October is National Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) month, though with modern sensibilities surrounding IAQ, every month this past year may as well have been National IAQ month. The consensus around IAQ has been a resounding “it needs work” and people across the world have taken up the mantle in some way to help either promote or research the importance of good IAQ. And in the interest of education, Ambius has put forward a list of the five most common types of indoor air pollutants that can impact health inside a building.
Five Common Types of Indoor Air Pollutants
1. Viral Particles
COVID-19 is perhaps the most prominent virus circulating throughout the air and everyone’s minds right now. Part of a wide variety of aerosolized viruses, it can spread through tiny droplets produced from a cough or sneeze. Without proper ventilation, any one of these viruses can linger in the air for an extended period of time, increasing the likelihood of infection from occupants.
In the wide world of allergens, any number of airborne particulates can irritate a body. Dust, pollen and dander are some of the most common and can attach themselves to just about any household item. Exposure to these particles can result in any number of symptoms, from irritated skin and eyes to respiratory issues and much, much more.
Akin to viruses, bacteria can easily propagate and spread in an environment with poor air circulation. These pollutants can then wreak havoc on an occupant, leading to stomach issues, asthma, dizziness or in cases related to mold, lifelong effects.
In the Western United States, wildfires contribute significantly to outdoor air pollution, however, that smoke can very easily finds its way into homes. Kitchens, restaurants and motor vehicle exhaust, however, contribute to smoke pollution as well. One of the worst forms of pollution, it has many long lasting effects, even with short-term exposure.
5. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Everyday products such as paints, cleaning products and even furniture can be some of the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that these pollutants run at extremely high concentration levels indoors (ten times higher than the outdoors in some cases). And the effects are incredibly varied. Headaches, nose and throat discomfort and even damage to livers and kidneys have been linked to VOC pollution.