Quality Of The Air We Breathe At Home Or In The Workplace
By Peter McGarry
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 80-90 percent of their time indoors, thus
the quality of indoor air is very important. Ask yourself a
Does fresh, outside air flow into the room or office
you are usually in? Is the room humid? Are there any gas-fired appliances?
Is your furniture composed of particle board or wood laminents?
questions need to be addressed when determining the quality of air in our
home or workplace. Here are the reasons why.
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
Is the room humid? Humid or damp conditions in your home
can encourage the growth of mould and dust mites. Mould 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 wood laminents? Formaldehyde is released from
wood laminates 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
Health Risks 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
Here's to your health!
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