutant types and sources. Pollutant sources must be located and controlled to ensure good indoor air quality. Both the sources and pathways are essential components that must be understood for effective resolution. Pathways are created as pollutants travel by air movement through even the smallest of openings. Once the pollutant source is identified a strategy to mitigate can be designed. Various solutions may include:
• Removing the source
• Repairing the source so it no longer produces pollutants
• Isolating the source with a physical barrier
• Isolating the source using air pressure differential
• Minimizing the time people are exposed
• Diluting pollutants and removing them from the building with increased ventilation
• Increasing filtration to clean the air and remove pollutants

Investigating Indoor Air Quality
A typical IAQ assessment generally involves the following steps:
• Planning the assessement
• Gathering data
• Analyzing the data
• Reporting the findings
• Providing recommendations for resolution.

Conclusion
While investigating any indoor air quality situation, one should try to stay focused on the entire picture. Many parameters can contribute to the overall problem and must be considered and checked. Also, it is not uncommon to find multi-layered problems, making it difficult to get to the root cause. AnIAQ assessment is often like the peeling of an onion; as each layer is removed, another is exposed.
provided by TSI, Incorporated

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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.