Why is Indoor Air Quality So Important?
50 years ago, most homes and workplaces were cold draughty places that were often shared with mice, rats and a variety of bugs. By comparison, modern buildings seem clinically safe and clean.
Image Credit: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/air/analysis-methods.htm
Just when you thought you were safe
Many people consider modern air pollution a public health emergency, and they don’t mean traffic fumes. Indoors, where we spend 90 per cent of our time, the air is ten times worse than on our city streets.
Things such as double glazing and loft insulation mean that buildings are more sealed than they once were, which would be fine if the fox was not already amongst the chickens. Unfortunately, most synthetic fabrics (flooring, carpets, MDF, curtains, clothing), plastic goods, adhesives and household products steadily exude toxic chemicals. Add some humidity and mildew and you have a cauldron of problems.
Chronic exposure is blamed for many deaths from asthma, cancer and strokes. Opening a window to let in the nitric oxide, ozone and particulates generated by traffic is actually good for your health – relatively.
A better solution
Most British people think air conditioning is something used to keep buildings cool in hot climates. About half realize that it also heats them in cold ones, while few appreciate its value in protecting health. There is no better way of keeping toxic fumes, dust, gases, spores, germs and pollen out of the air we breathe than controlling its flow so that it can be efficiently treated at a central point (the air handler unit).
Image Credit: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/home-cooling-systems/evaporative-coolers
Modern ductwork parts are lightweight and easy to install, with many components available from specialists such as https://www.dustspares.co.uk/ductwork-parts/.
Filters are your first line of defense, with several types available to deal with different problems. HEPA filters remove dust, spores and even some bacteria. Dangerous vapors, such as the volatile organics generated by synthetic furnishings, can be neutralized by activated charcoal filters.
More sophisticated technologies are available to achieve even higher air safety. Some units generate an ionized hydroperoxide plasma that makes even the smallest contaminants congeal into particles large enough to be caught by the filters. Other options include ultra-violet lamps that kill bacteria and viruses, and incinerator elements that vaporize particulates.
With so many illnesses linked to poor air, air conditioning repays its installation costs in improved productivity, fewer sick days, and the future of our children.