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Indoor Air Quality

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Sick Building Syndrome

According to the EPA, indoor levels of air pollutants are two to five times higher than outdoor air pollutants. One reason for this is that indoor air is recycled, trapping pollutants and causing them to build up over time.

The EPA reports that over the past several decades, indoor air pollution has increased dramatically with the construction of more tightly sealed buildings, reduced ventilation to the outdoors, and the growing popularity of synthetic building materials and furnishings. Chemically formulated personal care products and cleaners also contribute to indoor pollution. The high incidence of indoor pollutants has introduced a new term into the English language: Sick Building Syndrome. Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome among inhabitants and workers include headaches, dizziness, sinus congestion, itchy or watery eyes, scratchy throats, lethargy, and an inability to concentrate. Sick Building Syndrome can lead to repiratory infections and can aggravate symptoms associated with allergies and asthma.

In the workplace, indoor air pollution negatively impacts employee performance and contributes to increased absenteeism and presenteeism. It has been estimated that Sick Building Syndrome costs employers approximately sixty billion dollars a year in employee sick leave and lost production.

What can you do to improve the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) at your home or place of business? Be pro-active in preventing water damage and mold, open windows or use mechanical ventilation on good weather days to bring in fresh air, decorate your interior with living plants, and have a licensed air conditioning technician to install a mechanical air cleaner in your central air conditioning and heating system.

Properly maintained, a mechanical air cleaner will help pay for itself by increasing the efficiency of your air conditioning system and prolonging the life of your evaporator coil. How? The average home produces forty pounds of dust per year for every fifteen-hundred square feet of living space. Standard cardboard frame filters are only about fifteen percent effective in removing dust and particles from the air. They have little or no effect on pollen, micro-organisms, smoke or other similar pollutants. The same airborne particles which impact human respiratory health also may also damage home entertainment centers and computer equipment and can compromise air conditioning equipment by forcing it to work harder, thereby reducing its efficiency and possibly shortening its lifespan. Mechanical air cleaners are eighty to ninety-five percent effective in removing the airborne pollutants, including the smaller pollutants which readily pass through standard cardboard filters. These pollutants include bacteria, dust mites, mildew, lint, fungus, smoke, cooking grease, bacteria and even some viruses.

A mechanical air cleaner consists of a case and a HEPA filter. The HEPA filter should be replaced once a year. If the HEPA filter is not replaced, it will eventually become clogged and restrict the air flow to your air conditioning system. At that point, the system will not be able to effectively cool your home or place of business.