What is Indoor Air Quality?
The words indoor air quality are self-explanatory. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indoor air quality refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Why does indoor air quality matter?
History of indoor Air Quality
In the 60’s and 70’s air pollution gained traction in the mainstream media, culminating in the signing of the Clean Air Act by President Richard Nixon. Today, some 47 years after the Clean Air Act, the concern for air pollution in general has manifested into concerns for indoor and outdoor air conditions.
Prior to the Clean Air Act most concerns about environmental issues resided in outdoor air pollution. Though it is still a legitimate concern, priorities have shifted to indoor air.
Indoor Air Quality Today
Impaired indoor air quality has emerged as one of the most concerning health hazards around the world. Common practices worldwide have been found to impact indoor air quality negatively. Some studies have found that habitual and cultural activities that impact the indoor air quality may have been contributing to ailments, allergies and in some cases deaths for eons.
The preservation of good indoor air quality could contribute to lessened resource draining visits seeking medical interventions and by extension could help to lengthen the quality of life and life itself.
What is Air Made of
The atmosphere is primarily nitrogen (78%) based with addition elements of oxygen (21%), argon (0.9%) and carbon dioxide (0.03%) with smaller percentages of methane, helium and other gases.
What Happens When you Inhale
When take a breath your diaphragm tightens to allow for more space in your chest cavity where your lungs will expand with the air you just breathed in. When your air reaches your lungs a protein called hemoglobin moves the oxygen from the lungs to the blood vessels through tiny air sacs called alveoli. Oxygenated blood is carried to the left side of the heart through the pulmonary vein. The heart then pumps the oxygen rich blood through the entire body.
What Happens When You Exhale and Exhale
Your diaphragm and rib muscles relax, tightening the chest cavity as the lungs deflate pushing carbon dioxide rich air out of your nose and mouth via your windpipe.
What is Really in the Air We Breathe
The air we breathe is filled with nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. What’s wrong with nitrogen oxides? Nitrogen oxides help make up smog and acid rain. They are produced mostly from some form of oxygen and oxygen combustion at elevated temperatures, similar to the exhaust that is released from the muffler as you drive your car.
The volatile organic compounds in the air we breathe are in most scents or odors. You can find them in paintings, coatings, fossil fuels (car exhaust), spray paints, solvents, adhesives and adhesive removers. Long term exposure to these compounds create a number of health concerns. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found concentrations of VOC’s to be two to five times more concentrated indoors.
Indoor air quality is very important. Limiting harmful compounds in your indoor environment can only serve to help you achieve better health for yourself, your family and yes even your pets. We’ve come a long way in understanding the role indoor pollutants and allergens play in our everyday life and health, but the fight is still ongoing. What are you doing to preserve you indoor air quality?
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