Is indoor air quality really an issue or problem?

According to the World Health Organization, as many as one-third of the buildings in the United States may have some form of indoor air pollution which is potentially harmful to people.  Since most Americans now spend more than 80% of their time indoors, it is important that the air they are breathing is not harming them.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that of the 70 million employees who work indoors in the United States, 21 million are exposed to poor indoor air.

Canada obviously has similar issues with inhabitants spending 90% of their time indoors at work, school, shopping, banking, etc.  We encourage all Canadians to take a pro-active interest in the issues by getting involved and gaining awareness.  In the next paragraph below, Canada's position taken from Environment Canada's Site where it is stated that "indoor air" is a concern and is included in Canada's Clean Air Act.  Please visit the Environment Canada's pages entitled Canada's Clean Air Act to find out what is being done.

The Government of Canada tabled on October 19, 2006 the Canada's Clean Air Act to help protect human health and the environment by taking an integrated approach to reducing emissions of both air pollutants and greenhouse gases.  The Government of Canada shares your concerns about air quality, including indoor air, and climate change.Back

What kinds of pollutants are in the air inside of buildings?

There are three general categories:  chemical, particulate and microbial.  Chemical contaminants usually come from cleaning products and from building materials.  Particulate pollutants come from smoke, fibres and dust originating inside the building or brought into it from the outside.  Microbial contaminants account for about 85% of the harmful pollutants found inside buildings.  They are the bacteria, viruses and spores.Back

How serious is it?

The National Institution for Occupational Safety and Health estimates the problem costs in the tens of billions of dollar when related health care, absenteeism, reduced worker productivity, building investigations and building improvements are taken into account.  The incidence of Asthma has increased by 60% in the last 15 years.  It is now the most common chronic childhood disease and the number one cause of school absences. Asthma accounts for more than 500,000 hospitalizations per year and 15 deaths per day.Back

Doesn't the air conditioning system filter and purify the air inside buildings?

Ventilating and air conditioning equipment can remove the larger particles, but it’s the smaller particles that do most of the damage.  They do filter the air to some extent.  They do not “purify” the air. The filters used in most heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment can remove many, but not all of the contaminants in buildings.  Some of the pollutants are so tiny that they pass right through the filters and are re-circulated back into the air inside the building.Back

How can they harm people?

Depending on the type, size and length of the exposure to indoor air contaminants, people may have a range of reactions from temporary, minor irritation of the eyes, nose and throat to permanent, conditions affecting the brain, lungs, and other vital organs.Back



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