Control of Indoor Air Pollution

Services for Real Estate Pros with Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS MRSA #4

Basic approaches to control indoor air pollution include source control, source isolation, increased ventilation, dehumidification, and the use of filters (see the table). Possible sources of contamination are eliminated in a source-control strategy. Examples include banning smoking in public buildings, using carefully selected building materials to avoid the emission of toxic or irritating substances, and limiting the use of fibrous materials. Source-isolation strategy is used in situations where a source cannot be completely eliminated. For instance, copy machine areas, food service stations, and bathrooms are often separately vented outside buildings to avoid the recirculation of return air. Existing sources of pollution such as leaded paint and asbestos insulation may either be removed or encapsulated. Increased ventilation and filtration are traditional approaches to ensuring good indoor air quality. Dehumidification helps in the reduction of microbial growth. Low humidity should be maintained inside a house to limit the growth of such bacteria.

Devices based on the principles of absorption and adsorption are finding applications in controlling indoor air pollutants and moisture. Solid and liquid desiccants have been found effective in removing moisture and a wide range of pollutants. Silica gel, activated alumina, and activated carbon are also used to adsorb gases and vapors. Spider plants have been found to absorb some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from indoor air.

The number of lawsuits filed in the area of indoor air pollution dramatically increased between 1970 and 2001. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Building Assessment Survey Evaluation found that in the worst buildings of the first study group, approximately 30 to 40 percent of occupants experienced headaches, unusual fatigue or drowsiness, and dry, itching, or otherwise irritated eyes at least once a week. In the best buildings of the same study group, 6 percent of occupants experienced unusual fatigue or drowsiness. Under these circumstances, the possibility of complaints filed in relationship to indoor air quality will not become remote in coming years.


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Sonja Babic
Sonja Babic/PRIME Realty NC, LLC - New Bern, NC
New Bern NC, PRIME Realty NC, LLC

Very very important info. My kids have allergies and addressing indoor air quality made a world of difference for us. Thank you

Jan 16, 2010 02:24 AM #10
Jeff T
BEACHSIDE Home Inspection - Satellite Beach, FL

IAC2 LogoAs mentioned in your article, and worth emphasizing is the role moisture (humidity) plays in the air quality of a home. Uncontrolled moisture in the home indicates envelope issues with the home, caused by poor construction (improper venting, vapor barriers, flashings), deterioration (damage or deferred maintenance allowing water intrusion), or simply lifestyle (bringing pollutants into the home).

 Mold requires three things to grow: moisture, organic material to digest, and a moderate temperature (usually between 40 and 100 degrees). Since for the most part, the composition of our homes and the indoor temperatures controlled to personal comfort, it the moisture that drives the problem. All homeowners should be on the defensive against moisture intrusion into their home, while ensuring proper venting. A checkup by a certified home inspector is money well spent.

Of course, any material issues like Chinese Drywall, lead, radon gas sources, aspestos which may present in the house could also be potential contaminate sources as well. Any suspecions of these should be checked out as well.

And don't forget our pets, a huge source of happiness in our lives, and also a major potential source of allergens.

The good news, is most problems have a solution or can be greatly reduced, once we're armed with the proper information about the environment in our homes.

Jan 17, 2010 03:03 AM #11
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John Lapotaire, CIEC

Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS
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