October is Healthy Lung Month! Each year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Environments Division and the American Lung Association team up to highlight the importance of good indoor air quality (IAQ) to healthy lungs!
There are many common environmental pollutants that affect indoor air quality. These contaminants when found in large quantities cause various types of problems including respiratory issues for building occupants. Especially in those who are sensitive and prone to allergies. Let’s take a quick look at how to improve indoor air quality for the benefit of healthy lungs.
Modern architecture and construction methods have led to more airtight and energy efficient buildings. Generally, this is beneficial to occupant comfort and health. However, when out of balance the building envelope can foster a wide range of indoor pollutants that impact healthy lungs.
Common indoor contaminants include:
These contaminants originate in a variety of ways. Two main factors that contribute to IAQ issues are water intrusion and poor or deferred HVAC maintenance. Building materials, furnishings and office equipment can affect IAQ, too.
Healthy Lungs vs. Poor IAQ
Even the healthiest occupants are not completely immune to poor IAQ conditions. Those who are allergic or immunocompromised have the most severe reactions to indoor pollution. This not only causes discomfort (or worse) in individuals, but symptoms caused by poor IAQ also have a negative impact on cognitive function, i.e. learning and productivity.
Common respiratory issues include:
- Allergy Symptoms
- Congestion (Sinus, Chest)
- Asthma Attacks
- Bacterial Infections (Legionellosis, Pneumonia)
- Cancer (from long term exposure to Radon and others)
These respiratory issues are minimized by regularly testing the indoor environment and maintaining HVAC system to keep the building balance. It’s also of the utmost importance to immediately fix leaks, dry-out and remediate water intrusion events as they are a significant cause of mold.
Optimizing IAQ for Healthy Lungs
Speaking of Healthy Lung Month, the HVAC system is very much like the “lungs” of a building. Consider that about every 15 minutes the HVAC system changes the air in building. When the HVAC system is dirty a chain reaction occurs that affects both building health and performance. If the coils are fouled airflow is reduced. Once airflow is reduced it becomes more difficult to control ventilation, temperature and humidity. Warm and damp buildings are the perfect storm for bacterial and mold proliferation. Both of which have serious consequences on occupant well-being. Fiberglass insulation within the ducts can also degrade, separate and be distributed by the HVAC system. Fiberglass causes severe respiratory irritation. This is why regular HVAC system testing, cleaning and restoration are so crucial for good IAQ and healthy lungs.
Pure Air Control Services provides world class IAQ and HVAC solutions to identify and fix problems. It all begins with the environmental conditions within a building. A Building Health Check is a customizable series of field tests, sampling and laboratory analysis to investigate and identify potential issues within the occupied space. While the HVAC Hygiene Assessment looks specifically at the environmental and performance data of the mechanical inventory and associated ductwork. Both provide information critical to the implementation of a management or remediation plan.
Building Remediation Sciences at Pure Air Control Services has many proprietary services to hygienically clean and restore the HVAC system. These include PURE-Duct cleaning, PURE-Steam HVAC/Coil Cleaning, and HVAC New Life restoration. Each one has been proven to eliminate allergens and microbes to improve IAQ and restore system performance. A win-win.
Being aware of what contributes to good indoor air quality and doing as much as possible to maintain it are a couple of great ways to promote healthy lungs. Not just in October, but any time!
For more information these IAQ services or if you have an immediate need please call 1-800-422-7873 or contact us here.