The quality of indoor air is something most of us take for granted. Unless there is something very specific and unusual going on around us, like heavy cleaning or maybe new construction, we don’t often think about whether or not there is anything wrong with the air we breathe as we go about our daily business.
The truth is, though, that indoor air quality is often worse than outdoors. Poor air circulation and well sealed, energy efficient buildings combine to trap and cause the buildup of many hazardous pollutants and contaminants in the areas where we spend most of our time. In fact, health problems resulting from poor indoor air quality have become so common that they have been given a name: sick building syndrome.
If you’re unsure about the quality of the air in the places where you spend most of your day, there are some tell-tale signs that can alert you to potential problems, even if you can’t see what might be lingering in the air. Here are a few things you can look for that will indicate potential problems with the indoor air quality within homes and buildings.
Pay Attention To Allergies
Most people suffer from some kind of respiratory allergy. We all seem to have a particular time of year when our bodies go haywire and we end up with symptoms ranging from itchy eyes to occasional fits of sneezing or coughing.
If you find yourself dealing with these symptoms more often than usual, it may be time to start looking around you to see if the cause is more than just seasonal allergies. Common symptoms brought on by polluted indoor air include watery eyes, coughing, sneezing, congestion, headaches and bloody noses.
Pay special attention to where you are and what you are doing when symptoms come and go. If, for example, you suddenly become congested and start sneezing when you walk into your office and then the symptoms stop when you leave, it could be your body reacting to pollutants in the air.
Inconsistencies in the air as you move through a building can indicate problems, or at least insufficiencies, within the ventilation system. Some examples of things to look for would be an area that always seems to be at a higher or lower temperature than surrounding areas, or places where the air seems to be particularly humid or overly dry. If the ventilation system is not maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels, the air quality is most likely not being maintained either.
Odors Without Explanation
If you notice odors in areas that don’t seem to have a reasonable explanation, it could be due to contaminants in the air. Dirty air filters or a buildup of humidity can cause odors in specific areas, or even throughout an entire building.
Odors coming from air vents could signify dirty filters, dirty air ducts and other problems. This type of problem has especially bad effects on indoor air quality as contaminants are being spread by the very system that is supposed to be keeping the air clean.
Take Notice Of The Environment Around You
If you find yourself experiencing symptoms, look at what is going on around you. There could be something happening in or around your building that is introducing contaminants into the air.
- Is there construction in the building, or nearby?
- Do symptoms get worse when a cleaning crew comes through?
- Was there a recent fumigation for rodents or insects?
- Have any areas been painted recently?
- Has new carpeting, flooring or furniture been installed?
All of the activities listed above can release large amounts of chemicals and volatile organic compounds into the air and make symptoms worse.
Camfil Filtration Products Can Help
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