Facts About Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality has been a vital concern in the United States and the world since twenty nine members of the American Legion died following attendance at a convention held at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia in 1976. Since then, numerous buildings have been closed or renovated because of indoor air concerns. Here are some additional facts about the current status of indoor air.

  • “Contaminated central air handling systems can become breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and other sources of biological contaminants and can then distribute these contaminants through the home.” (The Inside Story—A Guide to Indoor Air Quality published April 1995 by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency) 

  • “One of the first line therapies in the treatment of allergies and asthma is the avoidance of offending allergens. Airborne allergens in the home constitute one of the hardest types of allergens to avoid. Heating and air conditioning systems have been established as harbors for molds, and certainly with vents in every room this same system is an efficient distribution system. So certainly, the ‘sanitation’ of this system is of great interest to allergic and asthmatic patients.” (Louise H. Bethea, M.D., P.A. from her Sniffles & Sneezes web site at http://www.aaaai.org.

  • “Mold thrives in warm, dark and/or moist climates. It causes allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose and skin rash.” (Richard Weber, M.D. of National Jewish Medical and Research Center at http://www.nationaljewish.org)

  • “Allergic reactions can range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening, as in a severe asthma attack. Some common signs and symptoms are watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, nasal congestion, itching, coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing, headache, and fatigue.” (Biological Pollutants in Your Home published March 1997 by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency)

  • “Have major appliances, such as furnaces, heat pumps and central air conditioners, inspected and cleaned regularly by a professional especially before seasonal use.” (Biological Pollutants in Your Home published March 1997 by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency)

  • “It is possible for microbial growth to occur in HVAC systems when the proper conditions are met such as appropriate temperature range and the presence of water and nutrients. In the presence of sufficient moisture, dust and other organic particles contamination can act as nutrient base microbial growth.” (Presentation by Frank Sanders, Director of Antimicrobial Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 1999 American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Annual Meeting in Chicago)

  • “A World Health Organization report suggests that as many as 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings worldwide may generate excessive complaints related to indoor air quality.” (Indoor Pollution In The Office published by the American Lung Association)

  • “In a nationwide random sampling of office workers, 24 percent perceived air quality problems in their work environments, and 20 percent believed that their work performance was hampered accordingly.” (Indoor Pollution In The Office published by the American Lung Association)

  • “The HVAC system must be well maintained — inspected and cleaned on a prescheduled and periodic basis and repaired as needed. If maintenance is inadequate, problems that may arise again include growth and dissemination of microbial agents from water reservoirs or water-damaged areas as well as the dissemination of irritant dust through supply air from the HVAC system.” (Indoor Air Quality published Public Health Reports in October 1998 by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services)

  • “Biological contaminants are the real culprit in poor indoor air quality. In fact, studies show that some of the symptoms people experience from “sick building syndrome” are associated with the growth of odorous fungi and toxigenic molds in air conditioning systems, or on surfaces in the building.” (A Better Indoor Environment published in 1998 by Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association, Inc.)

  • “According to a survey by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one-third of the 70 million Americans who work indoors are quartered in buildings that are breeding grounds for an array of contamination, from molds and bacteria to volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde. A 1996 Cornell University study found the problem was even worse: in every one of 35 buildings surveyed for the study, at least 20% of the occupants had experienced symptoms.” (This Place Makes Me Sick published in December 21, 1998 edition of Time magazine)

  • “Modern delivery systems such as heating/ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) systems are in all facilities. If these systems are poorly maintained, human exposures to toxic aerosols can be widespread, causing severe health consequences.”…”The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 25,000 to 100,000 cases of legionellosis occur annually in the United States.” (Prevent “Sick Building Syndrome” published in April 1997 edition of Environmental Protection)

  • “A growing number of doctors and educators say that “bad indoor air” is partly responsible for the mysterious rise in Attention Deficit Disorder and asthma. They fear that sick schools are robbing children of their health and destroying teachers’ careers.” (Kids, here’s one way to avoid getting a D published in July 1998 edition of Engineered Systems)

  • “EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor air levels of many pollutants may be 2-5 times, and occasion more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. These levels of indoor air pollutants are of particular concern because it is estimated that most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors.” (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Air Quality Home Page at http://www.epa.gov/iaq)

  • “ASHRAE has also reported that more than half of all building-related illnesses are linked to problems with ventilation systems. In fact, a building’s HVAC system can be the most important factor in providing good indoor air quality.” (A Healthy Indoor Environment Boosts Productivity Published in November 1997 edition of Building Environment Report)

  • ” The consequences of failing to respond to school IAQ problems can include a negative impact on the learning environment, comfort and attendance, and reduced staff productivity due to discomfort, illness, or absenteeism. In addition, indoor air pollution impacts the physical plant: it can accelerate deterioration of equipment and reduce operating efficiency.” (Your IAQ Management Program Can Reduce Risks In Classrooms Published in September 1997 edition of Building Environment Report)

  • “IAQ ‘quick-fixes’ could land you in the courtroom. Indoor air quality in buildings is no longer just an environmental issue: it can also be a litigation issue” (IAQ ” Quick-Fixes” Could Land You In The Courtroom Published in November 1997 edition of Building Environment Report)

  • “A reduction in maintenance increases the level of dust, provides opportunities for mold and mildew growth, and leads to larger and very expensive problems.” (IAQ “Quick-Fixes” Could Land You In The Courtroom Published in November 1997 edition of Building Environment Report)

  • “If the HVAC system is not running properly, or if mold and mildew is growing, it’s obvious that remediation is needed.” (IAQ “Quick-Fixes” Could Land You In The Courtroom Published in November 1997 edition of Building Environment Report)


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