How would you rate the quality of air in your workplace? More importantly what factors are you considering when rating it?
Your home or work environment may be causing you additional health risks without you realizing it. On average, Canadians spend about more than 50% of their time indoors, thus the quality of indoor air is very important.
Ask yourself a few questions to determine the quality of air in your home or workplace.
Does fresh, outside air flow into the room or office you are usually in?
Better insulation can save on heating costs, but it limits the amount of fresh air that enters and leaves your house or office. As a lot of water vapor is produced from normal human activities, fresh air is necessary to get rid of this extra humidity.
Is the room humid?
Humid or damp conditions in your home can encourage the growth of mold and dust mites. Mold can develop from too much humidity, building leaks, refrigerator drip pans, bathroom surfaces and flooding. Moldy smells from carpet, wood and gypsum board are a sign that they harbor fungi. Stale water in humidifiers and air conditioners can lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi.
Are there any gas-fired appliances?
Typically, oven and pilot light emissions are not vented and can contribute significantly to indoor levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde. Of emerging interest as a potential source of indoor air pollution is the wood burning stove. Since combustion is much less complete with wood than with oil and gas furnaces, pollution emissions can be greater. Though by-products should be vented to the outside, leaks and improper operation of these appliances can cause emissions to the indoors. Kerosene heaters are becoming increasingly popular for space heating. Since these systems are often unvented, the potential for high level contamination exists.
Is your furniture composed of particle board or laminated wood?
Formaldehyde is released from laminated wood and particleboard in which formaldehyde-containing resins have been used. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation is a significant source of formaldehyde and possibly other gaseous products. Insulating materials such as fiberglass can release particulate matter to indoor air.
Illnesses caused by poor air quality range from skin irritation to sneezing and asthma. In some cases, toxins from fungi can cause illness. Toxins in dust can produce fever and flu-like symptoms, especially if the environment is damp. Viruses can also be found in indoor air, but they do not usually lead to illness. A virus does not survive long in air, and getting sick usually results from contact with infected people.