Indoor Air Quality Studies
Inadequate Ventilation in the Indoor Environment
20 studies, experts, and professionals have dictated that adequate ventilation above current ASHRAE standards successfully dilutes and rids of any volatile indoor pollutants within the home or workplace. Adequate ventilation is primarily responsible for decreasing the concentration of VOCs indoors. 27 studies have shown that exposure to high concentrations of VOCs has adverse health effects. Several studies have also shown that with increased ventilation comes increased worker productivity and student performance.
Some common VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) found in the indoor environment include:
References: 14, 22, 23, 33, 39, 46, 52, 57, 59, 73, 74, 87, 102, 107, 112, 117, 118, 119, 122, 128, 149, 152, 155, 167, 170, 198, 206, 223, 230, 246-249, 252
|Adverse Health Effects from VOC Exposure|
|Irritation in eyes, nose, and throat||Cancer||Dizziness|
|Chest tightness||Hypersensitivity||Memory Impairment|
|Asthma exacerbation||Skin irritation|
|Allergic Rhinitis||Birth defects|
|Lower airway inflammation||Impaired learning or decision-|
|Pulmonary Infection|| |
- The concentration of VOCs indoors is significantly higher than the concentration outdoors.
- Common indoor pollutant sources of VOCs include combustion sources such as a gas stoves or fireplaces, candles, or incense, as well as pressed wood products, gypsum board, carpet, and more.
- The World Health Organization has deemed air pollution as the biggest environmental killer, killing 7 million people each year. We spend 90% of our time indoors.
- Increased ventilation in schools and workplaces has been proven to increase productivity and cognitive skills in reading, writing, and math. It has also led to decreased absenteeism and increased worker health. This has significant economic benefits.
- Many VOCs are known to be human carcinogens, such as benzene and formaldehyde.
- Several studies have linked different VOCs (i.e. formaldehyde and aromatic compounds) to the diagnosis of asthma and other chronic and acute respiratory conditions.
- The increase of ventilation rate has minimal energy consumption impact or cost. The environmental impact is also minimal when using an energy recovery system.
- The best control method for levels of bioaerosols and other VOCs is through the HVAC system.
- Experts have confirmed that several COVID-19 outbreaks in public spaces have been due to inadequate ventilation.
Inadequate Filtration in the Indoor Environment
13 studies, experts, and professionals have confirmed the effectiveness of using high-efficiency filters (MERV 10+) in the indoor environment to filter out harmful pollutants such as particulate matter and secondhand smoke. 36 studies have found significant or suggestive links between high concentrations of particulate matter and smoke to the increased burden of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory conditions, and other adverse health effects.
Some common sources of Particulate Matter in the indoor environment:
- Combustion products like from gas or wood stoves, certain space heaters, fireplaces
- Smoking, e-cigarettes
- Candles, Incense, Air fresheners
- Household cleaning products
- and more
References: 2, 9, 15, 31, 39, 44, 45, 53, 55, 68, 71, 77, 80, 85, 91, 96, 113, 115, 118, 122, 128, 135, 148, 156, 159, 163, 170, 173, 185, 189, 190, 212, 215, 229, 230, 237, 249, 251, 257, 258, 259
|Adverse Health Effects from Particulate Matter Exposure|
Decreased lung function
Heart failure mortality
Acute lower respiratory disease
Cardiac arrest mortality
Ischemic Heart Disease Mortality
Bronchitis and bronchiolitis
Insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes
- Particulate Matter comes in different sizes, ranging from 2.5 microns to 10 microns. PM2.5 is the most damaging to human health.
- Homes often exceed the national PM2.5 and PM10 limit for outdoor air.
- Children are more vulnerable to PM due to their faster respiration rates and small lungs.
- Particulate Matter exposure accounts for 10-30% of the total burden of disease in the US.
- There is an 8-18% increase in mortality rate per 10ug/m3 increase in PM2.5.
- There is a 13% increased risk of cardiovascular disease with each 5ug/m3 increase in PM2.5.
- Increased particulate matter levels leads to increased ER visits and/or hospitalizations.
- Particulate matter is a significant trigger for asthma attacks and secondhand smoke is significantly associated with the development of asthma in children.
- Secondhand smoke is a significant health and economic burden on the US.
- High efficiency filters effectively filter out particulate, secondhand smoke, pet allergens, mold spores, small microbials, and more.
- A decrease in allergy/asthma symptoms has been observed when using a MERV 10+ filter.
Inadequate Humidity Control in the Indoor Environment
30 studies, experts, professionals, and countless others have confirmed that inadequate humidity control in the indoor environment leads to the proliferation of mold, dust mites, and cockroaches. The ideal relative humidity in the indoor environment should be within 30-50% to keep these allergens at bay. 74 studies have confirmed the wide variety of minor to severe adverse health effects that exposure to mold can cause.
Some common indoor pollutants affected by humidity:
- Bacteria and Viruses
- Dust mites
- VOCs such as formaldehyde
References: 3, 7, 5, 10, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41, 43, 46, 47, 48, 60, 63, 64, 65, 67, 76, 79, 89, 90, 98, 101, 105, 106, 110, 111, 113, 114, 121, 122, 130, 131, 139, 140, 141, 144, 145, 151, 154, 160, 162, 164, 166, 169, 171, 174, 175, 177, 178, 181, 182, 184, 188, 191, 192, 194, 196, 200, 201, 202, 205, 210, 211, 214, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 224, 227, 232, 233, 234, 243, 244, 245, 253
|Health Effects from exposure to mold and their mycotoxins, dust mites, and cockroaches|
Irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat
Short term memory
Altered brain flow
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis
Organic Toxic Dust Syndrome
Sick Building Syndrome
Numbness and/or tingling
Shortness of breath
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic
- Molds and dust mites thrive in indoor environments where the humidity is above 60%.
- Mold proliferates indoors where there is any type of water intrusion or leakage that is not promptly cleaned up.
- Dust mites are known asthma triggers and live in bedding and upholstery where humidity is sufficient.
- Several studies have confirmed that occupying a water-damaged building or home contaminated with high amounts of mold increases the risk of developing asthma before the age of 7 by 7.5 times.
- Mold significantly increases asthma morbidity in both adults and children.
- Mold is primarily responsible for Sick Building Syndrome cases or Water-Damaged Building related illnesses.
- Molds have the potential to produce known carcinogens and mutagens, known as mycotoxins.
- Mold is difficult and expensive to remediate, and the best course of action is prevention.
- Mold affects multiple systems of the body, including the respiratory, nervous, digestive, vascular, cutaneous, reproductive, and immune systems.
- Many people in the US are allergic to several species of molds.
- Landlords often do not repair or remediate water leaks/intrusions or mold infestations, leading to expensive litigation and adverse health effects in the residents.