Indoor Environmental Quality
It is generally recognised that Australians spend 90% or more of their time indoors either relaxing or working. Until recently relatively little research has been done on the quality of air in our homes, offices, schools, recreational buildings, restaurants, public buildings or even inside cars.
Less than acceptable indoor air quality can result in significant adverse impacts on our health and environment. Furthermore these impacts carry significant cost burdens to the economy. The C.S.I.R.O. estimates that the cost of less than acceptable indoor air quality in Australia may be as high as $12 billion per year. In recent years comparative risk studies performed by the US EPA and its Science Advisory Board have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health.
Definition of Indoor Air
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) define indoor air as; “Air within a building occupied for at least one hour by people of varying states of health”
This can include the office, classroom, transport facility, shopping centre, hospital and home. Indoor air quality can be defined as the totality of attributes of indoor air that affect a person’s health and wellbeing.
As commercial buildings and dwellings have become better sealed from the external environment, pollutants being released from indoor sources are being found at higher concentrations.
Indoor air quality can be adversely affected by other pollutants such as fungi, microbial contamination, house dust mites, particulates and air toxics such as formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds.
Resolving indoor air quality problems
Investigating and resolving indoor air quality problems can be complex.
However identifying the likely cause and controlling it should minimise health and comfort concerns and maintain or increase productivity. The Building Manager may choose to employ a Mechanical Services contractor who has an in-house specialist in this field or an Occupational Hygienist to conduct the indoor air quality investigation.