Up to 90 per cent of our time is actually spent indoors. At home it’s at least 8 hours (including sleeping). In the office and during transport technically we also spend our time indoors.
Often we feel safe whenever we’re inside a safe and strong structure. The “shelter” provides us protection against heat, wind, cold, rain and air pollution. However, the indoor can be more polluted than the outside environment. That’s because of the presence of the following:
- Carbon monoxide
- Tobacco smoke
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Biological organisms (moulds, bacteria and viruses)
Decades ago, any home or building is considered safe as long it meets structural requirements. But recently, there are identified threats that deserve equal attention. In fact, a new phenomenon is emerging called “sick building syndrome” that names such threat.
Yes, it’s possible to get sick by staying indoors. Indoor air pollution has become a serious concern because poor indoor air quality can actually result to:
- Allergic and asthmatic symptoms
- Lung cancer
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Respiratory diseases
- Cardiovascular disease (this can be caused by accumulation of particulate matter in the lungs)
- General irritation (the feeling of getting sick & the unusual odours)
As a result, poor indoor air quality can negatively affect home living and workplace productivity. Although it’s possible that the amounts of pollutants are really small, the effects accumulate and get compounded because we spend up to 90 per cent of our time indoors.
Where do air pollutants come from?
In general, pollutants come from modern living and poor construction. Poor ventilation also contributes because pollutants become more concentrated in the area and microbes have an excellent environment to thrive in.
Anyway, here are the things you should be aware of or concerned about:
- Formaldehyde (this is often released from adhesives, fibre board, panels, curtains, blinds, fabrics and 3,000 other products)
- Carbon monoxide (from outdoor pollution and air particulates)
- Tobacco smoke (this also leads to release of formaldehyde, plus nicotine)
- Biological origins (moulds, bacteria and viruses plus dust mites and pollen)
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs, harmful substances that can be breathed in)
In particular, VOCs get a lot of attention (perhaps acronyms always raise alarms among people). Also, vapours and gasses that can be easily breathed in can cause immediate health effects. Our respiratory systems might not have enough defences against these harmful substances.
It’s especially the case in workplaces wherein copiers and printers emit VOCs on a regular basis. With poor ventilation, the VOCs continue to circulate inside the premises. From time to time people can take in those harmful substances bit by bit.
It’s also the case in many places where there are air fresheners, paint thinners, glues, moth repellents and petroleum-based products. Benzene, carbon tetrachloride and other VOCs gradually affect the health of everyone staying in the home or building.
Formaldehyde (also considered a VOC) is particularly aggressive. As mentioned earlier, formaldehyde can come from adhesives, curtains, blinds, fabrics and thousands of other products and materials. Any structure always has these materials, which makes every structure a source of formaldehyde.
In addition, we also have to consider the presence of biological entities such as moulds, bacteria and viruses. The biotoxins they produce can immediately irritate your respiratory tract and cause that unusual and unexplainable sick feeling. Also, their widespread growth indicates there’s a serious problem in the construction of the building (which can be easily prevented and corrected).
Improving indoor air quality
Thankfully, there are now easy ways to improve indoor air quality and limit your exposure to harmful pollutants. Here are some:
- Avoid smoking indoors
- Improve home ventilation (turn on exhaust fans especially when cooking, showering, doing the laundry and other activities that introduce more moisture)
- Do not use barbeques, camp stoves, wood-fired stoves and wood-burning heaters inside the home
- Ensure plenty of fresh outdoor air is coming into the room/s
- Choose building products that are pre-dried or quick drying (limit your exposure to VOCs)
- Choose water-based coating products with zero or very low levels of VOCs
- During renovations and home improvements (especially when resurfacing walls and floors & adding new furnishings), make sure the whole area is well ventilated
- Select materials that are easy to clean and maintain (this will minimise your use of cleaning agents)
- Use hot water when washing sheets and pillowcases (hot water is effective in killing mites)
- Regularly vacuum your carpets
- Install entry mat systems that can trap soil, moisture and pollutants so these can’t get a chance to enter the building
- Wet-mop smooth floors to keep indoor dust levels low
- Only use pesticides when absolutely necessary
- Consider limiting the burning of incense and candles
- If you’re in a new home, consider installing a wall-mounted vacuum system to expel exhaust air
- Try to achieve an indoor relative humidity of below 50 per cent (persistently higher humidity levels promote condensation and mould growth)
Those are general recommendations. The overall goal here is to minimise your exposure to harmful pollutants and microbes. First, the approach should be minimising the sources of those pollutants (e.g. better choice of coatings and construction materials). Second is to improve air circulation and control the amounts or numbers of the microbes and substances staying in the area.
Finally, install an ongoing protection against indoor air pollutants and microorganisms. After all, pollutants can easily enter a premise. In addition, there are literally dozens of things to watch out for when insuring good indoor air quality. Any of them can suddenly release significant amounts of VOCs or become a thriving site for moulds, bacteria and viruses.
Continuously achieving good indoor air quality
Air quality is said to be good or acceptable if it doesn’t cause upfront and long-term harm to occupants or users of a residential or commercial premise. In other words, there should be minimal amounts of pollutants or zero or minimal exposure to people.
However, this can be very difficult to achieve. Initial prevention and continuous control are effective in improving indoor air quality. But this might not be enough to guarantee people’s comfort and safety.
To achieve even better air quality and gain an added peace of mind, many workplaces and healthcare facilities now have air purifiers. These are especially important in environments where people have compromised respiratory systems. Poor indoor air quality can make their conditions worse or even introduce new problems to the patients’ overall health.
Offices, stores, restaurants, surgeries & clinics, aged care facilities, pre-schools and childcare centres should have excellent indoor air quality so kids, patients and customers stay safe and comfortable. People stay in these premises for extended periods of time, which gives ample opportunity for microbes and pollutants to do their work.
Some air purifiers (not all) can successfully purify the air and make it safer to breathe in. This is only possible if a thorough process is at work. This means the air purifying system should not only rely on filtration, but include radiation and ionisation technologies as well.
Many companies deliver false claims about their “air purifiers.” But the truth is they only “filter” the air. In other words, their faulty system can only remove large particles. This is not enough if you want complete protection against indoor air pollutants.
On the other hand, the Vectothor Air160 uses 3 core technologies to purify the air:
- First is Filtration wherein airborne pollutants and particles are removed. Airborne dust is captured and the filter includes an antimicrobial agent (the filter won’t be a thriving site for microbes)
- Second is UV-C Radiation where it starts to really make a difference. The air is treated with UV-C radiation (a high-performance Philips UV-C lamp does the work) that destroys the cellular structure of moulds, bacteria and viruses.
- Third step is the Ionisation wherein the ioniser launches 8.5 million negative ions per cubic centimetre of treated air. This ionisation stage is crucial in reacting with positive ions (forming heavier and larger compounds) that can be filtered.
As a result, the air becomes safer to breathe in. With hospital-grade indoor air quality, you actually maintain or improve your health. That’s because you’ll experience fewer allergies and more comfort. Anxiety and depression can also be reduced because of the improved well-being you’ll achieve.
Contact us today if you want to improve your indoor air quality. You can ask us about the coverage area of the Vectothor Air160 and its other technical specifications.