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Indoor Air Pollution

April 28, 2011

 

In recent years, the attention of environmental researchers has been focused on indoor air pollution, as a result of reports of symptoms or specific diseases that occur mainly in air conditioned and mechanically ventilated buildings. Studies have proved that level of contaminants in the indoor air can be often several times higher than outdoor air. Poor indoor air quality leads to an increased incidence of health related symptoms, which in turn can lead to an increase in absenteeism and a loss of productivity.

Some of the Indoor Air Contaminants

Source Contaminant
Building Occupants Carbon Dioxide (CO2), tobacoo smoke, perfume, body odors.
Building Materials Dust, Fiberglass, asbestos, gases including formaldehyde.
Workplace cleansers, solvents, pesticides, disinfectants glues Toxic vapors, volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Furniture, capets and paints Gases, vapors, odors.
Carpets, fabric, foam cushions Dust mites
Photocopiers, electric motors, electrostatic air cleaners Ozone.

 

"The solution to the problem of pollution is dilution" or increased ventilation, runs contrary to the energy conservation guidelines being followed by air-conditioning designers for the buildings.

Energy Recovery Devices : The Best Options for IAQ Enhancement

Energy constraints, and ever increasing fresh air demands necessitates installation of TFA units incorporating Heat Recovery Wheel as designers need to provide more fresh air at lower energy costs.

TFAs are typically used for treating/preconditioning ventilation air i.e. fresh air as well as far achieving acceptable IAQ ,Humidity  control  Energy conservation/efficiency,and in the process reducing the building envelope. Few benefits :

  • Ensures great Building IAQ
  • Reduced Aircon and thus, Energy Costs
  • Helps qualify for LEED Certification

 

Pollutants Contributing to Poor IAQ

Sulphur, Nitrogen Dioxide, Carbon monoxide produced by combustion and emission, high pollen counts, pesticides, chemical compounds, all contribute  to outdoor pollution. Indoor air will contain all of the pollutants of the outdoor air as well as those generated indoors by the occupants and their activities.

The indoor air contaminants which can be hazardous to health include Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), Formaldehyde, Radon, Asbestos, VOCs emanating from solvents, paints, varnishes, carpets causing long term and short term illnesses. Biologicals like bacteria, viruses, fungus due to presence of high humidity, directly affect the health of the occupants. Odours and dust can cause significant discomfort, feelings of unpleasantness.

In a conditioned space, since free passage of air is limited, pollutants tend to accumulate resulting in higher concentration of some contaminants than outdoor ambient air. Most of the pollutants that we find indoors can be sourced to commonly found items around us.

The consequences of poor Indoor Air Quality in a work environment can be two fold :

  1. the effect on the health of the individual
  2. the subsequent or related economic effect by loss of productivity and increased
     absenteeism.

 

Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality

As market needs for control of humidity, energy, IAQ, continue to rise, it is imperative to integrate heat/energy recovery devices to air-onditioning design to keep all these requirements in mind.

 
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